5 Benefits of Protective Styles for Black Hair

If you've done any research into promoting hair growth, you've probably heard of "protective styles." You know which hairstyles are considered protective, such as braids, weaves, twists and buns. But are they really necessary? Despite all the guidelines you'll find for growing hair longer and stronger, some women simply find the idea of protective styling boring -- but it doesn't have to be. Once you discover the benefits of keeping your hair up and out of the way, at least on occasion, you may change your mind about this effective technique.

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Low Maintenance

Twists are a low-maintenance protective style.
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The less you do to black hair, the better it flourishes. Our hair can rarely stand the type of manipulation so often depicted in commercials: the piling of the hair on top of the head to shampoo, the 100 brush strokes, etc. Instead, black hair tends to grow longer when left alone. Protective styles offer the low-maintenance that so often benefits this hair type, especially if longer length is one of your aims. Once you style hair in one of these 'dos, daily maintenance is a breeze, which is perfect for anyone who's not into a high-maintenance mane. This is one reason cornrow extensions and box braids are so popular, whether you're going on vacation or not: once installed, they require extremely little daily care.

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Retains Growth

Woman with long hair
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Growing longer hair is one of the most-cited reasons for choosing protective styling. Forget that prevailing myth that black hair doesn't grow -- it most certainly does. However, it can also break off at an alarming rate because loose ends catch on fabric, car seats, cotton pillowcases and more. When hair constantly breaks, it's difficult to see and measure growth. Putting your tresses up and keeping them protected prevents a large amount of breakage. Over time, you'll see longer, stronger hair that's not compromised by everyday stressors.

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Time Savers

Woman hitting alarm clock
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Maybe you're not the type who has unlimited time in the morning for hair styling. If so, protective hairstyles may be your solution to getting ready more quickly, making for a smooth start to your day. Once you style twists and braids, you don't need to do much to them, besides the occasional touch-up with a loose twist or a daily spritz with natural oils. Just make sure you secure your hair at night before bed, and in the morning, you may be ready with a gentle shake of the head.

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Keeps Hair Soft

Woman touching soft hair.
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If you've ever worn your hair up for the day versus wearing it out, you may notice a difference at the day's end where softness is concerned. Take down a chignon and you'll usually find it soft and supple because it's held in much of the natural oils that get soaked up by dry air and clothing. A well-moisturized mane, one that feels soft to the touch, is less likely to suffer breakage and dryness, which in turn leads to growth retention, just another benefit of wearing tresses up and out of sight, even if for a little while.

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Braids are a great protective style option.
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Unfortunately, many people have formed the idea that daily protective styling is boring. Nothing could be further from the truth if you only use some creativity when doing your 'do. Individual braids can be worn loose, with a headband or scarf, pulled back with an attractive elastic, worn half-up/half-down -- see where this is going? The same can be done with two-strand twists. The style that's probably caught the most flak for being "dull" is the bun. Why not dress your bun up with a feathered hair accessory or sparkling pins? Try a double bun instead of a single one, or a braid and bun combo. There's no lack of versatility, even with these hairstyles, when you put some imagination into it.

Even so, when you want to wear your hair out, do it! You don't have to limit yourself to these styles 24/7 -- they're perfect for occasional wear, but don't feel prisoner to protective styling if you want to show off every inch of your glorious mane.