Black hair is complex. And with life in the times of a pandemic, who still has the time or patience to reach for a comb? Maybe consider protective hairstyling as a low-maintenance option, ngwaneso.
Like a kind of natural armour, protective styles can guard the hair and the minds of black women against threats both physical and existential.
Poetic, we know. But the benefits of protective styling are magic as it protects your hair from stretching, manipulation and environmental damage, says natural hair YouTuber Asekho Nkinqa.
Black hair is complex, dynamic, historically mistreated and underrepresented. But legend has it that our tightly coiled hair is divinely designed to protect our brains from the harsh heat of the African sun.
“That hair is strong and resilient but at the same time, it can be quite fine and fragile, especially vulnerable at the curve of the curl and at the ends, which are susceptible to tangles, knots, snags and breakage,” writer and stylist Michaela Angela Davis tells Allure magazine.
“So black women routinely gather our strands together and gently tuck in those delicate ends to shield hair from damage and loss.”
Your hair is worthy of good things
Besides contributing to hair growth, protective hairstyling gives your scalp and hair a well-deserved break, says Nkinqa.
“Did you know that combing your hair every day is not good for your hair? Combing your hair every day causes your hair to break.”
“Protective hairstyling does not harm your hair and relieves your scalp; therefore, when selecting a protective style, one should consider what is best for their hair. Hair should not be overly stretched.”
Choosing products suited to your texture
Each person has a unique texture, says Nkinqa. There are four main types of hair texture: type 1 – straight; type 2 – wavy; type 3 – curly; and type 4 – tightly coiled.
The hair type and texture can be further broken down into A, B and C based on the hair’s curl pattern, density, porosity, width and length.
Nkinqa points out that hair porosity determines which products would be good for our hair.
She says, “Certain ingredients and products do not work for certain hair types.
“High-porosity hair, for example, sucks up a lot of product, which means you may need to moisturise your hair more frequently than a person with low-porosity hair.”
Hair is like skin, she suggests. “I like to compare skincare with hair care because it helps to know what works for you.
“This helps narrow down what you can do and what you can’t do with your hair. For example, I know I cannot do what someone with 3C hair does, while I have type 4C hair; what she does may not correspond to the type of hair I have.”
This summer you can try:
Chloe’s goddess locks:
Tracee Ellis Ross’ bantu knots
Issa Rae’s poetic justice braids
Thuso Mbedu’s protective Fulani braids
Amandla Stenberg’s colourful jumbo braids
Strapped for cash?
Nkinqa also notes that the costs of protective styling have increased significantly in salons. She suggests you try DIY braids at home.
“I got the impression that going natural would be straightforward and cost less; I had no idea what the journey would entail at the time,” she says.
Uncomplicate the journey with this DIY guide for jumbo braids at home: