Growing Your Natural Hair while Rocking a Protective Hair Style
by Jacqueline Samarroo
Whether it’s twisting your natural hair, wearing it up in a bun, adding braids, or wearing a wig, a protective style is a good way to give your hair a break from daily styling. It’s also a great way to change up your look every now and then.
What often happens, however, is that the protective style does not actually protect or nurture our real hair. We end up instead with damaged hair and scalp, and hair that seems to not grow as fast as it should (aka breaking off as fast as it grows).
This can happen for many reasons, such as braids being too tight or failing to care for our hair while it’s in the protective style.
Here are a few pointers on how you can rock the protective style of your choice while keeping your natural hair healthy and promoting hair growth.
Keep your hair and scalp clean.
Wear a style that gives you access to your hair and scalp to keep them clean. A clean, healthy scalp promotes hair growth and healthier hair. What’s more, strands that are weighed down by dirt and grease are more likely to clump together, tangle, and break.
Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize some more.
Dry, dehydrated hair breaks easily. Your hair and scalp need to be hydrated and moisturized for your hair to grow strong and healthy. The temptation when wearing a protective style is to forgo washing your hair. That’s a big mistake since this is the main way your hair gets the moisture it needs.
Other ways include using a leave-in conditioner, as well as using hair oils and hair serums. You can also massage your scalp to encourage its natural oils to the surface.
Go for styles with as little tension as possible.
Various protective styles cause repeated and excessive tension on the scalp and strands. This can, over time, lead to traction alopecia. The answer isn’t staying away from braids, buns, and weaves, though. It’s ensuring they are not done too tightly. You know what I mean – braids so tight you can’t smile without pain. Or, having to sleep with your head hanging off the bed. Been there!
Reduce resistance and friction, too.
Even wearing your hair loose in an awesome wash and go will result in resistance and friction between the strands. Protective styles can exacerbate this, however, as the fibers of extensions, braids, or even wigs rub against your hair and scalp. You can minimize this by buying the smoothest, best-quality ones you can afford.
Use a silk or satin pillow case or wrap your hair.
These will help to reduce tension, resistance, and friction on your hair as you sleep. Avoid cotton pillow cases and wraps if you can since it is easy for your hair to snag on the fibers. Plus, cotton is rougher than silk and satin, both of which will be gentle on your hair as you toss and turn.
Limit how long you wear a particular style.
Keeping your hair in one style for too long weakens the strands and decreases how effectively you can clean and care for your hair. A maximum of six to eight weeks is the general rule for how long you should keep your hair in a protective style.
Take care of your hair in between styles.
Once you’re done rocking a protective style, take a while to focus on maintaining your natural hair before moving on to the next show stopper. Some TLC in form of detangling, a trim, and regular washing and deep conditioning will work wonders!
How do you keep your natural hair growing strong while in a protective style? What’s your favorite protective style?