Jay Cee: How to Protect your Natural Hair without Weaving or Braiding
By Janet Chencha
Some individuals express surprise when I tell them that I do not wear weaves, wigs or braided extensions. Friends have asked me how exactly I protect my hair since I don’t “protective style.” For those unaware of the term protective styling, these are styles that keep the ends of your hair tucked away. The goal is to protect it from friction, dryness, constant handling and protein loss. In my opinion, protection does not come from one particular style. It encompasses your whole hair care regimen. Protected hair means less breakage, and longer thicker healthy natural hair. The fact that you are reading this indicates that we probably share this same goal!
Why Protective Styling : Every self-respecting length chaser strives to prevent breakage at all costs.
So, how do you go about protecting your natural hair from length stealing thieves? Here are my three haircare pillars:
1) Protect your hair by keeping it simple
To prevent constant manipulation, I choose styles that don’t need to be redone daily. I choose one style for at least a week, if not two. I also like styles that can transition into another style with minimum fuss. For example, twists. I can wear twists for a week then the following week unravel them for a twist out and then when the twist out starts to lose definition, I can, with minimal manipulation, transition that into a puff, double puff, bun, fro-hawk etc.
2) Protect your Hair when you wash it
- Pre-poo before every wash.
- I use a sulfate free shampoo. In betwee shampoo washes if I feel I need to refresh my hair but my scalp is ok, I co-wash.
- Deep condition every time I shampoo.
- I moisturize my hair with the LOC method on wash day then refresh in between washes by either using the spritz bottle or lightly re-applying my leave in conditioner.
3) Protect your Hair from the elements
- I don’t stay under the sun for too long without a hat. If by some misfortune I end up without a hat, I must re-moisturize my hair as soon as possible.
- I must sleep in my satin bonnet or silk or satin scarf or on my satin pillow case, these materials help reduce moisture loss and friction.
- I am very cautious about how I sit. When the seat has a material that can suck moisture out of my hair or cause friction, I either do not rest my hair on it, or I wear my silk or satin scarf or place the scarf where my head will touch. This includes the car seat when driving.
- I also avoid friction when washing my hair. While washing, I avoid scrubbing my hair like a pair of old jeans. Instead I use a gentle, downwards smoothing motion. When applying product to my hair, I squeeze the products in as opposed to rubbing them in. This has been described as ‘praying hands’ as you moisturize your hair.
- To prevent protein loss that typically happens during washing of the hair, I pre-poo with coconut oil which is said to bind protein to the hair. I also do light protein treatments periodically.
As you can see, protecting natural hair is much more than simply putting your hair into a particular style. It is a way of life. I am able to retain length because my hair is well protected even if I don’t use extensions to style it. In my case this works well because the added downside to extensions is ‘out of sight – out of mind.’
Share your opinions below – how do you protect your natural hair?