What's the difference? How do we know what's helping and what is actually hurting?
Ok, so imagine you have the perfect fitting tee shirt. The fabric is perfect, it’s soft to the touch and keeps it’s shape every time you wear it. You love it so much, you wish you could wear it every day, since it’s so flattering and comfortable.
Now say you’re going through a stressful move, so you carefully fold up your favorite shirt, and package it up with other clothes you love so that you can unpack and wear that perfect tee once your move is finished. You’d never ever take your perfect shirt, ball it up into a box filled with scouring pads and leave it on your uncovered porch to be unpacked at a later date when you’re feeling like you’ve got spare time...right?
Now pretend this perfect tee is your head of textured hair. We’re constantly bombarded with media and advertising that talks about “protective” styling and the benefits of putting your hair away for extended periods of time. As a stylist who works exclusively with natural hair, let me share with you what I’ve learned from looking at hundreds of heads of hair over the course of years.
Most “protective” styles are doing far more damage than you realize.
Your hair that lives under the artificial hair absolutely needs to be cared for in order to flourish in the long term. Styles that feed in artificial hair are often left in for weeks or months, far longer than the fabric of your hair can support it. This can lead to breakage, excess shedding, and in severe situations alopecia.
So, I challenge you to ask yourself one question first before pursuing a protective style. Am I doing this to protect my hair, or to avoid doing my hair? If you’re looking to avoid doing your hair regularly, then I’d strongly caution you before taking the step of putting your hair away for an extended time.
I get messages all the time from people with textured hair asking my opinion about best practices for getting their hair braided or weaved. I always reply with the same four questions:
Have you found a professional stylist who is willing to braid your hair in a low impact way using products that are safe for your hair?
Are you planning to wear the style for a limited amount of time (no longer than 3 weeks)
Are you prepared to care for your hair while it’s styled away? This means cleansing and conditioning your hair and scalp.
Are you familiar with where your braider’s hair comes from, and are you personally ok with the impact that hair harvesting has on those who worked to provide it?
If you’ve answered yes to all of the four questions above, then I say go for it. I have clients who choose to wear their hair in styles other than wash-and-go’s and as long as they are making an informed decision I say do whatever makes you happy and keeps you feeling healthy.
The Curl Consultant