On the hair-typ­ing chart, my hair would be con­sid­ered type 4. It is thick, dense, and has very coarse strands. My hair also tends to be nat­u­ral­ly strong, even when I was relaxed. Up until recent­ly in my hair jour­ney, I used very min­i­mal pro­tec­tive styling. While tran­si­tion­ing, I did sev­er­al low manip­u­la­tion styles, such as braid­outs, to help blend my relaxed hair with my nat­ur­al tex­ture. How­ev­er, as time pro­gressed, I have start­ed incor­po­rat­ing pro­tec­tive styles more often into my reg­i­men.


While my hair jour­ney, until recent­ly, has not focused pri­mar­i­ly on pro­tec­tive styles for length reten­tion, I do believe that pro­tec­tive styles can be very ben­e­fi­cial for type 4 hair. Type 4 hair, even if it is coarse and nat­u­ral­ly strong, can still be dam­aged if it isn’t being cared for cor­rect­ly, or if it is being manip­u­lat­ed or han­dled too often. I do love that pro­tec­tive styles allow me to give my hair break from ME.

Some of my favorite pro­tec­tive styles are mini twists and twists with Mar­ley hair. Occa­sion­al­ly, I will also do jum­bo twists, worn in a pony­tail or bun, to help pro­tect my hair when I am not wear­ing my favorite pro­tec­tive styles. These days, I wear my hair in pro­tec­tive styles about 80% of the time. Because I wear hats for work, I have found that pro­tec­tive styles such as mini/jumbo twists or plaits allow me to eas­i­ly fit my hair into my scrub hats.


For my per­son­al hair jour­ney, I have found that pro­tec­tive styles have not sig­nif­i­cant­ly affect­ed my length reten­tion. I love let­ting my hair be free and wear­ing it out/loose, so I find myself wear­ing my hair out quite often, even while I was tran­si­tion­ing. Through­out my hair jour­ney, I have focused on wear­ing low manip­u­la­tion hair styles that I can sim­ply refresh or redo every 2–3 days (e.g. braid­outs, twist­souts, etc).


So, while I do believe that pro­tec­tive styles can be very ben­e­fi­cial, I think length reten­tion is more great­ly affect­ed by how you han­dle or care for your hair.

Ladies, can you retain length with­out pro­tec­tive styles? Why or why not?

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25 Comments on "I’m a Waist-Length 4B/4C Natural, and I Can Retain Length Without Protective Styling"

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Talk about click bait­ing! SMH


total­ly not what i expect­ed. i thought the arti­cle was about NOT using pro­tec­tive styling to retain length. did i miss some­thing?


I feel like the title of this arti­cle was click bait. There are two strikes against this arti­cle that make it mis­lead­ing — first­ly the author admit­ted­ly has strong thick strands of hair (genet­ics) and sec­ond­ly, she wears pro­tec­tive styles 80% of the time. The read­er who may have come here for sol­id advice will sure­ly feel hood­winked. A per­son with a nat­ur­al pre­dis­po­si­tion for long thick hair shouldn’t get on their soap box and preach to those who don’t have that hair type.


You can say that again…


I agree with the need for vet­ting. This can actu­al­ly be used as a mini peti­tion area.

Truth be told, I’d have had no issue at all with this mat­ter had the men­tion of the recent 80% pro­tec­tive styling been just that — a men­tion with the main focus being on HOW she main­tains her hair with­out PS. Obvi­ous way with­out using heat would be low manip­u­la­tion & it’d be more in line with the title if the con­tent and pho­tos dealt with that more.

Free Tea

I’m in the same boat. This arti­cle felt like a hum­ble brag. It’s great that she is able to wear her coarse strand­ed, kinky hair out and retain length, but how about actu­al­ly includ­ing a detailed reg­i­men for wear­ing kinky hair out with­out pro­tec­tive styling?

Death of Hallyu

Every­body can wear their hair out. The author made a huge mis­take by not empha­siz­ing mois­tur­iz­ing. With well-mois­tur­ized ends you can wear it out as much as you like.


Actu­al­ly, no, I can’t. I have the desire for my hair to reach cer­tain lengths, and that goal can’t be achieved no mat­ter how mois­tur­ized my ends are. Actu­al­ly, mois­tur­iz­ing the ends of my hair while it’s out makes the knot­ting and inevitable break­age much worse.

Not every­one can wear their hair out all of the time. If you think oth­er­wise, you prob­a­bly have a loos­er curl pat­tern, and you have no clue how longer kinky hair works.

Tori Stevens

Oh it’s most def­i­nite­ly a hum­ble brag. There’s no oth­er way to look at it. It is what it is; it’s right there in the title. How­ev­er, the title is indeed con­tra­dic­to­ry to her state­ment of wear­ing her hair on pro­tec­tive styles 80% of the time, as an ear­li­er com­menter stat­ed.

I have to ask, is any­one vet­ting these arti­cles before pub­lish­ing them? I like about 75% of the con­tent on BGLH and I love the inclu­sion of oth­er top­ics rel­e­vant to the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty, but some­one HAS to to start vet­ting these arti­cles for qual­i­ty.

Elodie Careme
Let me quote her: “Some of my favorite pro­tec­tive styles are mini twists and twists with Mar­ley hair. Occa­sion­al­ly, I will also do jum­bo twists, worn in a pony­tail or bun, to help pro­tect my hair when I am not wear­ing my favorite pro­tec­tive styles. These days, I wear my hair in pro­tec­tive styles about 80% of the time.” Well if she usu­al­ly wear twists and pro­jec­tive styles about 80% of the time…I don’t real­ly under­stand the title of the arti­cle. Please miss­es from BGLH be careful…recently you had a ten­dan­cy to use (over-use) these kind of very attrac­tive titles to draw… Read more »

Why can’t the French learn Eng­lish? I seen french, Span­ish sites and non con­sid­er the Eng­lish speak­ers.

Elodie Careme

Among my french speak­ing friends most of them speak a for­eign lan­guage (not always flu­ent­ly but still) either eng­lish, spanish,italian, german,arabic,portuguese etc. I lived in eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries and few of my eng­lish speak­ing friends speak a for­eign lan­guage as they con­sid­er with a lot of arro­gance that every­body speak their lan­guage. French are cer­tain­ly more opened to for­eign lan­gages than eng­lish speak­ers…


The per­son above should prob­a­bly work on their own Eng­lish before demand­ing oth­ers learn the lan­guage!!!

And you are right about us Eng­lish speak­ers, we are an arro­gant bunch!! Wish I knew my lan­guage, will be learn­ing French soon (not my lan­guage), as I want to go and do my work­ing hoi­day visa there in the next 18 months. Wish me luck!

Elodie Careme

Well luck then! And if you need some­one to prac­tise, con­tact me :-)


Yeah…you have some great sug­ges­tions. And I know I come here for black hair tips, so I don’t want to see social issues here (hope­ful­ly they con­sid­er their audi­ence before mak­ing huge changes to their web­site). Id pre­fer they send the social issues to anoth­er blog, and those who are inter­est­ed may go.


I thought it was just me! The con­tent on this blog has real­ly fall­en off and it seems to have lost focus. I thought it was about black women’s nat­ur­al hair but late­ly there are arti­cles on a vari­ety of black issues. Not that that’s a bad thing–but it’s not the focus of this blog. Per­haps you (own­ers) should con­sid­er an off­shoot of the blog that deals with oth­er social issues so as not to con­fuse read­ers.

Lilian Grae

You know what else pre­dicts length reten­tion… genet­ics. Done.

Death of Hallyu

How on earth would genet­ics pre­vent the ends of your hair from split­ting and break­ing off? Please don’t spread such mis­in­for­ma­tion.


Bc genet­ics deter­mine the col­la­gen make­up and strength of pro­tein bonds in your hair. Notice many Indi­an women who don’t do any­thing spe­cial to their hair can cut it short in June and have it to their butt by the time fall rolls around. Genet­ics has a lot to do with hair dura­bil­i­ty- more than any hair prod­uct or styling tech­nique.


First of all, NOBODY’S hair grows from short to butt-length between June & fall…that’s impos­si­ble, I don’t care how “good” one’s genet­ics are. Sec­ond­ly, genet­ics vary on an indi­vid­ual level–not a racial one. Some people’s hair grows crazy fast, oth­ers ridicu­lous­ly slow–and it could be bone-straight or 4z, it don’t mat­ter. So let’s not start on the whole “oth­er races’ hair grows faster thing” (which is what your post implies), because that notion’s been proven false time after time.

Or don’t take hair length per­son­al­ly or buy into the idea that phys­i­cal attrac­tive­ness is depen­dent on hair length? I’ve seen it with my own eyes. There are peo­ple who can grow hair that quick­ly and I saw a lot of girls grow­ing up cut their hair in June and have long hair at the Home­com­ing dance in the fall. I’m always floored by the idea of “cut­ting my hair short for the sum­mer” b/c for me that’s basi­cal­ly a 2–3 year com­mit­ment to short hair.  Just as there are dif­fer­ent genet­ics for body build, there are genet­ics for hair. I… Read more »

Because the stronger some­thing is the less like­ly it is to break that is com­mon sense


I can’t because I have fine strands. Even fre­quent twist outs are a no-no for me so when my hair isn’t in a pro­tec­tive style I just wash and go. I have less break­age now and my hair is at its longest. I won’t lie; I wish my strands are course.

Ugonna Wosu

She didn’t give enough info. Usu­al­ly, women who retain with­out pro­tec­tive styling are fre­quent cow­ash­ers. She did men­tion low manip­u­la­tion styles, which helps, and she some­times pro­tec­tive styles.


Have to agree there. Felt like a bit of a non-arti­cle. Where’s the help­ful info?