I received this question today, started emailing her back, then decided to post it on here. 🙂
As a new natural (1 month; transitioned for 11 months), people have been on me about protective styling for hair growth. But, as I perused your blog, I noticed that you did not do much protective styling and have managed consistent growth. Your hair looks healthy and beautiful.
My question to you is do you subscribe to the notion that protective styling is a must for growth (I may have missed something on your blog about this)? I’m pretty much a wash and go girl and I am not a big fan of weaves or braids. I would love your opinion on the matter.
First off, thank you so much for the compliment. I like to think Izzy is doing well, and it feels good to see my natural hair thrive and have others notice. 🙂
Regarding protective styling – I am one of those rebellious naturals that doesn’t believe in it for the most part. For one, your hair is always growing, it’s retention that is the issue. A lot of people look at their hair length and say that their hair is not growing, but technically, it’s incorrect. It’s just that their hair is breaking off just as fast as it grows, so the length remains the same. Unless you have a medical condition or nutrition deficiency, your hair IS growing.
I believe low manipulation is the key to length retention, which can be done in various ways. IMO, wash and gos are low manipulation because you are basically letting your hair do it’s thing. You aren’t constantly pulling it taut, and if you are using the correct products, your ends should be moisturized, which is also key to preventing breakage. However – there are two ways wash and gos could hinder retention:
1. Some women experience extreme tangling when they do wash and gos due to shrinkage. Extreme tangles = difficult detangling = breakage. I love my wash and gos, so I did a video that gave tips on how to minimize tangles – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS60nLRa6-A
. Washing my hair in sections has almost eliminated my tangles. I can detangle quickly in the shower now. Also, applying product thoroughly ensures that your hair is properly moisturized, encourages clumping (less tangles when your curls are in sync), and lessens shrinkage, especially with a gel.
2. Once your hair reaches a certain length, it will rub on your clothes. This can cause breakage, especially if you are wearing “harsher” fabrics, like cotton and wool. When my hair reaches this length, I plan to mitigate this issue by wearing my hair off my shoulders more (buns, loose ponytails), and wearing clothes that my hair won’t rub on much – think tank tops, strapless tops, etc. Luckily, thanks to shrinkage, my hair only reaches my chin when I wash and go, so it’s not rubbing on anything once it’s dry. I like shrinkage for this reason. When I’m wearing my hair straight, I usually keep it in a bun.
The main thing you need to do is monitor your hair – if you are seeing excess shed hairs (handfuls of hair) or lots of little broken hairs when you touch your hair, around your house, in the shower/sink, and when you detangle, you should re-assess your regimen. Do I think that it’s possible to eliminate breakage? No. The ends of your hair are old, and they are going to break a little. Almost everything “weathers” our hair – touching, the sun, wind, hot temperatures, cold temperatures, combing, brushing, pulling, rewetting, etc. I don’t fret if I get 3 broken hairs when I do my weekly detangling. Three pieces of hair is nothing compared to the amount of hair we have on our heads. But if I constantly saw little hairs on my clothes (like I did when I had a relaxer), I would worry.
The only thing weaves/braids do is tuck away your ends so they can’t break off, which yes, will help with retention, but if they are done incorrectly, they can also cause damage to your hairline. Furthermore, if you do not care for your hair properly while it’s in braids or weaves, you may end up with very dry hair, which causes breakage. I’ve never gotten a weave/braids because I don’t have a stylist that I trust, and I’m scared I wouldn’t know how to take good care of my hair.
Anyway, I hope my very long answer was helpful, lol. Happy hair growing!