Protective Styling! These are words I have heard more times than I can count. Some love it, some hate it! I’m going to ride the fence on this one (if it’s not obvious by the end of the post which side I lean on). I did a lot of research on this, so let’s start with what it means.
Protective styling is the process or technique used when handling hair, and not necessarily the style itself (the protective hairstyle). It’s the tools used and how they are used on hair. A protective style is one that shields ends and most of the hair from the natural elements. I know! My head was spinning too but stay with me. When protective styles like braids, cornrows, buns and twists are done correctly(there is a wrong way), they can be a great way to retain length.
At the start of my hair journey my hair was too short to get creative with anything, so I always installed braids. It was protective styling, right? My hair should have been getting longer but instead, I always ended with less hair than what I started with.
I was doing my protective styling the wrong way. Many Ugandan hair braiders install braids too tightly, too small, too long, or too heavy. We’ve all been a victim of one or all of these, at least I have! This very, very bad way of “protective styling” causes tension overload, which gives way for excessive and unnecessary breakage. I found a great post on Curl Centric that covers protective styling in more detail here. Besides the heavy tight braids that were doing me no good, I also struggled with ways to take care of my hair while it was braided.
My bad protective styling decisions over the years
I will be doing a series on protective styling for length retention and how to take care of your hair when it’s in a protective hair style. So, stay tuned, or subscribe to our newsletter! 🙂