Now that winter is here, we will transition in our dress sense in order to protect our bodies from the harm that can be caused by cold dry weather. What abour our hair? I hope this gives you enough information about protective styling to help you decide on how you will decorate your crown during this season.

Protective styling refers to any style that keeps your hair from being out in its natural state. This is anything from two strand twists with your own hair, weaves, braids, wigs, you name it, as long as your ends are tucked away. Ends are the oldest parts of our hair and as such are the most fragile and need the most care.

One of the benefits of protecive styling is that it keeps hair from constant manipulation which can cause breakage and stunt growth. It is encouraged mostly during the winter months as our hair is highly affected by the cold harsh weather that dominates winter. If you observe your natural hair you will realise that it loves water and humidity hence people in more tropical regions, let’s take Jamaica for example, have very healthy and supple natural hair. Of course we never rule out the gene factor when accounting for any of our physical attributes.

But it must be said, all hair is different and knowing what your hair loves is trial and error. These are just some general tips. Some people have their hair in protective styles through out the year, there is no hard and fast rule. A benefit that they get from protective styling is length (growing out their hair) and length retention (maintaining their length).

I personally have found that in the past my hair has grown faster when it’s stayed in a protective style for long periods of time. Also this is the easy way out of those still in the TWA stage.

Here are some other tips about protective styling:

  • It doesn’t always require extensions;
  • You must also allow your hair to breathe, i.e. take breaks in between styles; some people find the best way to do this is to hide their hair under a wig … this is still a form of protective styling, letting your hair breathe means letting it be seen by the world in its glory for a few days.
  • Make sure while protecting your ends, your hairline or edges are also being taken care of

Most of this stuff isn’t really new if you come to think of it. Our moms would do our hair as pre-schoolers, dividing them into four sections making three strand braids with our own hair in each section before tucking in the ends. Most women with natural hair still do a version of this as a protective style. As children we would keep these on the whole week, wearing a doek to keep them in place when we went to sleep, keeping soil, grass and dust away from our hair during play-time. This was protective styling 101, we just didn’t know it back then.

I dreaded Sunday evenings, my mom would turn Sundays into wash days ending them with this specific style. I have two sisters, I’m in the middle, and this was done in chronological age order. What I hated most was the ‘tuck in’, that was hectic and extremely painful. My mom would have us each sit between her thighs with our heads on one or other of her thighs and she took no prisoners with that tuck in. Falling asleep on night one was the work of a strategic mind.

However, since my big chop I also adopted this and other ways of styling my TWA, I swear by it; plus it’s easy to do, easy to braid out and it helps with shrinkage. I guess a ‘Thanks Mom’ is in order!

Protective styling is also good for those who are transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair, for the exact same reasons. Maybe even more because it keeps you from worrying about the state of your transitioning hair (because it has two textures and therefore more challenging to maintain). This is also beneficial for people wanting length retention as well as to grow their hair longer if their hair is in a relaxed state.

This tip is suitable for everyone on a hair journey of any form. Even those who are just starting their dreadlocks and feel awkward about how they look in the early days, weaves and wigs could be your solution.

Tag me on your protective styles on Instagram: @vuvu_vena

Catch my video on protective styling below:

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