Summer is officially here, and for many women with coily hair, it’s a bittersweet feeling. You are excited because of the warm weather, beach days, and summer vacation. But you also dread the summer because you ask yourself the same question every year: What am I going to do with my hair?
The summer season brings extreme heat and humidity, which doesn’t pair well with natural hair. Pool parties? Beach trip? Your friends can find you melting in the heat because you refuse to get in the water and risk getting your hair wet. Protective hairstyles are what help women with coily hair enjoy the summer. They can get up and go. Sweat all day and not have to check their hair in the mirror.
However, not everyone is a fan of them. Some women consider protective styling as the key to growth and healthier hair. Others say the tension from some of these styles can actually cause breakage, especially if your hair isn't being properly moisturized.
PROTECTIVE STYLES PROTECT NATURAL HAIR
Protective hairstyles aim to limit the stress of environmental factors on natural hair by keeping the ends of hair tucked away in order to discourage tugging, pulling, and manipulation. But if you don’t know how to maintain your natural hair under these styles, it can cause more harm than good.
Protective styles include things like wigs, buns, two-strand twists, box braids or cornrows, but the styles are honestly endless. Browsing the internet can be overwhelming when looking for inspiration.
The questions become inexhaustible:
Which style will last the longest? Which style will hurt the least? What type of hair should you buy? How many packs of hair do you need? Who is going to do your hair? How much will it cost? Can you actually sit in one place for more than 6 hours?
HOW TO KNOW WHAT STYLE IS RIGHT FOR YOU
When it’s time for women with natural hair to choose a new protective style, they try to think about the things they plan to do and places they plan to go while their hair is in that particular do.
For instance, if you know you will be on vacation this summer and plan to go in the water, you’ll most likely get box braids because they dry relatively quickly and all you have to do is put a little gel your edges.
If you want a look that mimics natural hair, but you're on a budget, maybe you will install kinky, curly crochet hair. If you’re looking for a quick “in-between styles” look, you’ll think about braiding 6 jumbo cornrows in your head.
The thicker and stronger your hair is, the less of a chance you’ll experience breakage from certain protective styles, such as box braids. Hairstyles that are too tight or pull too harshly on hair can cause breakage. People with finer hair or less density need to be more cautious of these sort of styles. But the true key is making sure your hair is thoroughly cleaned, deep conditioned, and moisturized prior to installing a protective hairstyle.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN TO TAKE OUT YOUR PROTECTIVE STYLE
Every style has an expiration date. What that date is for you, may differ from the next person. The rate at which your hair grows directly affects how long a style can last.
New growth is natural hair that can be seen growing from your scalp in styles such as box braids or twists. Because the braid is formed from the scalp, as your hair grows, the style loosens and your natural hair becomes more exposed. Protective styles like wigs hide natural hair, so it is easier to maintain the style longer because the new growth is not exposed.
Another sign that it is time to take out your protective style is when you see the buildup in your hair. If you choose to not wash your hair while it’s in a protective style, your hair becomes dirty, the same way that it would if your natural hair was exposed, and your scalp can become dry and flaky. The longer you refrain from washing your hair, the more buildup you get.
HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR PROTECTIVE STYLE
Aim to wash your hair to remove any buildup and keep your protective style refreshed. If you are wearing a wig, simply remove the wig and wash the braids underneath. Also, the key to maintaining your hair under wigs is moisturization!