All Articles Tagged "protective styling"
You’re out with the besties, looking good, feeling great and dancing like you’re on tour with Ciara. You go to the powder room for a quick re-up on your lipstick, but instead you’re greeted with a harsh vision staring back at you: Your once gloriously coiled hair has played you for the fool. That’s right, your locks have shrunken into something you can’t quite describe verbally, but your hair has you looking like you came up from the gutter like Oscar the Grouch.
While your night might be shot in more ways than one because of shrinkage, there are some preventative things you can do to ensure you’ve got some shrinkage-free hair days and nights ahead.
First thing first: Stop striving for perfection. We don’t have professional hairstylists to call each morning to make our hair look like Tracee Ellis Ross’ uniform-yet-beachy roller-set curls. That’s okay. Getting solid results when dealing with natural hair takes a couple of layers of product, more than a few months in the game of styling and some patience. Expecting perfect hair only leads to frustration, which leads to spur of the moment changes like decisions to trip and chop or turning to chemicals. There’s no turning back when your hair is in the bathroom trash. To avoid this, consider an appropriate hair crush—someone with a similar texture and density—to get styling and product inspiration from. This could be someone from YouTube, or even better, someone you see regularly. Oh, and another thing: Stop stretching your hair to see its ‘true’ length. Accept that the length you see is what you have. You’ll be able to better predict how your hair will turn out when you accept what it will look like after it has dried.
The wash and go or any other free-flowing style can easily go left, especially when moisture and humidity photobombs the picture. Don’t panic if your hair has gone awry in the middle of the day. Keeping bobby pins and long hair ties (literally, a long piece of fabric to tie around your hair or a headband) in your purse and at your desk will give you some security. Also consider a couple of protective styles. It’s not a crime to stretch your curl pattern with braids, twists or banding as a way to prep your hair for other hairstyles. You don’t have to start with wet hair or with dry and puffy second-day hair either. (Plus, a loose twist out is the suspect most likely to start trouble and shrink up if not monitored every half hour.) Structured ‘dos also give you more control, giving you a chance to relax and exhale with peace knowing your hair will behave while atop your head. And of course, heavy styling that snatches your edges back in the middle of the night are no-nos. If you can’t lower your head to read a book, you probably should loosen up and stop being so uptight with your styles.
With all this said, what works for one head of hair may not work for another head of hair. What works for the hair growing from your head should be what you do. Shrinkage happens to most naturals, but finding products that help you retain a curl pattern or prevent the weather from doing a number on your ‘do are helpful. This is easier said than done and a substantial amount of trial and error is bound to occur. Here’s a bit of advice: Avoid spending money on expensive specialty products. You’ll only end up with an open grave of jars and bottles of high-end potions on the third shelf behind your bathroom mirror. You’ll know if your hair likes thick or thin conditioners, no matter the price point, so be strategic about what products you try. Changing one variable at a time is the best way to test a new product. That way you’ll know if it’s keeping your hair shrinkage free or if it’s nothing more than perfumed water in a fancy bottle.
Above all, don’t get discouraged. Your hair won’t be straight-out-the-salon or product-box perfect every day. You’ll have some regular hair days along with some great ones that will pleasantly surprise you. It’s all a part of doing this natural hair thing. Eventually, you’ll get a style routine down, then you’ll be on to focusing on working that second-day hair.
This is not an anti-hair weave post but rather, this is a pro-truth post.
And the hardcore, nitty-gritty straight no chaser-kind truth is that a weave is not a protective style. A weave is just a weave.
Yeah I know, what business is it of mine what someone else puts on their head? It isn’t my business – until folks try to convince me that what I’m seeing is not what I am actually seeing. And that is what has been happening as of late in a couple of the natural hair social networking groups to which I belong. Perhaps because of the change of season, the sites have been awash with posts and pictures of self-proclaimed natural hair women, rocking the 23-inches of Brazilian wet and wavy cascading down their backs. They call it “protective styling,” a term coined to describe the process in which women (and men too) hide their hair from “harmful agents.” It used to just apply to those rocking the braids and cornrows, but some of our more ingenious womenfolks have found a loophole into TeamNatural by playing fast and loose with the lingo to make it more weave-tastic.
Technically, certain wig and weave styles, particularly the sewn-in, allow the hair a break from the daily stresses some women do to their hair including processing and perming, tugging and over-styling. And technically certain wigs and weave styles, are a great way to promote growth because your hair is pretty much in a dormant state from such manipulation, thus more free to do what it does uninhibited. But also technically, you have someone else’s hair on your head. And no matter how you try to spin it, that just ain’t natural.
At the core of what bugs me the most about the weave classification as a “protective style” is the distorted, if not counterproductive motives behind it. Honestly natural hair shouldn’t be this high maintenance. And unless there are hair bandits on the loose, hoping to score on the black market with a handful of your natural coils, there is really nothing in our natural environment that we have to protect the hair from. Everything else is truly about accepting and learning how to deal with your own hair as it comes out of your head – whether it comes out extra kinky or extra fine; in the snow, sleet, rain, wind or through hot summers. Acceptance of our hair is supposed to teach us that not every style choice is meant for us but that’s okay because our hair is beautiful anyway. Yet throwing a weave or some braids in your head – while a cute style – teaches you nothing about your hair, especially when you wear it for 11 months out of the year (which many of these womenfolks in TeamNatural are professing to do). All it does is just tucks away the “problem,” some folks refuse to deal with upfront. Of course, the real problem isn’t so much the hair as it is the thinking.
I recently read an article that said women shouldn’t go natural because no one has time to wet their hair every day and moisturize every night. I nearly choked on my dinner. Do people do this? Realistically, are people out there tending to their strands at every waking moment and following “the rules” to a tee? I find that hard to believe. While we are all prone to stressing over the strict do’s and don’ts of proper hair care every now and then (guilty as charged!), I’ll let you in on a little secret: Sometimes, and perhaps I shouldn’t be telling you this, it’s OK to let some things fall by the wayside for a little bit. Besides, stressing about doing everything right all the time will only make your hair fall out anyway, right? Here are a few so-called hair rules you should feel free to break.
Earlier this month in my Biggest Myths about African American Hair piece I mentioned that African American hair has the ability to grow as long as other races or ethnicities. Several disagreed, some rather rudely. (Never underestimate the fervor, passion or vigor black women have about their hair!) Either way I still stand by the statement. You don’t have to be of multiracial origin to achieve the hair so many of us covet. Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find many African Americans who don’t have a little or a lotta bit of “something else” in their blood.
But that’s beside the point, African American hair can grow if properly maintained and that’s the key. The natural, coily texture of our hair is fragile and frankly many of us are very ignorant about what it takes for it to thrive. (Hence the YouTube tutorials.) So if you’re interested in tresses that graze the top of your booty, here are some tips to grow long, luscious African American hair.