There are many benefits to protective styling for naturals. Although the definition varies from person to person the key to a protective style is protecting the hair from over-manipulation, chemical and environmental elements. Natural hair is fragile. We have tightly curly or coily hairs that wrap themselves around one another and cause tangles, snags and knots. Each bend, curl or coil along the strand creates a point of potential breakage and for many to combat breakage and incur length retention is wearing protective styles.
Reasons for Protective Styling
The first most obvious reason for a natural to try a protective style is for length retention. Many feel protective styles are perfect for growing your hair long because of the low maintenance and manipulation. You are also keeping your hair away from the elements as well as your clothing which can case friction with your hair.
HIH or ‘hands in hair syndrome’ is what naturals call someone who is constantly in their tresses whether playing with their hair or constantly touching, fixing or changing the style. That is an example of over-manipulation but other types of over-manipulation are daily styling, combing, brushing and stretched styles. No one says you cannot be up in your head but with our fragile strands the more we fool with it the more we may be looking at breakage.
Steering clear of heat or as many naturals call it, No-heat challenges are popular ways to combat breakage since heat damage (your natural hair texture does not return back after washing or wetting your strands), is irreversible and it is nothing you want. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as heat-training and if you hair is permanently straight after several uses of heat then it is heat-damaged. Protective styles can be great alternatives for naturals who use a lot of heat but want a break from it for a while.
If you have baby fine hair that is prone to breakage even handled with great care or if you live in an extremely cold, hot, windy or polluted environment are also reasons for considering a protective style. Newly naturals who are transitioning and uncomfortable working with two vastly different textures may opt for one and even naturals who BC but are not happy with short hair may choose to use one with added hair. Ultimately there are numerous reasons why someone would want to try a protective style.