Winter is now in full swing, which means it’s time to suit your hair up with some protective styling armour for the chilly season, if you haven’t already! Protective styling is used as a means to shield the hair and scalp from exposure to harsh external factors, such as extreme cold, and to halt unnecessary manipulation that could lead to potential breakage.
When preparing to “put your hair away” for the winter, it’s important to ensure that your hair and scalp have been properly washed, conditioned, and treated, to keep the hair in a strong healthy state before styling, as such styles are meant to be kept for a prolonged period of time- anywhere from 3 to 9 weeks, depending on your individual preference and level of maintenance. To learn more about proper winter hair maintenance, click here.
Hair Armour: Protective Hairstyles
There are a number of different protective styling options that can be used to help preserve your hair during the winter season, including, but not limited to: box braids, goddess locs, faux locs, twists, crochet braids, wigs, and simply wearing a head wrap.
Box braids: Extension braids made by incorporating either synthetic or human hair into sections of your own hair, and usually braided down your back. (Be mindful not to get these installed too tight or too small, as they can cause serious breakage along the hair line- preserve your edges!)
Extension twists: Extension hair twisted into sections of your hair, to create Senegalese, Marley, and Havana twists, depending on the texture of hair that is used. This is a relatively safe and beautiful style- even for those with fine hair– as long as the base of the twists are not done too small or too tight, and the extension hair is not too heavy.
Goddess Locs & Faux Locs: Hair is box-braided or twisted, and then wrapped with Kanekalon, Marley twist, or any other type of kinky extension hair. (Note: Goddess locs have a loose curl at the bottom of each loc; faux locs do not.) For these options, try to pick a brand of extension hair that is relatively light in weight, as the loss can become heavy depending on their size and length. Also, make sure that your sections are parted large enough to support the weight of the extensions.
Crochet Braids: One of the most versatile and time-efficient protective styles. Hair is cornrowed to act as a base for the extension hair that is then crocheted through the cornrows using a latch hook. This styling method is also one of the safest- just be sure to let your stylist know if you feel any pulling from your scalp, even if it’s slight. You can choose any type of extension hair to be crocheted into the cornrows.
Wigs: Wigs are a great way to quickly put away your hair- throw one on, and you’re done! Choose a wig that fits properly though: make sure that the wig doesn’t rest directly on top of your edges, because there is a chance that the constant friction of the wig against your hairline and potential movement could cause thinning (again, preserve your edges!)
Head wrap: Self explanatory: find a nice piece of fabric that doesn’t snag easily on your hair (for example, silk); wrap your hair up in a way that makes you feel fabulous, and go about your day! Avoid tying the wrap too tight– no need for a headache or damaging your hairline- and make sure that all your hair is tucked underneath the wrap; otherwise, it’s no longer protective! For more on head wraps, click here.
Now you can put your hair away and let it take a rest! And what’s great is that all of the styles mentioned above are pretty low maintenance: once installed, all you need to do is to tie them down at night, and you’ll be looking fly for the weeks to come!
Protective Style Tips
Once you’ve started wearing a protective style, it can be easy to completely forget about your scalp while your hair is on vacation! But here’s the secret, and it’s really simple: every now and then, spritz your protective style with some water or a protective style refresher (London Ivy Products and Up North Naturals both have great ones!); and no more than 3 times a week, just rub a little oil in-between the parts of your style (and by “oil”, we’re talking about the good stuff- the ones that can be consumed- 100% oils with no additives). The use of a good oil, in conjunction with some water, will help keep your scalp healthy throughout the lifespan of your protective style.
Finally, to clean your scalp, mix some shampoo with some water in a spray or applicator bottle. Apply the mixture directly to the scalp; massage with your finger tips; and rinse.
When it’s time for you to take down your protective style, do so with care, so you don’t cause unnecessary damage during the take down process. Return to your normal hair care routine, and then give your hair- and your scalp, especially- some time to rest before jumping back into another protective style.
Have you tried any of the protective styles above? Let us know which one is your go-to in the comments!