Life After the Protective Style

If you have ever worn a protective style, wigs, Marley twists, box braids, etc., then you should know that bittersweet feeling of taking off the wig or taking out the twists or braids.

This is a bittersweet moment because hopefully you loved wearing your protective style and it made you feel different and you knew your hair was

protected and growing, and that’s the “sweet” part. The “bitter” part comes in when you realize you have to spends hours taking out your extensions and possibly have to go back to styling your hair every day.

Just because it is a bittersweet task, doesn’t mean you should never want to wear protective styles or you should leave your protective style in a ridiculously long time, it just means you have to be mentally prepared when you are getting ready to take out your braids or twists.

Why do you have to be mentally prepared, you ask? Because a lot of questions run through your head, just like they ran through mine when I took out my Marley twists this past Sunday.

Questions like:

Before and After

“What if I don’t look as pretty with my braids/twists out?”

“Am I still going to like my natural hair when I take them out?”
“What if my hair didn’t grow as much as I wanted it to?”
“Is it possible that I damaged my hair?”
“Should I get another protective style right away?”

And many, many, more, but these are just a few thoughts that ran through my mind. Here is where the mental preparedness comes in…you have to be able to combat those semi-negative questions with uplifting and positive answers like the ones listed below.

First question response: You have to know you look beautiful with or without your protective style.

Second question response: You should always love your natural hair, no matter the texture, length, etc. Your natural hair is amazing!

Third question response: You have to remember that your hair will grow. Don’t get too caught up in length where you start neglecting health. Healthy hair will grow no matter what.

Fourth question response: If you know that you moisturized and conditioned your scalp and hair while it was under your protective style, then you have nothing to worry about! You hair is not damaged at all.

Fifth question response: You shouldn’t get a protective style right away, especially not if you want to do it because you feel like you don’t look as good while wearing your natural hair. Give your hair a break and re-embrace your own hair!

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Protective Styling 101

Recently I decided to jump aboard the protective style train. This was my first time getting any type of extensions in my hair.DSC_0015~2

I did a lot of research on Pinterest and Google to find the right protective style for me. I decided to go with Marley twists. It was definitely a good decision!

What is protective styling?

Protective styling is when you give your hair a 1-2 month break from styling. You won’t be able to constantly have your hands in your hair because it will be under a protective style, which is a good thing. You can keep your hair in twists, braids, or even under a natural wig.

What do some styles look like?
protective styles
How do you take care of your protective style?

Some basic items you need to wrap your hair at night are a satin bonnet and satin scarf. To moisturize your hair you can use the LOC method.
Liquid– mix water, a leave in conditioner, and a cream moisturizer in a spray bottle and spritz on hair daily
Oil– use any type of oil (castor, jojoba, coconut, etc.) to moisturize your scalp
Cream– use styling cream (Shea moisture is my preference!) to keep the scalp and hair soft and beautiful

Why should you try protective styling?

1) It gives your natural hair a much needed rest
2) Allows you to try out a totally new look
3) Wearing protective styles helps your hair grow and retain length

Don’t be scared to step outside of the box and try out a protective style. Look at images online and watch YouTube videos to get hair inspiration.

You can also ask other natural girls you know for advice on ones they tried out. Just go for it and rock your new hair!

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Managing Type 4C Hair

Managing type 4c hair can be very difficult considering the coarseness of its texture, shrinkage, and undefined curl pattern. Learning how to deal with this type of hair takes time and patience. I have type 4c hair, and I have learned how to manage my hair, so here are some tips.

Moisture Keeping type 4c hair moisturized is very important. The hair is more prone to breakage because of its texture. Moisture should be applied daily. The easiest way to keep this type of hair moisturized is to spray it with a conditioner and water mix every morning. You can always find another way to moisturize daily. There are a lot of products out there that will help to keep the hair moisturized.

Styling The best way to style type 4c hair is to use protective styling. Protective styling helps to preserve and retain length. If you do not use protective styling, it will be easy for your ends to break off. Protective styling includes twist outs, braid outs, up-dos, etc. These styles may take a while to do, but keeping them in for two weeks is very beneficial. They allow for low manipulation, which increases the chance of length retention.

Detangling I have learned that the best way to detangle is by using my fingers. Combs and brushes tend to snap the ends of my hair. If you decide to use detangling tools, get a wide tooth comb and a soft bristle brush. Also, detangle while the hair is wet, because it will be easier to move through the hair. Detangling your hair in sections will be a great benefit, for the process will be easier to handle.

Products Make sure the products are alcohol and sulfate free. The alcohols cause dryness. Use products that are meant to add moisture to the hair. Always use a leave-in conditioner, which helps to protect the hair from damages.

Shrinkage Sometimes shrinkage can be very frustrating, especially if your hair is down your back but appears to be above your neck. Type 4c hair can shrink up to eighty percent or maybe even more. There are ways to elongate the hair. Twist outs and braid outs usually help to lengthen the hair. These hair styles also help with creating a definite curl pattern. Due to shrinkage, type 4c hair does not have much of a curl pattern. There is a pattern, but the coils are really tight. Wearing a fro and embracing the shrinkage is cool too, but remember to moisturize the fro in order to prevent breakage.

Managing type 4c hair can be tough, but it creates a very distinct look that helps individualize an individual. No matter how much time it takes to do my hair or how difficult it is to manage my hair, I have learned to embrace what I have. My type 4c hair is a part of my identity and individualized style.

Do you have type 4c hair? Do you feel as if it is the most difficult hair type to manage?

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SG7’s Natural Hair Experience

I was a part of a group, SG7, during my senior year in high school. The group was formed for Loveless Academic Magnet Program’s showcase, Showing Our Other Side (SOOS). We stepped, sang, and danced. As of today, we all rock our natural hair. This excites me because we are all able to be a part of the natural hair community, along with sharing ideas with each other and helping each other out. I have interviewed my fellow group members so that they could share how they feel about their natural hair.

Questions:

  1. When and why did you go natural?
  2. What do you like about being natural?

Deborah Bethea: “I went natural the winter of 2010. I honestly did it impulsively. I had heard of it, but didn’t really know what it was about. I am grateful I took the step because I love it. It suits my multi-faceted personality because of the versatility (my favorite part).”

Ryan Scott: “I believe I went natural the summer of 2012 because my hair was VERY damaged from excessive hot tools and relaxers. I like the versatility. One day I can have a curly wash and go and the next a nice blow out, and I know my hair is still healthy.”

Brittany Dallas: “I did the big chop on November 23, 2014. I never planned to go natural. I wanted braids to start off my freshman year in college in order to have a hairstyle that was easy to maintain. So, in order to do that I stopped getting a perm a few months before school started. After wearing braids from August to November, I decided to go natural. I’ve loved it ever since because it makes me feel like I’m doing what’s best for my hair. I find it easier to care for my hair and style my hair now that I have a twa.”

Carla Aviles (Puerto Rican): “Personally, I have always preferred natural hair on African Americans. I don’t know much about what being natural means to different people, but from what I have seen, I like the look of it. I think it is great for someone to embrace their natural hair and be able to do different, beautiful styles with it.”

Kristin Mays: “I went natural in the winter of 2012. I got my first perm in the fifth grade and it started off fine but around the ninth grade, I got a lot of damage. In my junior year of high school I decided to go natural. I love how much healthier my hair is and how many different styles I can do with my natural hair.”

Destiny Turner: “I went natural in September of 2014. I wanted to explore my curl pattern and see what all the hype was about. Plus my permed hair just wasn’t pretty to me anymore. I love the versatility and freedom of my natural hair.”

Although we went natural at different times, we have motivated each other through the wonderful process of going natural.

When and why did you go natural?

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And She Braids Too

High fashion powerhouse, Vogue, dropped an artful video featuring Lupita Nyong’o today, and just like every other time Queen Lupita does anything, the Internet went wild. This video didn’t feature Lupita performing a monologue or stunting on us with her fashion as usual, but it showed her engaging in one of her favorite hobbies: braiding hair. What can’t she do?!

In the short video titled “Braids,” Lupita tells us about how her aunt taught her to braid and twist, as she corn rows a friends hair on camera. All while looking fly, I might add. Her desire to learn the craft came from a disappointing visit to a braid shop in NYC while she was an undergraduate. Throughout the video she skillfully braids the hair of her six closest friends, and shares some of her views on braiding and hair with a subtle passion that is genuinely beautiful. In her eyes, braiding someone’s hair can be “intimate”. She saw it as her “side hustle” and a hobby that gave her the opportunity to connect with others. The short clip is a cute look into her life that adds to her enigmatic presence in pop culture, but also humanizes her, and makes her more relatable. As an African woman myself, it was great to see her doing something that so many women in my family do in their day to day lives. Hair braiding is a cultural symbol that is engrained in the community of black Americans and Africans throughout the Diaspora that has recently been co-opted by sources of high fashion media. As braids show up on runways and fashion spreads, they are becoming trendy, and people who are blind to elements of black culture have believed it to be a “new” hairstyle. In some ways this video helps take ownership back, all while embracing the art form of braiding and natural hair itself.

In cultures across the world, hair is a woman’s crowning glory. To me it’s a physical expression of oneself and identity. Natural hair, and the beauty of black women in general is often chastised and belittled in our society, and that’s one of the many reasons Lupita has been such a breath of fresh air. She is a different picture of “black womanhood”, and to many the physical manifestation of the black woman that is often forgotten in mainstream media. “Braids” is a simple but poignant embrace of the beauty of black hair, African culture, and Lupita herself. I loved it and I encourage you to watch it here!

photo credit: http://hiphollywood.com/2014/06/braided-up-lupita-nyongo-reveals-haircare-hobby/

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