scr

There has been a long standing myth among the natural hair community that the only way to grow long healthy hair is to use protective hairstyles. For those new to the natural hair community, protective styling involves putting your hair into a style that involves tucking your ends away from the atmosphere to protect them from damage whilst your hair grows. The premise is that if the ends of your hair don’t break and your hair continues to grow, then you will achieve longer hair.

This myth is so deeply entrenched in the natural hair community that women will often do back to back protective style for upwards of a year to reach their hair goals. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of women who have achieved amazing lengths from protective styling, but there are a few women who never yield results from all their efforts. Some of the problems that many women experience are:

  • Tangling from hair being untouched for long periods of time. This especially occurs in styles that take so long to put in that the mere thought of taking them down after only a few days seems like a waste. Thus, those women decide to leave in those styles for weeks.
  • Dryness from hair that is left untouched and uncared for for too long
  • Breakage from over manipulating the hair to create elaborate hairstyles

Confronting the Myth

Contrary to popular belief, protective styling is not necessary for speedy hair growth. Instead low manipulation styles are key.

Low manipulation styles, unlike protective hairstyles, do not require that your hair and ends be tucked away for protection. Instead it works on the premise that if you do simple styles and manipulate your hair as little as possible, then you will not do unnecessary damage to your hair and will retain length. These styles are better because:

  • Easier to install. - Styles like wash-and-gos and twist/ braid outs are far less taxing on the hair than installing mini twists, extension braids etc. By manipulating the hair less for styling, you minimize the damage to your hair. Before installing a protective style, think about whether the manipulation to install it will cause more damage to your hair than if you just styled it regularly and if its purpose is defeated. 
  • Easier to maintain the hair. - The problem with a lot of protective hairstyles is that once installed, women tend to forget that they still have to maintain the hair, especially when it is hidden under wigs or entwined in braids. Also, if the hair is hard to get at, or moisturizing it will ruin the style, many women will opt for style over healthy hair. Low manipulation styles, however, usually do not require that the hair be bound in intricate styles making the hair easier to access.
  • More flexible - The main gripe with protective styles is that the can become boring after a while. Having your hair in a style for weeks at a time can be a major problem for many of us curlies as most of us suffer from serious cases of hand in hair syndrome. Low manipulation styles however, give curlies the opportunity to vary their styles and avoid becoming bored.

Low Manipulation Styles to Try

Instead of focusing on the usual protective hairstyles like twists, weaves and wigs, why not try these following styles to reduce manipulation, make accessing and caring for your hair easy and retain length?

  • Wash-and-gos: This style can be done several ways, but the most basic way to accomplish this style is to wash and condition your hair and detangle it thoroughly before styling. Once done, a moisturizing conditioner or leave-in or moisturizer can be used depending on your preference. A styler or gel can be layered on top for added hold if necessary. To ensure that you keep your hair healthy while it is styled, make sure you moisturize your hair as much as it needs it.
  • Twist/braid outs: This style can be done on freshly cleansed hair or dry hair that has been stretched for added length and volume. After moisturizing, apply your styler of choice and separate your hair into sections and twist or braid it. For added interest, you could put the ends of your hair or the entire length itself on rollers. Once your hair is completely dry, or after some time has passed, unravel and separate the twists gently to hide the parts and increase the volume. The best part about these styles is that you do not need to rewet your hair to restyle. To make the hair pliable enough to detangle, you can either spray it with water or add a good detangling product, then add a styler if necessary and restyle. Also, to maintain your hair's health, make sure you moisturize and seal your hair, especially at the ends.

Do You

I know this information may seem confusing and contradictory, especially since this article seems to suggest that all hairstyles are created equally, but if it’s been said once it’s been said many times: you have to do what's best for your hair.

This article merely covers suggestions for an alternative way to maintain your hair’s health if traditional protective styling does not work. Also, please note that a hairstyle itself will not guarantee your hair's health. It must also be in conjunction with good hair care practices, plenty of moisturizing, a standing appointment for good deep conditioning, reduced usage of combs and brushes and minimizing the number of times you style your hair.

As always, I wish you love, peace and curly haired bliss.

0 Comments
If I want to twist my hair do I have to use extentions or can I use only my hair
Interesting Article thanks for taking the time to address this topic! I agree with a lot of what's in this article. It's very true that just because you put your hair in a PS it doesn't guarantee that it will speed up retention. All things have to be considered, as you said. But I think I"m having a problem with this title. The "Myth" It seems to give PS a negative stamp, as if naturals only do it to get length retention. Most women put their hair up in PS to take a break from styling it everyday and to help keep their hands out of their hair, which minimizes knots and breakage. True it doesn't grow any faster? But if put in properly, moisturized and cared for, PS is very instrumental in retaining length and preserving the integrity of your ends. But, my over all point is that length retention is not the primary reason Protective Styling is used by naturals.
I love this article. :) I used to feel like I had to wear protective styles in order to retain lenght when I first went natural. I had heard on one youtube video that there are "consequences" if you wear your hair out. Twists can be a great style, but they did not suit my personality. I looked like miss cicly from the colored purple. When I wore twists I still got tangles and knots which is what i was afraid of so I decided to say f it and DO ME! I wear my hair out now and have learned to maintain my curls. :D never been happier!
I agree with this article 125%! Protective styling (PSing) is not the only way to retain length for kinky/coily hair. The key is gentle handing, low manipulation and moisture. There are many techniques to accomplish this--not just PSing. In my hair care regimen I accomplish this by doing the following: -finger-detangling stretched, sectioned (12 parts), conditioner-coated hair before washing -washing in (12) twisted sections -moisturizing after a wash and as needed -wearing braid-outs and other stretched styles (Bantu knot-outs, twist-n-curls on dry hair, etc.) My hair retains length well with this regimen. I keep my scalp clean, my hair moisturized/stretched and am generally gentle with my coils.
I find this to be true, especially with my hair. When my hair is in extensions my hair ALWAYS thins out and becomes very unhealthy. I have very dry hair which needs to be moisturized constantly. When I remove the extensions, the hair where the braid was started at always forms a knot and hen comes out.
I understand the direction of this article providind an alternative to "protective styling" but my natural hair has limitations which is: 1) hair strands are fine so it breaks easily, 2) density of my hair is lower than average density hair & 3) no real curl pattern. For many of us in any of these categories, may not be able to do what's suggested here without feeling the style looks bad on them. For many of us any of the 3 categories I've mention, the only alternative is protective styling in the form of tucking hair away, braid extensions, wigs and weaves. Regardless of what method is used whether doing braid/twist out, wash-n-go's or even long-term protective stylings, the bottom line is being consistent in moisturizing, cleansing and overall maintenance WILL ALLOW your hair to grow. Neglect and/or over-manipulation with wash-n-go's, twist outs and protective styling can result in at breakage and tangling. The responsibility always lies on the person to use common sense and good judgement that whatever method is chosen to help promote growth to keep the hair cleansed, moisturized and untangled, as possible.
I totally agree with this article. I have been natural for 2 years, after doing the BC in June 2010. I don't do protective styles; only twist out and wash & go. I moisturize every morning with water and moisturizer. I get my hair blowed/flat iron maybe 2-3 a year and my hair is currently below my shoulders when straightened. I think I have the same growth success as those that do protective styles, if not more.
I found this to be very true. I got kinky twist about 2 months ago, and although my hair did grow I found that leaving it out helps me keep it moisturized like it needs to be. I prayed it with water everyday and used my normal products, but it does not reach my hair the way it does when my hair is out. Thanks for the post!

Social