Is your protective style a crutch?
The temperature has dropped! It’s now time for winter coats, hats scarves and gloves. It’s that time of the year where we bring out our protective styles in full force. In order to protect our hair from the elements and just for ease during the colder months, protective styling can be a great tool when promoting healthy hair care. However, we can if we are not careful, fall into the trap of using our protective styles as a crutch.
What do i mean by the term ‘crutch’?
By this, i mean that we can become so comfortable in using protective styles that we forget what its main purpose is: as a temporary protection of our hair. The Protective style is not our hair! We still need to care, nurture and love the hair underneath the style. If we wear our protective styles all the time we run the risk of neglecting our hair underneath. Protective styles are easier to style and we can start to see taking care of our hair as difficult and too time consuming. This can have long-term implications for the health of our hair but also our perception of our hair. Trust, the temptation is real for me to fall into this trap as well.
So what to do about it?
I would say, the best way to ensure you don’t fall into this trap is to scatter your use of protective styles. Even, if you do a month with or a month without. I know during winter that people want to tuck their ends away and make sure it is protected but there are other ways to do this. This is definitely a positive because it gives you different opportunities to learn how to retain moisture and length in styles just using your own hair.So, for a month I had my hair in box braids, if you would like a how-to on your own hair let me know. Once I took it out I haven’t installed another protective style with additional hair for the time being. I may do another one Christmas time. This way I’m letting my hair breathe, i’m caring for my hair with regular treatments and loving my hair as it is. I know people always advise to wash and treat your hair in protective styles the same way you would your hair. But, I’m going to be the first person to put my hand up and say I don’t. I spritz to moisturise and do this regularly but I do not cleanse when I keep my long-term protective style in. This is why it is important for me to scatter my protective styles, because when it is not in a protective style i care for it much better.
One style I love to use in the winter is a two strand twist. It only lasts about a week so I have to take it out, wash, steam and treat every week. This is one way I’m trying to not become too attached to my protective style because I need to take it down to care for my hair. Protective styles do not always have to have additional hair. Box braids, Marley twists, crochet braids, wigs and weaves are great protective styles for a longer period but there also loads of short-term protective styles. Two strand twist, buns, cornrows (2 or 4) are styles I use regularly. These last for a week or less, still reduce daily detangling and styling to a week so there is less chance of breakage or damage.
Hats and scarves are another way to protect your hair during the winter months without relying solely on long-term protective styles. I need to buy some hats and improve my head wrap game this winter. Maybe that could be a challenge for me. Be able to comfortably achieve 3 different head wrap styles by spring. I’ll let you know how it goes.
But, have a go yourself. Set yourself a challenge. Is it, to do one month on, one month off with your long-term protective style? Is it to do short-term protective styles? Is it to improve your ability to wrap scarves like me? Is it to make your own wig? Whatever, it is set yourself a challenge this winter to make sure your protective style does not become a crutch. I know I’m always calling protective styles your best friend. And it can be, when it is used for its correct purpose. Protective styling should never replace caring and loving your own hair.
Remember Love your hair, Love yourself.x