I keep hearing the term, “Protective style,” amongst naturals. Coincidentally, it’s always the ones with hair weaves who claim they are protective styling. Perhaps with all the bad publicity that Black women used to receive over wearing hair weaves, this is what I’ll call the “feel better” term. But, it is what it is. Just say, I have a sew-in, or I’m wearing a wig, or these are Marley twists, or whatever, but don’t confuse the new “natural” with the fancy terms.
That said, what can you do to protect your natural hair and why would you do it? You can protect your hair with virtually any style that protects the ends of your hair and prevents frequent manipulation of the hair. That said, your typical wash and go would not be a style considered to protect the hair because the ends are left exposed. Also, a wash and go would require one to manipulate the hair more often than not. Styles such as buns, twists, braids, weaves, and even wigs are much better options to protect the ends and keep one from manipulating the hair more than necessary. See how the natural hair is protected with some of the styles seen below.
While I never say, “I’m going to wear a protective style,” I do say,” I’m going to get a sew-in so I don’t have to do my hair as much for a particular length of time. Or, I’m going to twist my hair.” It’s easier to say and the average person knows what you mean. Most recently, I’ve been wearing a sew-in because I was swimming 3-4 days per week over the spring and summer. I decided to protect my natural hair because the chlorine was so harsh on my hair. It often felt dry and hard immediately after a good swim. Sometimes, the shampoo wouldn’t even lather. It was horrible! I had to use nearly 1/2 bottle of conditioner on my hair to soften it back up. If you’ve been in the natural hair game for a while, you know a good conditioner doesn’t come cheap!! While I did wear a swimming cap, I was swimming real, continual laps, and alternating strokes. Needless to say, the water does not and did not respect the cap! My hair was a mess. I don’t do braids – it’s not my thing at all, so someone suggested a sew-in and that’s the road I took.
Why would you opt to wear your hair in a style that protects your hair? Keeping the hair up may reduce breakage and help you retain length. You would still have to take it down at regular intervals to shampoo it and condition it properly, but less manipulation per day means there’s less chance of breakage overall.
So there you have it. If you want to get braids, get braids. If you want to wear a hair weave or a wig, then just get it. If you just want to change your style without affecting your real hair, that’s fine too. But we need not term it, “protective styling” to confuse the general population. After all, when you were little, your mother didn’t call you to say, come here and let me protective style your hair. She simply put your hair in ponytails or french braids and called it “doing your hair.”