Protective styling is a practice in which you wear your hair in style that helps protect and minimize stress on the hair from styling, the elements and detangling. Common protective styles include 2-strand twists, braids, or wearing a wig/weave. Wearing a protective style does not make your hair grow, but doing so has been known to help retain length by reducing breakage, single-strand knots and mechanical/heat damage.
So whats the problem? The issue is that you still need to take care of your hair while it is in a protective style. That means maintaining moisture to the hair and scalp, keeping the scalp clean, and avoiding further damage from tension or rubbing. No matter which protective styling method you use make sure you have access to your scalp. To moisturize your scalp use a braid spray, spritz moisturizer, or create your own DIY mix. As for cleansing the scalp that can be a little tricky as some styles to not lend to getting the whole head wet. You can use a washcloth with a soapy mix to scrub the scalp or put a little witch hazel on a cotton ball. If you have added great length to your locs you may want to use a net to keep them in place.
The ninja bun was one of my favorite hairstyle when I was rocking waist length yarn locs. They helped keep my long hair up and out of the way when doing everyday things like brushing my teeth, lounging on the couch or washing dishes. Here are a few other things I had to get used to when wearing longer hair: make sure all your hair is in the car before closing the door, pull your hair forward in front of your shoulders before using the restroom, make sure you are not laying on your hair before jerking your head in the opposite direction, and make sure you tie back your hair before eating.
The most inevitable downside to protective styling is that you will miss your curls. For most curlies it takes about 7-10 days before the excitement of a new protective style wears off and you actually miss the care and upkeep of your own curls. The longest I can keep a protective style in is about 4 weeks, as my hair needs a good thorough cleansing and soaking in the shower that can only come with loose natural hair.
So what are your thoughts? What are your tips for surviving protective styling?