By Jc of The Natural Haven
Inquiring minds ask, do you really need to protective style to grow long hair? The scientific answer lies in what protective styling can do for you. It is intended to help retain length by reducing or eliminating manipulation of hair and therefore stopping breakage and damage to hair that has grown.
The primary reason why natural hair of African origin breaks is due to manipulation (i.e combing during the detangling process). However there is a great variation in the curl, kink, thickness and behaviour of hair.
Here are two lists to help you decide whether protective styling may be of benefit to you.
Protective styling will benefit you if;
Your hair is at least 6 inches in length
Your hair tangles up when left free for a short time (1-2 days) and/or your hair takes a long time to detangle
Your hair easily forms single strand or complex knots (you spot 10 or more during a detangling session)
The main form of breakage that you see is in short segments (less than a quarter inch) that indicate that the ends of your hair are breaking off
You have shrinkage and very little hang (where 6 inches will shrink to 2 inches fully wet or where armpit length hair appears to be neck length fully wet); the more hair shrinks, the more hair gets intertwinned and the higher the chances of tangling and knotting which lead to breakage
Protective styling might not help as much if;
Your hair is less than six inches in length (shorter hair requires less protection)
Your strands are thick and do not break easily when combed
Your hair does not easily form tangles and/or detangling is relatively easy
Your hair does not easily form single strand knots and does not have complex knots (where 3 or more strands intertwine into a knot)
Hair does not tend to break and hair loss is predominantly just shed hair with a visible bulb
Hair that has low shrinkage or hair that has a tendency to naturally form individual regular corkscrew spirals of clumped strands from root to tip (when conditioner and/or gel is applied).
Ladies, what category does your hair fall in? Do you need protective styling to retain length or no?
Click for part 1 of this series: Protective Styling Do’s and Dont’s