Oprah Put Us On
I believe it was Oprah that took protective styling mainstream. Of course women have been wearing hair extensions and wigs for decades, but when Oprah told the world her gorgeous mane was the result of a great hair stylist and protective styling it was a real aha moment for a lot of us.
I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories of people losing their edges and suffering from traction alopecia, and more as a result of wearing weaves, wigs, braids, etc. But it’s not really a protective style if it’s doing more harm than good.
So what exactly is a protective style?
A protective style is any hairstyle designed to minimize or eliminate daily manipulation of the hair in an effort to prevent breakage, heat damage, and promote length retention. The list of protective hairstyles is practically endless and can include styles using just your natural hair or adding hair extensions to complete the look.
There are 3 keys to effective protective styling:
Prep - freshly washed, deep conditioned and properly trimmed hair is the foundation of a successful protective style. You also want to ensure there is no buildup on the scalp before you go into a protective style.
Maintenance - just because your hair is tucked away doesn’t mean you can just set it and forget it. It is important that you continue to nourish your scalp with a quality hair oil to establish a healthy growth environment. Many braided and twisted styles also allow you to add moisture to the hair by misting water and/or liquid leave in conditioners on the hair or applying a cream based moisturizer.
Removal - All the hard work you put in for prep and maintenance will be lost if you don’t invest the time and effort it requires to properly remove your protective style. I’ll save the details for proper removal for a later post. In short - take your time, detangle in sections using a wide tooth comb BEFORE you shampoo, and use a deep conditioner or hair mask to replenish your strands.