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Full Guide on 4c Hair Protective Styling: Who, What, Why, When, How


Day 11 of 31 styles @ 31 places dual challenges

What is protective styling?

The definition of this term varies from person to person and blogger to blogger. But I define protective styling as any style that protects your hair from physical, chemical and environmental disturbances.  

Physical disturbances involves daily styling, combing, and any curl/coil alteration such as twists, braids, “out styles”, updos, stretched hairstyles and the like.
Chemical alteration involves heat and color treatments.
Environmental disturbances involves elements/pollutants from the air which can bind to the hair strands and cause damage. Environmental disturbances also involves extreme weather conditions such heat and cold.

The cumulative effect of all these disturbances can be detrimental to the health of our hair and an hindrance to hair growth.

While some of these disturbances are inevitable, some of them can be avoided or minimized by simply putting the hair away to rest for a while. Protective styling is a great way to avoid physical disturbances and reduce the effects of environmental disturbances. Depending on the style of choice, you can actually retain more length when your hair is in a protective state in comparison to when it’s out.

Heat styling changes the chemical structure of your hair
Who should be doing protective styling?

– Those with fine hair which is prone to breakage even when handled with great care
– Those who tend to do too much with their hair without giving it any break
– Those who live in a cold, hot and windy climate. As well as those who live in a polluted environment
– Those with a busy schedule
– Those in show business
– Newbies who aren’t yet comfortable with changing up a style every now and then

Great style to protect against physical and environmental disturbances
Why should you protective style?

– To protect your hair from yourself! Your hair needs a break from all the twisting, bantu-knots, up-dos, flat twists, blow-outs and what not. In other words, it needs a break from overmanipulation.
– To protect your hair from the scorching heat, wind chills, blazing cold, smog, car pollution, and other environmental debris.
– To preserve the ends so they stay on your head much longer than they would if you’re always twisting, bending and stretching them daily and nightly. In other words, you can retain more length when your hair is left undisturbed for a while.
– Gives you some extra time to spend on other things at night and in the morning. And depending on how long the style is kept in for, you can spend the 2hours you would have spent on the weekends twisting your hair on other productive activities like reading.

This hairstyle can easily freeze in a cold weather and be blown away by heavy windchills
When should you do protective styling?

– When you feel your hair hasn’t gained significant length over the course of a few months
– You know you’ll be busy for a while and won’t be able to spend as much time on your hair
– You’ll be traveling or going off somewhere and are unable to pack up your home salon to take with you on the trip
–  During extreme weather climates such as winter and summer

A weekly protective styling is better than none. Though you’ll benefit more when the style is left in for about 3-4weeks

How should you protective style?

You could get some practice from the free tutorials on YouTube. Depending on the style, I suggest you stick to tutorials on hair that’s similar to your texture and length. This way, you can see how your hair should turn out. This means someone with a type 4 TWA SHOULDN’T be watching tutorials by Naptural85, unless it’s on haircare tips. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with your hair, then you can start watching tutorials by women with a different hair texture and length for inspiration and additional hair tips. 
– You can either choose to use hair extensions or use only your hair. Although it’s best to only use your hair, so that you don’t run into any hair woes when it’s time to remove the extensions.
– You can choose styles such as single twists, braids, corn-rows, flat twists, and classic buns
Where should you protective style?

– You can either do it by yourself in the comfort of your home or have an Educated stylist on Natural hair style your hair for you. I always emphasize on educated stylists over professional ones because there are so many professional stylists but very few of them are actually educated on Natural haircare.

Head wraps are also a great protective style, a great accessory for a hot, cold or windy day