When protective styling is not helping your growth...
Hands up if any of these situations sounds kinda familiar:
Any of these scenarios ring a bell?
If they do, you've probably asked yourself this already: Does protective styling really grow hair?
Experiencing long-term failure with protective styling might make it seem like this method doesn't grow hair longer, but here's the short answer: Protective styling does work. If it isn't working for you, guess what? You're just doing it wrong.
Why so many people get protective styling wrong
The biggest mistake most people make with protective styling is that we automatically assume it's something we already know how to do. That's probably because many of us knew how to braid and twist long before the term "protective styling" was coined. When confirmation of the benefits arrived from the natural hair movement, it was easy to think, I got this.
But do we?
Not really. A lot of our habits and practices around haircare are completely off, if we're shooting for longer, stronger or thicker hair.
3 ways protective styles damage hair
Many braided and twisted styles are created in a way that neglects rather than protects and, in many cases, even damages the hair. Too many braiders still braid way too tight. We've all seen the fresh braids with the scalp pulled so taut there are little bumps of traumatised skin popping up among the rows of immaculate plaits.
Then there are the cornrows sewn so tight that they rip and scar the scalp, just to make sure the weave install on top is laid. Tension at the hairline from many protective styles can lead to traction alopecia.
And, sometimes we get so focused on keeping our protective style neat, we forego essential haircare steps just to maintain the look. This leads to damage too, even though we're not actively doing anything to harm our hair.
How SMART protective styling can help grow your hair longer
If we want to get the full benefits out of protective styling, we have to do it in a way that looks at the long term, and cares more for our hair. So how do we do that?
The simplest way is to start before you even style your hair. Check that your intended style fits SMART protective styling criteria and rule out any style that doesn't. These are the boxes a protective style has to tick if it's going to protect your hair and create the conditions for optimal growth:
DHA Hair Care Experts
Afro Hair Show 2012
Dominican Hair Alliance
Dominican Hair Republic