6 Easy Protective Hairstyles
Maintaining and nurturing curly hair takes a lot of time and effort. It requires time to learn about your hair natural, time to foster new habits and the effort to maintain good health.
However, most beginners when starting their curly hair journey, including myself, place too much focus on the styling and final look of their curly hair, rather than reversing any damange and improving the hairs overall health. Not suprisingly, if we put the effort into nurturing our hair then the styling results will follow. Hence to adoption of protective styling.
What are Protective Styles?
Protective hairstyles are what they say on the tin. Hairstyles that protect your hair.
They will keep your ends tucked away, keeping the hair protected from manipulation (combing, pulling, snagging on clothes etc) and also keeping it from the detrimental effects of your environment (weather etc).
A lot of naturals will tend to wear the hair in protective hairstlyes during the winter months as the cold can have detrimental affect on narutal hair. They protect your hair from icy winds, rain, snow and frosty air. Also, in the summer months, protective styling prevents sun, wind and water damage.
Our roots and hairline also benefit from protective styling as we change where the places of tension are on our scalp. Ultimately it gives our hair a welcome break from treatments, leave-ins, product build up giving you the change to regain health and boost growth with minimal effort.
If you are still wondering what a specific protective style is, I assure you that you already know. You will have seen these hairstlyes all over instagram, walking down the street and especially if you know ANYONE who has afro hair!
Afro-textured hair is often prone to breakage or damage from the elements; protective hairstyles aim to guard against this and have been part of the community for generations. Our ancestors wore their hair in these styles daily for practicaltiy and beauty. In recent years we have simply given it some extra flare.
Protective styles include but are not limited to twists, box braids, updos, and wigs. Most of what you may have seen online will included added synthetic or human hair for more versatility in color, thickness, length, and appearance in texture. These protective styles are extremely popular in our community.
Now, what about us beginners?
A lot of what I have mentioned above refers mainly to long term styles that can be left in for weeks if not months with good maintenance. They will also require a hairstylist to do for you, which can also cost a pretty penny.
However, if you are anything like me when starting out you will want to keep your hair out and curly as much as possible and may not want to commit to so much time in one style. That is fine and I quickly learned that you can recreate many of these styles at home using your own hair and still reaping the benefits of protection.
I personally wash my hair every 7 - 10 days and tend to keep my hair in a protective style for 3-4 days in between. It gives me a break from styling and worrying about my hair, and gives me hair a break from my hands and product build up.
Below are some of my go to easy and quick styles that you can recreate at home. All of these do not require the addition of extensions, however you can feel free to add them in if you require.
If you do not know how to braid, I promise you it is not hard. Especially in the case of the below styles. There are links to youtube tutorials for you and it is definitly worth learning in order to maximise the benefits of these styles.
6 Easy Protective Styles:
Buns are great. High buns, low buns, two buns etc. All are super easy and a perfect way to wear your hair when you are buys with work and life. It is important however to ensure you do not wear your buns too tightly to prevent pulling and ensure you use hair bands that do not snag on your hair.
2. Mini Twists
Mini Twists are an awesome style that not only look cute while in but will also lead to a very nice 'twist out' when you take them down. When I first attempted mini twists I was suprised by how easy they were to do, however I rushed them and therefore they didnt last for very long.
When doing mini twists you can make them as large or as small as you like. Either way will provide the same benefits, however the smaller the twists are, the easier they are to style and the more of a curl pattern you will create for you twist out.
3. Flat Twists
I can't lie that this took me a couple of trys to master but this is without fail my favourite style for getting through the work week. I still only do two twists around the crown, but once you master this you can do a host of different looks.
This style is professional and elegant and the ends are kept nice and tightly tucked away at the nape of the neck.
Here is a great tutorial on how to do twists on yourself here.
4. At home Braids
Box Braids are very 'in' right now and if you go to a professioanl hairstylist you can have these put in with extensions and keep for the long term.
However, if you are looking for an easy at home version then you can recreate the look using just your own hair and some meticulous parting! You simply need to part your hair into small sections and do a standard 3 piece braid (plait). I tie the ends of each braid with a small elastic band to prevent them from unwinding.
I also like to include this style from time to time, as I enjoy the look while in and LOVE the 'braid out' look I get once I take them down.
5. Boxer Braids (2 Cornrows)
I am not sure this is the correct name for them, but I have always called them boxer braids so lets go with it. Basically two cornrows. This is actually my go-to as it is really really easy, looks fierce and holds up well.
This is another that took a little practise to master, but once you get it, its a great skill to have. When I have time and 'spare' extensions lying around I will also braid in some extra hair to gain more volume and length and make the style more durable therefore lasting around 1 week if maintained well.
Here is a great tutorial for cornrows.
I have never personally worn a wig, but they are very popular currentl and a great way to protect your natural hair. It allows you to mix up your stlye completely, change your hair colour and length in minutes. However, it does require some skills to install well and the best are not cheap.