What are Protective Styles?

Mini twists on natural hair in an updo style
Natural Twists Updo Hairstyle
Natural Twists Updo Hairstyle

If you’re newly natural, you probably don’t know about protective styles. If you are one of the many who have asked about protective styles and protective styling, keep reading.

Protective Styles are any low-manipulation style that does not require excessive daily combing and brushing. Ideally, in this style, your hair does not brush against your clothing and your ends would typically be tucked away to protect them from the elements (eg. cold and wind which may dry out hair). Also, protective styles should not be tight on the hairline, cause breakage or require heat to be achieved.

There are two types of protective styles.

Canerow Cornrow Updo Hairstyle
Canerow Cornrow Updo Hairstyle
  1. Short Term Protective Styles: These are styles which last less than 2 weeks. They may require light manipulation such as moisturising, sealing and brushing or smoothing (as is the case with styles like buns and roll and tuck styles) but not detangling.

    Kinky Twist Extensions
    Kinky Twist Extensions – Source
  2. Long-Term Protective Styles: These styles typically last 2 weeks to 2 months. Such styles include cornrows and braids extensions. These typically only require the application of moisture.

A short list of protective styles includes:

  1. Bantu knots
  2. Plaits and Twists – Don’t make these too small or keep them in for so long that they start to loc. That only causes more breakage on removal. Also, remember that you still need to keep your scalp and hair cleansed and moisturised.
  3. Cornrows – Avoid braiding tightly.
  4. Updos – These can require little manipulation and last at least a day or two.
  5. Buns – Not too tight on the hairline now
  6. Headwraps  – Use silk/satin bases to avoid cotton blends from sucking the moisture out of your hair.
  7. Pinned up or short twists and plaits
  8. Braid extensions
  9. Wigs – Be sure to moisturise, deep condition and wash just as regularly as  you would your loose hair and never go without a wig cap.
  10. Weaves – Avoid weaves that utilise glue. The glue usually takes your hair with it when it’s gone. Opt for sew-ins and if you leave out any in the front, do so only with hair that is similarly textured. You don’t want to damage your leave-out with regular heat applications.

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