After 11 weeks of potentially getting to know and nurture our curls and coils, there is light at the end of the tunnel! With states across the US being given the green light to begin opening salons under new guidelines, we may be returning to the comfort of a salon chair and favorite styles sooner than later. But the last thing we want is for this break to have been all for not so before you bring out the chemicals and heat, consider a protective style.
By definition, a protective style is a style that tucks the ends of your hair away from being exposed to damaging agents such as sun, heat, and constant manipulation. And the options are endless! Here’s a quick breakdown.
My favorite due to their versatility, low-maintenance and affordability! Braided into your natural hair usually with synthetic hair (very cost affordable), box braids can vary in size, color, length and style. With most of your scalp exposed, this is the easiest protective style to allow you to continue to thoroughly cleanse and moisturize your scalp which is necessary for hair growth. Grab yourself some braid spay and oil to rub on your scalp and along your edges and you’re set! Tip – mind the length of time you keep these braids in. It is so tempting to stick with this get-up-and-go style, however, having your hair braided up for too long can result in increased breakage and dryness.
Even more versatile then box braids, crochet styles are definitely a close second favorite. This process involves braiding up all of your hair into cornrows and then having the style you choose crocheted into them. Whether they’re braids, locs, or even loose curls, the stylist takes pre-separated strands and, using a tool, loops it under and around your cornrows for an effortless full weaving effect. This method over box braids is considerably quicker since the individual pieces of hair are already done, versus having to braid each piece root to end. Tip – where you place your part can work for or against you in making this style look more natural. Also, wrapping is a MUST to ensure the loops don’t get loose quicker than necessary.
Once I had my first sew-in, I never looked back. Sew-ins, or “full weaves” can literally take you and your style wherever you want to go. There are no limits. This protective style, again, works by cornrowing some, most, or all of your natural hair to your scalp, and then sewing wefts of hair extensions into the braids with a thread and a needle. Instead of individually looped pieces like the crochet styles, the extensions come in long wefts and are sewed in from one side of your head to the other.
Completely customizable, the wefts of hair can be cut to fit custom sections of your head to add length or fullness for a particular look. Tip – hair quality matters. Unlike the first two methods, sew-ins can run at a higher price depending on the brand, quality, and length of hair. From silky to perm to natural yaki, you want to choose a texture that either closely matches your natural or preferred texture, and be sure to pick one that’s of a higher quality to make styling and maintaining easiest. Shedding, tangling, and improper blending can quickly diminish this complex look so be sure to find a reputable brand. Also, your head scarf is your sew-in’s best friend!
This protective style may be the simplest one of the list, but don’t sleep on it (literally and figuratively.) Celebrities of all races utilize wigs for the sheer ease of changing or elevating a look in literal minutes. The install process can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. You can throw a wig cap over your natural hair after simply combing it down and pulling it back low depending on your texture, or you can go the route of braiding all of your hair back into cornrows first to ensure a flatter surface to lay your wig on.
Wigs are the least trying on your natural hair because it’s essentially just a cap covering every bit of your hair. If you’re wearing your wig day to day, the fact that you can take it off whenever need be and love on your natural hair makes this style a no-brainer for ultimate protection. Tip – glues and gels used to achieve that slicked down look on your edges can do substantial damage. Try alternate products like setting a leave-in conditioner on damp edges under a scarf before applying your cap, or by placing and styling your wig so that your edges aren’t shown.
Whichever protective style you choose, you’ll be sure to feel good looking good while also maintaining as much as your hair health as possible!
Jasmin Wells is a wife, mother, and entrepreneur rambling her way through it all. Her favorite pastimes include soul searching, oversharing, and spreading light through her Instagram stories.