So I’ve already stated that I wouldn’t reach my extreme goal of 6 inches in 6 months because of the normal set backs that we all face when trying to gain and retain length during our hair journeys. I’ve faced difficulties with some breakage at the nape, some dryness and retaining moisture, as well as some damaged/split ends. So I’ve trimmed a bit off for the purposes of maintaining healthy hair over “long” hair. So I’m still in the challenge with you of growing healthy hair and will continue to give you tips as I try them out!! We’re currently at week 14… which is crazy because week one feels like yesterday. If you missed the other weeks’ tips I’ve linked directly to them below to catch up if you are now following along.

This week we’re going to tackle protective styling. Protective styling isn’t a new idea or tip to the natural hair community and to be honest I was avoiding talking about this for a very long time for a few reasons. I feel like we are definitely over saturated with info on protective styling yet still fall into the habits of doing it incorrectly. Also I’m not up for the over use of protective styling. I never leave my protective styles in for more than 8 weeks no matter how fresh they look at that time. I worry about the hair underneath and do not want to have damage done when removed.

However protective styling can be a God send if done correctly. It’ll do just that… protect your hair instead of causing further damage. Protective styling is used to give your hair “a break” from the harsh elements and constant styling we put our hair through on a daily basis. It is also used to help transitioners when dealing with the two separate textures on their hair. The go to styles are usually sew in weaves, braids, twists…etc. But the true nature of protective styling is anything that protects the ends of your hair. So in that case buns, two strand twists…etc are also protective styles that are often overlooked as such.

Here are a few tips to protective styling (for the millionth time I’m sure)
1. Make sure you are taking care of the hair underneath: You can not just throw in a protective style and forget about your actual hair. I co wash my hair weekly no matter what I have in. I also make sure my scalp is always clean and moisturized to the best of my ability depending on the protective style of choice.

2. Never leave a protective style in for longer then 8 weeks. I’m sure we all remember the moldy weave incident and we dont want that to happen. The whole point is to nurture your hair while it rests so that you will have some length gain and retention. It makes no sense to lose inches of hair when taking down protective styles. Defeats the purpose of all that protection

3. Trim your ends: I tend to trim post protective style removal but trimming before can be just as beneficial. You dont want the ends to split up the shaft before or during take down therefore taking care of nurturing your ends is necessary to length retention in a protective style.

4. Know your hair: Don’t put in a protective style if your hair is severely damaged. I was facing some serious nape damage a few months ago and refused to put any form of protective style in my hair because it would just cause more damage. It is best to nurture your hair and take care of it before putting in braids or a weave because you will be disappointed and horribly surprised when you remove it.

5. Take breaks: Do not just throw in one protective style after the other. Give yourself and your hair some time to breath and bond. You need to learn your hair anyway therefore constantly hiding it under a protective style isn’t healthy and will cause fine damaged hair in the long run.

What I currently have in is the lesser of most of the evils that can come along with protective styling. I have in crochet braids which doesn’t require much tension because nothing is being sewed in, or pulled too tightly as can occur with weaves, braids and twists. You do still have to be cautious when getting these installed because your hair must be braided below and you dont want the braids done too tight or too lose. I have some leave out in the front and the back incase I want to put this bad boy up into a pony tail (it is summer time and very hot!)

I have in four packs of Model Model Water Wave (synthetic hair) with leave out in the front and back that I two strand twist to help with blending. My night time routine is very very simple I just two strand twist the leave out and put the rest of the hair in a satin bonnet. Thats it and head off to bed! You have direct access to your scalp so you can handle any buildup. You have to be careful with the hair as it will tangle and it is synthetic so doesn’t afford you all the luxuries of using human hair.

The install was done by Crochet Hair NYC which you can find/follow on Instagram. Prices are reasonable/fair but you must schedule an appointment!

Previous Weeks Challenges:
Week 9 Deep Conditioning
Week 5 Low Manipulation 
Week 4: Pre Poo
Week 3 Scalp Massages
Week 1 Inversion Method