Protective Styling

13 Apr

Model Eva Marcille wearing a bun

Protective styles are styles that protect the ends of the hair from rubbing, splitting, and being damaged by the elements as well as our clothes.   The hair is either tucked away or braided so that it is not rubbing against clothes, couches, car seats etc.

The ideal protective style is one that has been achieved without heat.  Reducing the amount of heat on your hair makes a big difference to the health of the hair for most women.  Most women find that their hair improves significantly just by reducing the amount of heat you were used.

Protective styles fall into two categories: complete and low-manipulation protective styles.

Complete protective styles are styles that have the ends out of sight and are 100% protective.  These styles include buns, clip on pony tails, sew in weaves etc.

Low-manipulation styles are styles that do expose the ends to some degree, but are protective in that they drastically cut down on the manipulation (combing/handling) the hair experiences. These styles include rollersets, braids, cornrows, some pinned up styles, braidouts and twistouts etc.  Braidouts / twistouts are when you braid or twist your hair for a period of time then undo the braids / twists to reveal wavy hair.  Remember though that these styles can be detrimental if done too tight or if your own hair is ignored and not looked after.

Protective styling is not a requirement for hair growth but it is definitely useful for encouraging length retention. If you have been having problems growing your hair past shoulder length then this may be worth a try.

Protective styling is a controversial subject in the hair community with two camps.  One camp believes that protective styling is imperative to grow hair beyond shoulder length while the other camp suggests that it is not necessary and hair can be grown whatever the styling method chosen.  In my research I noticed that almost all women on hair boards / forums who grew their hair to waist length used protective styles some of the time.  This may have been intentionally or just for convenience when dealing with long hair.  One thing is common though – many women complain that once their hair reaches shoulder length it ’stops’ growing.

Remember – the style is only protective as long as you are not harming your own hair, especially in the case of weaves and braids where our own hair is sometimes ignored.


4 Responses to “Protective Styling”

  1. Busi 20 May, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    I have really short relaxed hair which I am trying to trnasition. Can you recommend a hairsalon in the Eastrand Gauteng SA (Kempton Park, Benoni, Boksburg, etc)that plaits tiny cornrows on really short hairs?

    • Tendayi 21 May, 2013 at 11:41 am #

      Hi Busi

      Sorry I cannot recommend a salon for you. I do not know any salons in that area.


  1. Beginner Wednesday – Transitioning from relaxed to natural hair « africanhairblog - 22 February, 2012

    […] more protective styling to help reduce […]

  2. Happy New Year | africanhairblog - 17 January, 2014

    […] not to relax my hair while pregnant.  I’ve managed to go so long between relaxers by doing protective styles (braids and cornrows).  When my hair is not in a protective style I do something really simple […]

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