This post is all about natural hair and ways you can maintain healthy hair with protective styles.
Please note that I am not a licensed cosmetologist. What works for my hair may not work for yours.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s jump right into it shall we? We’ll begin with some background information.
My Natural Hair
I’ve been natural for 8 years and I categorize my natural hair as 4c. My curls are extremely coily, thick, and course. One important thing to understand is that the term “natural” has different meanings to some naturalistas. Some believe that having natural hair means avoiding any hair products that contain chemicals, especially the ones that alter the appearance of your hair (dyes, texturizers, relaxers, etc). Others believe being natural just means avoiding hair relaxers, which permanently straightens your hair. I identify with the latter. I don’t mind experimenting with my hair to a certain degree.
I’ve tried many products and styles on my hair over the course of 8 years. I’ve shaved all my hair off….. twice and wore a low cut, I’ve texturized it, I’ve even dyed it a couple of times. But, the one thing that I don’t plan on doing is relaxing my natural hair. I’ve thought about it, because some pixie styles and short cuts have looked bomb! I mean sis, have you seen Letoya Luckett’s hair in Greenleaf this past season?!
But, I’ve set a goal for my hair. Anytime I think about giving up on my natural hair journey I think about my end goal. I am trying to retain length and I want to be able to wear my natural hair in a high or low bun (without it being stretched). I’m very happy with how my how hair has grown over the past year! More about that in another post.
So, let’s talk about protective styling. Before you or anyone else installs a protective style in your hair, it is essential that your hair is clean and moisturized. Ideally, your ends should be sealed and tucked, and the style shouldn’t be too tight where it could be pulling your hair (we want to keep our edges in tact hunny).
Do you have a favorite moisturizer? If you don’t, I highly recommend you find one. I am finally trying to get a regimen and stick to it. I usually use Shea Moisture hair products. I’ve tried A LOT of products though, and to be perfectly honest, I used to be a product junky. Don’t fall into the trap! (This can cost you time, money, and the health of your hair. Most naturalistas aren’t using the same products consistently – no regimen and aren’t able to tell what works for their hair. Some products wont work. It’s okay. Learn what your hair likes slowly and without trying multiple products once.
Before installing a protective style I like to wash my hair with a clarifying shampoo to ensure my scalp is clean of any product build up that I may have. A simple and cheap clarifying shampoo will work just fine. Then I follow up with my Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Grow and Restore Rinse Out Conditioner and my Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Restore deep conditioner. DO NOT SKIP DEEP CONDITIONING…EVER!
After that I move on to moisturizing. To moisturize my hair I use to LOC or LCO method. These two methods are the order in which you apply the products to moisturize your hair and seal it in your strands. LOC – liquid , oil, cream. LCO – liquid, cream, oil. Easy, peasy.
Below are pictures of me wearing some protective styles that I’ve installed myself. My favorite go-to hairstyle is two flat twist. They are quick and super easy for me to do. By the way, I live for a good side part!
Crochet braids, box braids, Havana twists wigs, etc. are also great protective styles. However, these styles require a little more work because you don’t have direct access to your strands. One method I like to use to moisturize my hair is to use a spray bottle filled with water and one of my favorite leave-in conditioners and spray my hair. A spray bottle like this works just fine. Then I follow up by applying an oil to my scalp by using a bottle with an applicator tip like this.
If you know how to flat twist then this style is super easy. Anytime I don’t really feel like doing my hair, I simply put in two flat twist. You can jazz it up by laying your baby hairs and wearing accessories. I like to use Creme of Nature’s Perfect Edges for my baby hair when I do lay them down. I’m pretty simple most days though and skip that step. Here are two pictures of me wearing flat twist on blown out hair.
Buns are great protective styles too! Again moisturized strands and tucked ends are key! I wear my buns with or without extensions. I like to use eco styler gel when my hair isn’t stretched so that my hair is laid down and kind of sleek.
I remember getting crochet braids as a child and I hated it!! Well sis, crochet braids have made a comeback. There are so many styles you can do with crochet braids. It’s become the norm to use them to shorten the time that it takes to install time consuming styles like box braids, Senegalese twist, and even sew ins!
I usually install crochet braids when I want a quick style that will last longer and still look good in a couple of weeks. I think it looks better and lasts longer because you can’t really see the new growth from the cornrows as easily as you would see with a regular box braid style, Marley twist style, etc. In the pictures below I am wearing crochet braids. One style is jumbo senegalese twist and for the other I used Jamaican Bounce hair and cut it into a short bob look.
I live for twists whether they’re marley, Havana, Senegalese, spring twist or Cuban twist. They are super quick for me to do myself and the hair is cheap – I use kanekalon hair hair for some of the styles like jumbo senegalese twists. Look at my most recent protective hair style here.
Wigs are so bomb! I love that I have easy access to my hair underneath. I can wash my hair or moisturize when I please. I am not restricted to keeping it on my head for weeks at a time unless I want to. In my opinion this protective style ranks #2 (after flat twists) because of how quickly it can come off – when we want it to. Let’s be honest, some days we want to snatch it off when we get home or even on the car ride home from a long day of work.
I hope you learned about protective hairstyles and incorporate them in your natural hair routine. If you don’t take anything away from this post, take this – moisturized hair and tucked ends are a must to achieve successful protective styles! You want to make sure your hair is protected from the elements (sun, cold, dry winter air, etc) and even your hands. Some of us tend to manipulate our hair a lot whether it’s by styling everyday (huge no-no) or by playing in our hair (excessive touching – twirling our hair for example). If your goal is to retain length, you’ll want to protective style.