One common conversation I come across when I’m out and about usually starts like this;
Woman wearing a Protective Style (Sew-In, Wig or Braids): “I love your Natural Hair”, Me: "Thank you!" Her: "My hair is natural too, but girrrl I just can’t deal with the _____________ (enter shrinkage, texture, etc. here)" Me: "Oh, I understand, and I keep a cute wig on hand for days I can’t deal with my hair!"
And then we engage in the Naturalista's signature bonding conversation over our hair. So that brings me to the question, are we using Protective or Avoidance Styling? When I choose a protective style, its used to give myself (my hands, shoulders, wallet and shower drains) a rest from the day to day styling of my hair. I also use these styles to reduce manipulation to help achieve better length retention. Notice I didn’t say hair growth goals, because we mostly unable to control the rate of growth (genetics, hormones, growth phase, medication etc.) but we can minimize breakage at the ends. So ultimately when I’m moving into a protective style, it’s when my hair is at its optimal health. But what I’ve heard from most of my customers is usually quite the opposite. Protective styles are being used to combat breakage, thinning hair, overly dry hair, shrinkage or just flat out “I just don’t know what to do with it”. When you are experiencing any of the reasons above except for Shrinkage and “I don’t know what to do” (we will address these topics separately). This is the absolute WORSE time to set your hair on DND (Do Not Disturb).
If your hair is dry, it’s now time to review your current hair regimen and work to get those strands moisturized! Since the most popular protective styles are Braids and/or Sew-ins, adding additional tension and weight to hair that is shedding or breaking may make the issue worse. If your hair is thinning or breaking from back to back installs, just extending your time out of protective styling to rehydrate your hair will usually improve these issues. Traction Alopecia is a common issue associated with pulling the hair too tight overtime. And most of the time the damage begins before we become adults, with improper hair care methods that have been passed down from generation to generation. I was taught my daughter’s hair had to be “combed” at all times, so that usually involved gathering her hair into tight ponytails with black rubber bands, Jam Gel for the edges and heavy swinging bows on the ends for style. Her edges never quite recovered from my abuse.
Now back to using protective styling consistently to avoid our crown’s glorious property of Shrinkage and just plain out avoidance of the mere site of your own natural hair. If you want to show off that beautiful shoulder length hair you’ve worked so hard for, consider trying more stretched styles like Twist Outs, Bantu Knot Outs or Flexi Rod Sets. Now the last one is a bit tougher to tackle, this one is very personal and varies from each individual’s life experiences and opinions about the hair that grows naturally out of our heads. I challenge you give your hair 60 Days out of braids, weaves and wigs. Take some time to inspect your hair’s current state of health, treat yourself to a New Year’s treat by scheduling a professional steam hydration and trim, then work to create a realistic hair care routine. If you are interested in Joining our 60 Day TLC Challenge, click here to follow us on Instagram! We will be posting more details and dates for the challenge which will include product review tutorials and free giveaways.