If you’re looking to transition from a perm to natural hair or just in need of a break from daily care maintenance, wearing a protective hairstyle can be a saving grace for your hair—and your patience. Not only does wearing your style of choice make it easy to change up a regular top knot or abundance of curls, but experts say the suitable protective styles can benefit your hair growth.
What is a protective hairstyle?
Protective hairstyles come in many forms, including braids, twists, Bantu knots, faux locs, and lace front wigs. “I would define protective hairstyling as a style that protects the shaft and ends of the hair,” founder and CEO of Poshglad Braided Wigs, Gladys Okereke, tell POSHGLAD.com. “Protective hairstyles should also keep the edges and nape of the neck protected as well. It’s the hairstylist’s job to ensure that a style is never compromising the health and integrity of their client’s hair.”
Author and celebrity hairstylist Monaé Everett agrees, adding that the proper protective styles are optimized for the lowest amount of manipulation possible along with the ends of your hair.
What are some benefits of wearing protective styles?
“It’s always nice to experiment with different styles without much concern for damaging your natural hair,” Everett says. “Low manipulation coupled with minimizing breakage from general maintenance like combing and brushing generally increases growth retention.” Additionally, suppose you’re usually one to find something you enjoy and stick with it (especially when it comes to beauty). In that case, protective hairstyling is an ideal option, as these looks are created to last longer than your average hairstyle. Before choosing a new look to try, Everett says taking proper care of your scalp and natural hair is a must. “A protective style is only protective if your hair is properly cleansed and moisturized,” she says. “You want to keep your scalp in optimal condition and always place priority on ensuring your protective hairstyle isn’t too tight.”
How long should a protective hairstyle typically be worn?
Although it depends on the look, experts say that many protective styles can be worn in your hair for up to a month or more at a time with the right care. The CEO of Poshglad Braided Wigs said, and I quote, “Here at Poshglad Braided Wigs, we’ve worked with clients who request styles like cornrows, knotless braid, box braid, or twists, and they’re able to maintain the look for up to a month. However, If those looks were done solely on a lace wig hair and extensions added, the lifespan of the style would be significantly higher for up to two to three years.” In addition to using hair oil and leave-in conditioner, experts recommend sleeping in a satin scarf or bonnet at night to avoid flyaways, retain moisture, and keep hair intact. As a backup to your bonnet or scarf, a silk or satin pillowcase can also come in handy to protect your hair while you sleep.