Protective Styling: The Pros & Cons

It hasn't started snowing yet in the T-dot, but nevertheless, winter is here! Every winter (since I've worn my hair naturally) I have the same plan, and every winter I never follow through with it. What's that plan, you ask? To put my hair away for a few months and enjoy the wonders of protective styling.

What is protective styling?

In essence, it's what my mom did with my hair every day as a young girl. It's what I did for months at a time to "give my hair a break" from relaxer. It's what I did to transition from relaxed to natural hair. Braids, twists, cornrows, weave - protective styling is a method of "putting your hair away" for one reason or another.


  • It's a time saver: Morning prep time gets cut down in a major way. Going out for a hot night out? You won't need to do too much to sexify your hair!
  • It is/can be a money saver: Yes, you'll have to come out of pocket for the style to be done, unless you're skilled enough to do it yourself, or have a homie that can hook you up - but for product junkies who use a zillion styling aids to create a fly look, you'll be keeping some money in your pocket and product on your shelves.
  • It can help your hair to grow: I have always found that leaving my hair alone for a good chunk of time yields some awesome growth. I have serious hand-in-hair syndrome, and overly manipulating my hair sometimes causes me problems. Putting my hair in a protective style would eliminate that for a while and allow my hair to thrive. Protective styling keeps your ends safe and saves them from damage - especially during the winter seasons. It's a good way to keep your hair away from harsh winter weather, and protects your hair from rubbing and snagging on coats, scarves, and hats.
  • Protective styling gives you options for brand new 'dos: I remember having my hair in some Poetic Justice braids during university. When I pulled those plaits up into a huge bun, I felt like a damn queen! It was so regal! The kinky twists that I wore to transition with enabled me to have a new look almost every day. Protective styling doesn't have to be boring! Have fun with it!


  • If not done right, protective styling can cause more damage than good: Always ensure that your braids, cornrows, etc. are not done too tightly! When I had my hair braided back in the day, I was told they had to be tight to ensure the longevity of the style. I once got microbraids done - two days later, braids started falling out from the root along my hairline. I almost passed out. Needless to say, that style did not last a third day.
  • It's not a completely maintenance-free option: Don't get lazy! Continue to wash your hair with a good clarifying shampoo/conditioner combo to remove buildup from your scalp. Your scalp needs to breathe in order for your hair to grow! Also, don't keep your style in for too long. If your braids are hanging on for dear life, do them a favour and let them go. Over-extending the life of your style leads to Con #1. And a reminder: eat healthily, drink lots of water, and understand that what goes in your body affects your hair growth just as much (if not more) than what you do with your head.

I forgot to add another "con", which is why I've never followed through with my protective styling plans: you'll miss your hair! Call me a geek, but I have separation anxiety with my kinks and curls :) I might actually go for it this time, in the hopes that I'll have even more kinks and curls to play with in a few months! I'll keep you posted!

Do you have a regular protective styling regimen? What are some other pros and cons you've found? What are your favourite protective styles? If you have any horror or success stories, do share!

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