Long term protective styles are vital for hair growth. If your hair is in a protective style for a substantial length of time it means that your tresses are not falling victim to breakage by snagging, combing or brushing etc. Your ends are tucked away nicely and you experience 100% growth, 0% breakage and therefore RETENTION. Having your hair in a protective style also means that you need to care for your hair and scalp a little differently to if your hair was loose or being styled, dare I say, daily. I shudder at the thought.
The tips I share next include pre installation, during the protective style and the take down.
Before you install your protective style it is important that your start of with clean hair and scalp. Use a good shampoo and a good conditioner to get the best start possible, keep the bacteria at bay and promote a healthy scalp.
During conditioning it’s a good time to do some brief detangling. Following this make sure a more thorough detangle is done (I find it manageable to detangle section by section). If your hair is detangled well before the protective style is installed, you will be so much better off when you undo the style. It will save you time in the long run and will help you avoid breakage due to knots. Or rather an impatient you dealing with them.
Something to consider when choosing a style is, if you are adding extensions etc, how heavy will the hair be? Will it weigh down my hair causing tension and keep me up at night because there’s so much of it? Do what you are comfortable with, especially since you don’t want to end up taking the style out after a week because you can’t take it anymore.
During installation, whether you are doing it yourself or its being done for you, monitor how tight it is. There should be no sensation of tightness or pulling, not even when you raise your eyebrows. I know you want it neat, but I’m also sure you don’t want scalp issues or thinning. Find a balance.
Ends ends ends, the spearheads of length retention. In other words, they matter a whole lot. Lets put this into perspective. If the ends of your hair break off as fast as your hair grows, there will be no increase on the length of your hair even though it’s growing! Quite simple really, but often a fact that’s overlooked. When the ends of your hair are exposed to wind and cold, or even hot weather it causes them to become dry, brittle and therefore prone to breakage. Its almost inevitable once you start manually handling it. So when installing the protective style make a point of making sure the ends of your hair are well moisturised and well tucked in. No fly away ends. Tuck them into the braid or whatever the case may be. If plaiting your own hair, I would recommend twisting the ends of your hair instead of following the plait all the way down as these can easily become knots, especially when attempting to undo your hair.
During the Protective Style
It’s important to keep your scalp clean during this time. At any time for that matter! So I would suggest continuing to wash your hair, especially your scalp every 2 weeks. However, you need to adopt a fingertip massage on your scalp and avoid rubbing your hair as it will get messy quickly. You want the style to last.
Want fast growth? Spray your scalp with water and massage it every 3 days. BUT you have to deal with those raising roots. Though I’m sure that’s what you really want to see right? Growth!
Top up the moisture in your hair by drizzling a light oil on your hair every week. Olive oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, whatever you fancy. I wouldn’t advise heavy oils like castor oil in any of its forms as it tends to be quite viscous (less runny).
The Take Down
First of all, you don’t want each protective style to be everlasting, its just not hygienic. Even with washing your hair every 2 weeks, there’s some places that won’t be reached quite effectively if your hair isn’t loose. So use your discretion here.
Now the practicality of the take down. When it comes to the ends of your hair, it’s a good idea to use some oil on your fingers and BE GENTLE. Remember those ends are vital to actually seeing the growth. Do whatever you can to avoid ripping them off!
Give your hair a good wash. Some places in your hair will need this, but if you’ve been keeping up with the washing every 2 weeks, it really should be a breeze.
Get in with a good detangling session. I recommend a brief detangle whilst your hair is being conditioned and then follow it up with a proper detangling after stepping out of the shower. If you detangled well before installing, your laughing at this point.
And finally, deep condition or protein treat as necessary. Before you wash your hair, assess how your hair feels. If you’ve set and maintained the moisture well, it might not even be necessary, but give you hair a good feel. If it seems brittle or weak, protein treat. I recommend Aphogee 2 minute reconstructor. If it feels especially dry, deep condition
Done! May your hair swish around your waist. #rapunzelinthemaking.