Protecting our natural hair is such a huge topic in the natural hair community. So huge that a whole category of styling, protective styling (braids, wigs, weaves and crotchets), has become the poster child for protection. However, while protecting the hair is super important, the way that the natural hair community has gone about it is the absolute opposite of how we should all be doing so.
The conversations around protecting our natural hair neglects one huge aspect of what actually takes to protect our hair…and that’s caring for it!
“Protective styling” should involve 3 major aspects:
The cleanse step is what you’ll be doing every wash day to remove the majority of the products, sweat, and debris from your hair. An all purpose, moisturizing, or co-wash will be your product of choice depending on how long you have gone between cleansing sessions and how dirty your hair is. More frequent cleansing of less dirty hair can use a less cleansing cleanser. Less frequent cleaning, use of heavy product, or more dirty hair can use a stronger cleanser. You can do one or two shampoos depending on personal preference.
Once all of the shampoo or cleansing conditioner has been rinsed from the hair, leave all the water in the hair (do not dap or pat dry!) and immediately apply your conditioner. Depending on the formula of the conditioner and the density of your hair, one to three golf ball size applications of product will likely be enough.
A style can be an afro, hydrate & define (aka wash and go), twists, twist out, updo. Anything or nothing. We are style agnostic, though as individuals both of us prefer the ease of a Hydrate & Define for our busy lives. It’s important to choose your styling technique based on the elements of your hair. Low density and/or fine hair tends to appear fuller with expanding styles like Hydrate & Defines, rod/roller sets, and twist/braid outs done on stretched hair. High density and/ or coarse hair can reduce volume with condensing styles like twist/ braids set on wet hair, Hydrate & Defines (depends), and wet set twisted or tuck + roll updo’s.
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