Hey hey, Naturalistas!
So, let’s talk protective styling. If you aren’t familiar with protective styling, it’s any hairstyle that shields the hair from harmful elements such as extreme weather, heat, and stress on the hair strands caused by daily styling and manipulation. Sometimes it’s just necessary to give your hair a break! Protective styles allow you to give your hair a break and tuck your hair away for an extended amount of time. It reduces and/or eliminates the need to comb, brush, pull, tug, and apply heat to your hair, which in turn minimizes the amount of damage to your hair, and allows your hair to grow freely without any added stress.
Buns, twists, braids, and sew-in weaves (when done properly), are just a few examples of protective styles. Although some of these styles are made to last for months at a time (braids) while others may last just one day (buns), they all aid in protecting your hair from harmful elements we encounter on a regular basis and minimize or eliminate the need to manipulate the hair. Low to no manipulation, protection and proper upkeep results in hair growth and length retention.
I’ll say that protective styling may not be for everyone. Plenty of ladies’ hair flourish without the use of protective styling. However, if you have type 4 hair (kinky, curly, coily, highly textured hair) then you can most likely benefit from protective styling. Plenty of ladies (relaxed and natural) have achieved their hair length goals of mid-back length to waist length hair by protective styling. Does protective styling make your hair grow at a faster rate than it normally would? No. It simply helps you retain the growth that you normally get. While many ladies think that their hair is not growing, they fail to realize that their hair is growing but breaking off at the same rate it is growing, which will give the illusion that your their hair is not growing. So, protective styling is very beneficial.
Since I’ve gone natural I’ve come to the conclusion that I must incorporate protective styling into my hair regimen. I’ve been natural for 1 1/2 years now and I’ve learned two interesting things about my hair…
- My ends DO NOT like to be exposed; they’d rather be tucked away. I LOVE my curly afro, but my ends really suffer when I wear this style. I don’t neglect my ends; I moisturize and seal them regularly, but I also tend to pull, fluff and tug on them a little to stretch my hair out and form my afro. I’m noticing that this is taking a toll on my ends. They tend to be rough and frizzy. So, I find myself trimming my ends more often than I’d like to to rid of the damage. This is making it hard for me to retain my hair growth.
- My hair thrives when it’s in a protective style. I’ve been unknowingly protective styling my entire life. I’ve worn plaits, cornrows, extensions, braids and twists my entire life. My hair always grew and was in good shape when I wore these styles. But, I’d follow up by frying my hair with flat-irons and curlers (I used to love to hear the crackling sound from the curlers because I just knew it was working magic on my hair…nuts, right?!), and over process my hair with unnecessary relaxing because I just didn’t know any better back then.
It’s time to get back to the basics and revisit protective styling. Although, I do protective style 1-2 times a year, my hair is telling me that I need to do it more often. I’m officially starting my own protective style challenge for myself. From this point forward I plan to install a protective style and maintain it for 1-2 months at a time, wear my hair out for a month, and re-install a protective style. So, for the next year my hair will be in protective styles a lot if I stick to my personal challenge. I’m aiming for mid-back length hair. I’m hoping that this protective style challenge helps me retain my growth, improve the overall health of my hair and help me reach my hair length goal.
So, my first protective style for this challenge is….MARLEY TWISTS!!
I’ve rocked kinky twists and senegalese twists and I love them both, but this time around I decided to try something different. Marley twists are very similar to kinky twists, except they are longer and bigger. They are also done with the kinky textured marley hair.
I had the opportunity to let the beautiful and talented Ms. Susy work her magic on my tresses. If you aren’t family with Susy a.k.a AfricanCreature then you need to get with it. She is an extremely talented hairstylist based in New York City. Susy has worked with NYFW, Actress Lydia Forson, Musician Solange Knowles, Red Model Management, Boss Model, Request Models, F2FAfrica Magazine just to name a few. She is currently on a hair tour and I was ecstatic when I found out that she would be in Baltimore for a week. I didn’t waste any time making an appointment with Susy.
Let me just say this, I’ve been getting my hair braided/twisted since I was a kid and this had to be my best experience ever. I was greeted with a huge smile and cozy hug. That definitely settled my nerves, as I was a little nervous about my first braiding/twisting experience with Susy. She was a doll; warm, kind, and eager to know exactly what kind of style I was looking for. I showed her a picture of the small, long marley twists that I wanted and she and her assistant went to work. As she began twisting my extensions, I noticed how gentle she was with my hair. There was no crazy tight, tugging, pulling or discomfort during the installation. This IMMEDIATELY made me LOVE her. I’m all about protecting and preserving my edges and nape area. She used 13 packs of marley hair and the it took about 5 1/2 hours. I was very pleased with the results.
I can’t close out this post without acknowledging how genuine Susy was (her assistant was amazing too!). We immediately connected and I felt like I had found my long-lost girlfriend. Lol. She has such a beautiful, unique spirit and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet her. She is officially my go to stylist when it comes to braids/twists, etc..
Check out her HOT website, www.hairbysusy.com, where you can find her services, prices, etc. As I mentioned previously, she is currently on her hair tour and may possibly be stopping in your city very soon. You can even vote for your city on her website. The cities with the most votes will most likely be her next stops. Check her out Ladies!!
I plan to keep my marley twists for 1-2 months. Stay tuned for my next post detailing my daily regimen, upkeep and thoughts of this protective style. I’m looking forward to the protective styling journey! 🙂
What are your thoughts on protective styling? What has your experience been like and has it helped you reach your hair goals? Please share!