Protective Styles in the Winter: A Guide to Do It Right

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To fully embrace my “natural” and adopt a more holistic lifestyle, I’ve been trying hard to take better care of my natural hair and wear it out more. My fellow naturals can relate to the struggle of sometimes loving your hair, and sometimes having mixed emotions about it. They probably can also relate to those moments when you’re completely over your hair altogether. Well, as the weather starts to get colder, I’m finding myself experience more of these moments. Hence this post.

While your hair does have the potential to become dry and brittle in the winter season, with proper care you can retain length and moisture in the colder harsh seasons. There are numerous protective styles to choose from including simple low maintenance hairstyles like buns and cornrows to more elaborate protective hairstyles like individual braids (box braids, Senegalese twists etc.), wigs and weaves to help you protect your hair.

Here is my survival guide to caring for your natural hair, while in a protective style, during the cold seasons.

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THE BASICS: PROS & CONS

Advantages of Protective Styling

  • Low Maintenance – Allows very little manipulation of your hair allowing you to retain your length due to lack of breakage.
  •  Saves You Time – Some mornings when I do a twist out or wash and go, it can add up to 15 minutes to my morning routine. The worst part is if my hair is even a little damp when I leave the house it makes the cold 10x worse. That's why I love braids or weave when it's cold. All I have to do in the morning is comb my hair (or at most straighten it if needed).
  • You become a new person – I love changing my look, so the cold seasons are the best time to add a little extra flair to your layered styles.
  • Keeps Hair Soft and Moisturized – Since your hair is not exposed to the dry winds and you continue to moisturize it and keep it protected, your hair will be softer.

Disadvantages of Protective Styling

  • Breakage – If you plait your hair too tightly in braids your hair will be prone to breakage. Also, not washing your hair or moisturizing it whilst it’s in the protective style will make your hair more prone to breakage.
  • Tangling – This is due to your hair being kept uncombed for too long. We would not recommend keeping a protective style in for more than four weeks. After those four weeks, wash your hair and change up the protective style/low maintenance style.
  • Dryness – This can occur if you do not choose a protective style that will allow you to moisturize your hair and scalp.
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Guidelines for Protective Styling

  • Choose What's Best For You - Choose a protective style that will work best for you and will be easiest to manage your schedule/daily routine.
  • Don't Braid Your Hair Too Tight - When getting your hair plaited, make certain that it’s not tight and causing strain on your hair and scalp.
  • Treat Your Hair Before Styling - Wash your hair thoroughly and deep condition it so that your hair goes into the protective style healthy and strong. I also like to oil my scalp before braiding it
  • Protect Your Edges - Protect Your Edges. Make certain that your edges are NOT being plaited into the protective style. Your edges tend to be the most prone to breakage. You do not want your edges falling out…that is not cute, honey. To protect your edges during Winter simply use castor oil and massage them at night before bed. 
  • Moisturize - Moisturize your scalp and hair at night before bed with your normal moisturizer and either spritz oil or spray a little hair sheen on your hair in the morning. I started using the tension relief products from Shea Moisture and they've worked great! 
  • Wash Your Hair -  Wash Your Hair! Do not use the excuse that it is too cold outside. Either use an ACV rinse with a cotton ball to cleanse your scalp our co-wash your hair to put back moisture into your hair while getting the dirt out.
  • Wrap Your Hair At Night With a Satin Bonnet - Trust me. Not only will it keep your style fresh, but it will also prevent your hair from looking crazy when you wake up.
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  • And that's it! There are other good tips for making sure your hats are satin lined, but in all honesty, if you follow these rules you will be good! 

Get ready loves because winter is coming!

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