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?