Once the flowers begin to bloom and the sun shines a bit longer, a silent signal is sent out to Black women everywhere, encouraging them to think about their next protective style. From braids and updos to crochet styles and wigs, tis’ the season to give your hair a break from daily manipulation.
Natural hair guru and creator of the award-winning detangle brush, Brush with the Best, Felicia Leatherwood is an expert at maintaining a healthy mane, no matter the season. Although she is widely known for her work with Issa Rae on the hit HBO series, Insecure, she keeps us on our toes with tips and tricks for maintaining healthy kinks and coils. As we flock to the nearest hair braider, Leatherwood is sharing a few helpful tips to protect your hair long after removing your temporary spring or summer style.
Take a 2-4 week break between protective styles
It is not uncommon for women to take their protective style out with just enough time to wash, dry, and restyle their hair. Constant manipulation can create tension on your scalp. “I know a lot of you out there love to stay in your braids, but you have to give yourself at least a two to four-week break,” Leatherwood advised in an exclusive interview with HelloBeautiful.
Two to four weeks allows the hair to breathe and recover from tightness or pulling that may have occurred while braided. Leatherwood takes it a step further to let us know how we can maintain the hair during your resting period. “In between that time is when you wanna be deep conditioning. That’s when you really wanna use your deep conditioners, your protein treatments, hydrators steam treatments to bring the hair back to life from being in those braids,” she continued.
Seal your hair with a leave-in condition before installing your style
A protective style is more than just shielding your hair with additional hair. To effectively protect each strand, you have to make sure your hair is properly moisturized to continue nourishment while your mane is styled.
“A lot of people don’t think about is when you get in your hair braided, but make sure you use a cream to seal the hair before putting the protective styling hair on top. Whether it’s crochet, weave, braids, twists -anything where you’re adding hair, synthetic hair, or otherwise – be sure to coat the hair with a nice cream so that the synthetic hair does not cut into the cuticle layers of your human hair.”
Much like our skin, natural hair thrives when adequately moisturized. Leatherwood introduces another layer of why leave-in conditioners are essential. The textures of synthetic hair can be rough and brittle, and when mixed with your natural hair, it can create knots and split ends.
Protect your edges with a retouch
The hair that outlines the perimeter of your face is the most sensitive. Constant pulling, braiding, or a build-up of products can cause more harm than good. When it comes to those styles with a 2-month lifeline, Leatherwood suggests restyling your edges to preserve your hair.
“With your edges, make sure that you are getting a retouch. If you’re wearing braids, twist, faux locs – any of that – that are hanging off your edges, be sure to get a retouch in about two to three weeks so that you do not pull out your edges,” she advised.
Black women have been braiding and styling our hair long before it was known as a protective style. Our culture taught us how to become architects in the hair space. Because of our creativity and God-given talents, protective styles have become a way of life during those times when you want to be or look different. We can add additional layers of protection to our crown with these valuable tips. Happy styling!