Are Buns An Effective Protective Style?

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Melissa writes;

I’ve heard that buns are an effective protective style but my personal experience with bunning has produced mixed results. I typically just fold my loose hair over and secure it with a hair tie. At night I take the hair tie out and twist the hair up. In the morning I unloose the twists, and fold the loose hair over again. I tried this for about 3 months and noticed that I did retain length — but a lot more slowly than I expected. Why is that?

BGLH replies:

The effectiveness of the loose hair “fold over” bun depends on the strength of your ends. For naturals with stronger hair, it’s a simple way to get ends tucked in. But for naturals with more fragile hair there are several red flags. First, the hair tie can put a strain on your ends and lead to cuticle snapping and breakage. Second, folding over all that loose hair can even cause knotting if your curls get tangled. Third, depending on the length of your hair, the fold over bun can require a bit of stretching. Stretching the strands too far can dry them out, leading again to dryness and breakage. And finally, buns can be hard on your edges if you slick and pull too tight.

You also always have to be mindful of the tools you use for bunning. Check out this handy do’s and dont’s list from the K.I.S.S. blog;


Wear Tight Ponytails
Use Metal Accessories
Use Rubber Bands
Use Elastics with metal
Use Hairs Clip and Barrettes that can snag hair
Do buns and ponytails with wet hair…Hair is weakest when wet ( I wait till my hair is at least damp before bunning)

Loose Buns or Messy Buns (alway cute)
Elastic Bands with No Metal
Good Day Hair Pins (Sold at Sally’s )
Use 100% Aloe Vera Gel (For Sun Burns) instead of Hair Gel
If you know your hair is weak ….I would stick with banana clips or french rolls until hair gets stronger..

If your hair is too short for a loose bun, try twisting your hair first and then putting it into a bun. The twists will provide protection for your ends as it sits in the bun. Also, stop twisting every night. It’s a strategy that works for some naturals, but it sounds like your hair is too fragile to deal with the constant manipulation.

Ladies, what has your experience been with bunning? Do you bun as a protective style? Why or why not?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...


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32 thoughts on “Are Buns An Effective Protective Style?

  1. Hey there! I’ve been following your weblog for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good work!

  2. I have been experiencing excessive midshaft splitting, stressed hairs and breakage. The only thing I can conclude is that my hair is too fine even for daily loose buns, and I did nothing on the don’ts list. I don’t know for sure yet because I finally just made the decision today to experiment with leaving my hair loose or in a low pony with a silk scrunchie to see if the problem stops. It could be that something else initiated the breakage but that any sort of protective styling is probably just making it worse.There is indeed another way to protect your ends. Micro trimming. Ppl say you should only trim when necessary but if you do that you risk having to cut in the long run. Not everyone can prevent split ends. I’m going to micro trim my hair and keep it moisturized. I also threw away combs and brushes. Hopefully now the breakage will stop.

    • I had this problem! :(( Super frustrating. My New Years resolution was to figure out what was going on with my hair. I trimmed on a regular, I did the Loc method, I was gentle with my hair…and I still kept getting mid shaft splits.

      It has been 6months for trial and error but I finally have it figured out for my hair. I first realized that I had low porosity hair. Although I would put water and oil on my hair it never absorbed…meaning my hair was always dry and greasy. I also realized my hair was protein sensitive.. but I still needed something to strengthen it. So I started doing henna glosses every 6 weeks. Henna binds to the hair to strengthen it.

      I have done tons of research on low porosity hair and how to moisture it that combined with henna has changed my hair! I hardly ever see mid shaft splits anymore. I almost gave up on being natural but I am glad I didn’t. I did turn into a product junkie for a while but now that I have found some stuff that works I am sticking to it.

      Also, I started using Terressentials Mud Wash. It made my hair hard at first but now my hair is the softest its ever been and very strong. HTH!

      • Thank you! Actually, since I posted this I have let my hair loose and am doing the LOC Method and my hair seems to like it. But there are other things I have done too, the breakage has literally stopped. I mean, as Cipriana says, expect less than perfect hair. My hair will probably never be perfect, but it is getting stronger and stronger. On my blog post I shared some things I have found that have really helped me with breakage. I also have been vlogging my experience with loc so far on my youtube channel (I am a newbie). The breakage thing is a scary ride but it’s great that we have both found our way out of it. I personally prefer not to go back to protective styling at all, even if some day my hair becomes more elastic with my new diet and supplements (I put this diet together by research and will be publishing it on my blog soon, but bear in mind my blog server is crappy right now and so some posts are way behind). Also I am breastfeeding which that probably effects the elasticity and resilience of my hair.

        Apart from all the breakage I experienced from confining my hair in some of the loosest styles, braiding my hair did exactly as described above, it stretched my ends to the point of breaking open, left my ends dry as well. Finally, I find protective styling to be an emotional confinement for me. I have never had relaxed or excessively flat ironed hair, I just wanted to be able to wear my curls down some day without feeling insecure, and that is what my journey has been about. My hair is long and has no problem growing at a very rapid speed. I have tail bone length and was previously hip length. I do want it to grow longer but I am extremely skeptical that ps is necessary for that.

        The loc method works to keep my hair from breaking as does regular dc. Oh and another secret I have is catnip tea. I did a video on that as well. But if you have low po hair you need to warm it up as I do. Also no one should mix catnip with other products. Clarify your hair, then do the catnip, then you can rinse it out and use other conditioners or what have you. Some ppl use just catnip on their hair but I do not get how that plays out on natural curls, my hair needs humectants it would get too dry.

  3. My hair actually likes loose buns my hair is medium shoulder length when stretched and Bob length with shrinkage . I put it in two buns and I love it. It’s not big yet but I’ll get there. I have only been a year natural . I tried protective styling with wigs weaves protective styling and my hair broke off and I had who of dandruff . Then I left I alone and just washed conditioned moisturized it and my hair grew alot from one less than one inch of hair from my big chop to medium length . The only protective styles that work for me is updos cornrows and two braids pinned up but my favorite is loose buns low manipulation style and my hair grows alot from that too .

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