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Hits and Misses with Protective Styling

Last protective style in April with Marley hair

At the beginning of this year, I had a 6months plan to keep my hair in braided extensions for the first 6months of the year, with an end goal of gaining 3inches by the end of June. To my surprise, I noticed that my hair had grown about 0.5″ by the end of the first month and so I was confident with the goals I had set for my hair. However, another length check two months later made me unsure and confused about the rate of my hair growth because my hair had not gained a full inch by then, despite having it in braids.

I was also very baffled because I just started eating healthier and was exercising more. So instead of crying or popping “hair growth” pills, I just continued to do my usual thing hoping my hair would eventually bounce back and co-operate.

I retained the same length with a protective style from Jan-April as I did without protective style from May-June

So, what are the hits of protective styling?
– If done well, taken care of and left in for a reasonable length of time i.e 8weeks at most, your hair will thrive and you’ll be able to retain most of the length you gained in the 4-8weeks.
– Your diet, lifestyle, health and hair care habits will also determine the length of your new growth and length retention
– Your hair characteristics i.e the thickness and texture will determine your success with protective styling. For example, Leila of Black Girl Long Hair (BGLH) has fine hair, so the only way she can have long hair is by keeping her hair in a protective style for at least 4weeks.
– Hair tends to grow faster in the summer time, so a protective style done in the summer may yield better results than those done in the winter time.

twists evolving into locs

Misses of protective styling
Tiny and tight styles will do the opposite of what they’re suppose to do. So the styles you choose can actually break your hair
Excessive manipulation can lead to breakage when the hair is taken out
– Getting your braids wet too many times will cause your hair to tangle and become matted with the braids, this will result in your hair breaking off when it’s time to remove the braids
Leaving the style in for too long. I notice my hair starts breaking if I leave braids in my hair for more than 5weeks. I also notice that my twists (without extensions) starts to lock when left in for more than a week and this just means breakage when I have to untwist.
Styling wet hair. I recently stopped styling my hair when wet because I always end up loosing all the hair that I struggled to achieve with my last protective style to breakage. So now, I would put my hair in about 8-12chunky twists to stretch it and then style the following day when it’s fully dry.
– Protective style done in the winter time may not yield great results in comparison to the ones you did in the summer time.
The way you take down the style will also determine how much of the new growth you get to keep. I braid my hair chunky and so I’m able to use my fingers to remove the style without using a tool.

Knowing all these points, I am now testing a new theory by keeping my hair (no extensions) in a protective style for a maximum of two weeks from Mid August to Mid November  to see how much of my new growth I could retain during the Fall season.