Complex textures and curl patterns are part-and-parcel of Afro hair. As such, it demands a lot of upkeep. Another characteristic of Afro hair is its brittle nature. So, manipulating it unnecessarily day in, day out causes harm.
This is why protective hairstyles are popular. They’re low maintenance which saves vast amounts of time on daily styling. They’re also kinder to your locks and allow the freedom to grow out your hair. They’re fun too. By experimenting, you can change up your look effortlessly.
You’ve come to the right place for protective hair inspiration. From bantu knots and box braids to wigs and wraps, here’s all you need to know about protecting your precious textured hair whilst looking amazing to boot…
Bantu knots are a traditional African style that’s been reinvented as a cultural and fashion statement. Historically documented as a protective style, they help preserve longer lasting and curlier shaping.
Box braids are extremely versatile. They range in thickness from jumbo sized to thin as string. They can be enhanced with beads and wrapped in threads. They can be left loose or pinned into a halo or bun on top of your head. They can even be braided once again (braided braids).
Cornrows are worn under wigs or on their own. Not only are they great for keeping hair out of your face, they’re a canvas to express your artistic and creative skills. To keep your cornrows neater for longer, sleep with a silk bonnet or scarf. It’ll reduce pillow-induced frizz.
Faux locs are dreadlocks without the lifetime commitment. People with Afro hair are wearing as a professional style for school and work as well as red carpet and other events.
Space buns are either wrapped into a bun or simply tied. You can personalise them by how you part your hair, have a fringe or not, use a braid running from the edges of your hair to the bun, whatever. Neatly tying your hair into two clean buns avoids traction often associated with this type of ‘do.
Twist outs are a way of creating defined curls without heat application. For the optimum twist outs, hydrate with leave-in conditioner followed by a moisture-locking oil then use a wide-tooth comb or just your fingers to detangle for a spiralling curls effect.
Twist outs with a difference – natural flat twists
A slight deviation from twist outs and cornrows, as the name suggests, natural flat twists are styled flat to the head. They’re both easier and quicker to do, ideal for beginners or people in a hurry.
The ease of application and realistic appearance of wigs today make them a go-to protective style. Straight out of the package, spray with dry shampoo if your wig looks too shiny in order to achieve a natural finish.
Why not just tie your hair into a loose ponytail or plait and wrap a pretty scarf around your head? You can’t get any more protective than this and it’s chic too. Play around with colours and patterns as the perfect accessory for your outfit.
We conclude with a word of caution about protective hairstyles. Tightness and pulling can cause hair loss, otherwise known as traction alopecia. If a pulling force is applied due to a very tight or heavy style, traction ensues with hair lost at the pressure points. This is the opposite of what you actually want when choosing a protective hairstyle.
Our advice is to make sure your hair’s in good condition before you begin. A decent trim will work wonders. Once you’ve settled on your style, don’t fasten too tightly or apply too much pressure on any one section of your hair. Be mindful of not leaving protective styles in your hair for overly long, apply oil to prevent dryness, keep well moisturised to limit environmental damage, and get regular cuts to keep your hair healthy and strong.
If using a hairdresser, select a stylist who understands textured hair and has experience in protective hairstyles. Discover how to make the right choice by reading our earlier ‘Bad salon warning signs’ blog.
If you suffer injury during a visit to the hairdresser’s, get in touch with us to make a claim. Email email@example.com, call 0800 141 3682 from a landline for free, phone 0333 202 6560 from a mobile or complete our online enquiry form.