Because I love us for real, I’ve compiled a short list of the best ways to address protective style installation. Enjoy!
The internet is overrun with "information" about Black Hair and protective styling. The unfortunate part of this fact is that many/most bloggers, YouTubers and the like, have experience with one type of hair - THEIR OWN! This is especially concerning to me as a protective styling and natural hair expert for two reasons:
1. Y’all are wasting money and energy using ineffective products styling and caring for your hair, inevitably resulting in tears.
2. There is a significant amount of damage being done by heeding the advice of those not well-versed in the subject of natural hair care. All kinds of damage; heat damage, stunted growth, breakage. The list goes on and on!
Let's start with Sew-Ins.
ALWAYS use polyester or nylon thread, NEVER cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture, expands, and increases the likelihood of developing mold & fungus during the length of wear. Cotton also soaks up dirt & oil. Nylon is strong & tangles less easily, does not absorb moisture and makes for a more seamless installation, as cotton tends to be a bit more bulky. (A step further....use brown thread for sew-ins if your hair is dark to help avoid cutting your own hair during takedown.)
Protective Styling for thinning or damaged hair.
Many of us - naturalistas and otherwise - haven't always taken the best care of our hair. In other cases, it's genetics, age, or battling an illness that causes mild to excessive hair thinning. If you suffer from thinning hair, choosing a knowledgeable stylist is especially important because you may be at risk of going bald...permanently! No shade. We need to be real about this. It’s all fun and games until you’re a meme. Here are a few ways to help be sure you’re making the right decision.
1. Your local African braid shop is NOT the place to go for hair care. I’ll leave it at that because I don’t talk about my family in mixed company.
2. Opt for twists instead of braids as they don’t exert the same level of tension and thus, less risk for breakage. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOUR HAIR IS GUARANTEED TO BREAK WITH BRAIDS! It means that we’re taking it easy on your mane, and making decisions that will prove fruitful for your already damaged hair in the future. If you must have braids (3 strands of hair) vs twists (2 strands of hair) , definitely shy away from cornrows of any kind UNLESS you have a great relationship with a stylist that you trust, and/or don’t plan to have the style for long. Then, cornrow installation with thinning hair and edges (including feed-ins and so on) is acceptable. If not, stay away. The risk is too great. An alternative to traditional single braids is individual feed-in braids, also known as Knotless Braids. They are more lightweight and cause virtually no scalp tension. (Do y’all want a tutorial for this method so you can show your stylist what you need?) One more note on the subject, avoid high buns and puffs while regaining your hair health Sis.
3. Use oils correctly! As quiet as it may be kept, (most) oils alone do not moisturize your hair or scalp. In fact, lacing your scalp with (most) oils can lead to clogged pores & buildup. If you notice, when you apply oil to your dry hair, it sits on top of your strands - coating & covering- never moisturizing because it cannot be absorbed by your hair alone. Moisturizing your hair is the process by which you nourish both your scalp and your strands to promote healthy growth and decrease breakage. Coconut oil, ain't that.
4. Steaming your hair & scalp increases blood flow to your hair follicles. This practice also gently lifts the hair cuticle and allows the products you use to penetrate the hair shaft more deeply. Therefore encouraging moisture retention & healthy growth. The more moisture your hair is able to retain, the better lubricated your hair will be. This is especially important while wearing protective styles.
Dasit. I hope this helps. Feel free to ask questions below!
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