I love hair. I used to hate doing my hair. So I have rocked a huge variety of protective styles over the years. Most of which have required me to tuck my hair away for very long periods of time. Today, I was thinking about the different hairstyles I have worn. I want to dive into the pros and cons of each of the most popular in the natural hair community.
Weaves! Oh how I used to love my weaves! Now they are the least favorite of the 3. I was a 20-22-24 in Brazilian or Malaysian hair. I despised straight hair and love my hair to look full and curly/wavy. I became very educated in the weave world: (1) buy human hair for longevity; (2) wear a net to protect your braids from the yarn; (3) the longer the hair, the thinner the hair on the weft. Always go for more bundles for the hair to look thick. Yeah, I knew my stuff. I could sew them in as well. However, my braiding skills are not the best so I would always get it done by a good friend of mine.
The pros of weaves: amazing retention and very low maintenance to the middle of your head. My hair grew a lot when I would rock weaves. I could keep one in for 3-4 months before my scalp became unbearable. I now know that is not a good thing. But I could. My hair would never mat up and any shedding came from the fact that I had not run a comb in my hair for 3-4 months. However, the cons: itchy scalp, destroyed edges, and my hair underneath smelled foul. I would always leave the front of my hair out to blend my weave to my hair. Once I dropped perms, I found myself flat ironing the front of my hair so much that there was barely any hair there. I was literally burning off the front of my hair. I would wash my hair, but let’s be honest….there was only so much “cleanliness” that would actually go on. My scalp would dry out and still retain a lot of dirt. Especially, since I am extremely active. This also attributed to the smell. I should have worn a gas mask when taking my hair down. I’m being extra, but you get what I am saying.
Wigs! I loved wigs. The idea of changing your hair consistently without actually damaging your hair was the best thing. I also learned how to make my own wigs. Remember that weave hair, yeah I turned it into a wig. It took forever to get right. But when I finished it, oh what an accomplishment. I also never made another one after that. Too much time. I wore an asymmetrical bob (pictured above), red and black hair, big curly hair, long hair, light brown and black hair, etc. etc. etc. In total I have about 8 wigs. They are low maintenance and gave me the option of changing it up consistently. Also, since I put my hair in cornrows, my hair was easy to maintain underneath the wigs. I had the ability to moisturize consistently and my hair grew more so in the wigs than the weaves. I could still do my regimen of co-washing and shampooing. Wanna to know my secret, I NEVER got them sewed in. I would take them off nightly to allow my scalp to breathe and so I could maintain my hair. Since my hair was in low manipulation styling underneath the wig, I had a lot of retention.
Ok, so I know you are wondering what is the negative part….the concept of a wig. I do not know why people have a such adverse reaction to a person wearing wigs. In my mind, weaves and wigs are the same thing: you are putting someone else’s hair on your head. Maybe it is the removal part that kills people. It is like removing a second scalp. My boyfriend hated them! Which is what motivated me to stop wearing them altogether. It was fine, that lead me to start taking care of my natural hair. I love my TWA and 4b/4c kinks and coils. That would not have happened if he didn’t ask me to remove the wigs.
Box Braids! This is a new protective style for me and I love it. I used to get singles in my hair….but the wear and tear was too much. I am learning how to moisturize and maintain the braids. Yesterday, I accomplished oiling and moisturizing my scalp with complete ease. My braids are not tight in the least bit so I do not have to worry about torn-up edges. My girl did a great job. I like braids for the same reason I like wigs: accessibility to your scalp. I can still maintain and take care of the hair underneath easily. I have not determined how I am going to wash my hair though. I have some ideas….it is going to require a couple of more spray bottles in my possession. I am not washing my hair under a nozzle. I refuse. I have had too many bad experiences washing singles in a shower.
Cons: washing your hair in the shower…it never dries and your hair can mildew. Thank GOD my hair never did. However, there is a circulated picture of a woman’s hair that grew mold underneath her braids. Just thinking about it gives me shivers. That is definitely a natural woman’s worst nightmare. The mold caused the majority of hair to fall out as well. Horrid! Anyway, I do think braids require more maintenance than wigs. You scalp is directly exposed to the elements. Right now, it is cold in Cali and it requires me to moisturize a little extra. Your scalp needs TLC.
I love protective styling but I would like to reiterate one crucial thing. If you want your/any protective style to optimize your hair growth: TAKE CARE OF THE HAIR UNDERNEATH. I used to be the lazy protective style wearer. Put in a protective style and let the hair take care of itself, one of the worst things I have ever done. Yes my hair grew, but it was not healthy and in the end I would have to cut the hair off. Avoid that! The work you put in while your hair is in protective styles will save you when you remove them.
How? I have adopted the L.O. method to keep my scalp moisturized in braids: liquid and oil. My aloe vera juice mix and hair oil mix keep my scalp healthy. I’m due for a wash this weekend, so I am going to develop a regimen and then post it here.
Hope this gave you some insight into protective styling. And no matter what style you put it, don’t forget to SLAY!