When you wear your ends tucked away, your hair is in a protective style. This is important because your ends are the oldest and most fragile part of the strand. Frequent and regular washing, conditioning, styling, and detangling requires constant tugging on your hair, making it weaker than the last time. As a result, it's normal to experience some hair fall each time you touch your hair. In the world of natural hair, rocking protective styles has become an added bonus of having more (better) options for concealing hair on a multitude of levels. Protective styles include but are not limited to twists, braids, up-dos, and wigs. A lot of times, added synthetic or human hair is added for even more versatility in color, thickness, length, and appearance in texture.
Before you Braid: 6 Steps to Prepare Your Natural Hair for a Protective Style
1. Deep Cleansing
Before you braid your hair it should be clean. It’s best to get rid of any built up dirt, grease, and oil in your hair before you start the braiding process. Shampoo and condition your hair thoroughly with a moisturizing shampoo, once your hair is clean and conditioned it’s time to deep condition.
2. Deep Condition
Deep conditioning with a moisturizing conditioner prepares the hair by making detangling quick and painless, and drawing much need moisture to the hair.
3. Get a Trim
It’s best to get rid of knots and split ends before you get a protective hairstyle. Trimming your hair before getting a protective style can make for a smoother, neater appearance, as well as helps you to avoid excessive breakage or shedding while your hair is braided.
4. Use a Leave in Conditioner
One of the best ways to keep your hair protected while it is braided is by using a leave in conditioner and oil before you braid your hair, and applying it sparingly as needed while the hair is braided. Using a moisturizer and oil will leave hair feeling soft, smooth and manageable. You don’t have to worry about flakes and it aids in replenishing natural hair oils. Remember to not only nourish the scalp but the hair itself needs nourishing as well. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize.
5. Blow Dry Your Hair
The thicker and longer your hair, the more tangles you will have to battle. Shed hair seems to wrap and knot around individual hair strands creating nasty tangles. Sometimes the only way to get rid of those stubborn tangles is to heat stretch the hair with a blow dryer. You could really get in there and unravel any knots without breakage. It also helps to minimize single strand knots, and makes the braiding process easier.
6. Find a Good Stylist
You can’t have a fabulous protective style, without having a fabulous hair stylist. Let’s face it not everyone who knows how to braid can do it correctly and protect your natural hair while doing so. Do your research! Make sure that your stylist has experience caring for and styling natural hair such as Divalicious Salon. Remember your hair should never be too tight or uncomfortable. If your stylist doesn’t know how to properly braid without causing you pain, or ripping out your hair, run! Find someone who understands your hair, and the art of braiding. Protective styles can be amazing for your hair when done properly.
The reason we’re encouraged to regularly put our hair in protective style is because it is one of the main ways to retain length, as it reduces any touching or manipulation and hence reduces hair breakage. Now even though we may want to ‘let our hair be’ during the time it’s in a protective style, we still need to take care of it to ensure it stays healthy and that we retain as much length as possible.
1. Moisturize your hair often- While you hair is tucked-away, it is still important to ensure that your hair not your scalp stays moisturized, especially when using extensions because these have the tendency to dry out our hair leaving it brittle and prone to breakage. So while under a protective style, ensure that you use a moisturizing conditioner to spritz to the length of your hair at least 3 times a week( Type 4C will have to do this 2x a day until hair is fully hydrated) and seal it in with an oil (NOT COCONUT OIL, PLEASE) of your choice.
2. Protect your hair during bed-time- We spend about 30% of our time in bed, and that’s why it’s super-duper important that we cater to our hair needs as we sleep. While lying in bed it is important that you sleep on a satin pillowcase or wrap your hair in a satin or silk scarf or bonnet because unlike cotton, satin or silk material help our hair retain moisture as it does not suck it out.
Watch our video on how to properly detangle after a protective style
Whether you’re removing synthetic hair or removing a style done on your own hair, shed hair and tangles are inevitable. Finger detangling is the best way to feel for those tangles and remove the shed hair you’ve accumulated during all those weeks. Finger comb your hair as much as possible before using a wide tooth comb. Remember, you’ve been shedding hair on a daily basis, so don’t worry too much if you end up with a nice sized ball of hair in the end.
1. Two Strand Twists
3. Knotless Braids
4. Crochet Braids/Crochet Extensions
5. Feed-in Cornrows