Should You Protective Style Short Hair?

Should You Protective Style Short HairWith so much emphasis placed on the importance of protective styling in natural hair care, those who are freshly big chopped or who are still in the growing out stages may be confused as to whether or not they should protective style. The most confusing question is probably how do you protective style when your hair is only a couple of inches long or shorter?

First, we must understand what protective styling is and why so much importance is placed on it. The first thing you probably heard when you began you natural hair journey was that “all hair grows.” It is the way we treat our hair and not what we put in it that determines if our hair will forever remain “black girl long” aka shoulder length or if we can dare to imagine our tresses reaching fairy tale lengths that once seemed unattainable to most black women.

This is where protective styling comes in.

The purpose of protective styling is to protect the hair’s fragile ends from damage and breakage. Damage to the ends can occur due to several causes such as friction, environmental conditions and rough handling. Protective styles are meant to tuck the ends up and away from the perils of wool sweaters, purse straps, wind storms and direct sun.

Protective styles are not to be confused with low manipulation styles. While protective styling can be low manipulation these two concepts are not interchangeable (more on that in another blog).

The only true protective styles are buns,  cornrows, and twists, as they do not require daily styling or manipulation. There also is  the option of wearing weaves and wigs (providing the ends of the natural hair are protected from friction underneath). Other styles that are noted as protective are actually low manipulation.

So, I am sure by now you are more confused than ever. If I have a TWA should I be protective styling? The answer is yes and no.
Yes, even short hair should be protected from breakage. No, you do not need “protective styling” per se.

While short hair is less susceptible to breakage from friction, there are still times when the ends should be protected. The hair should not some in direct contact with any fabric other than silk, satin or some variation. When wearing wool, cotton or other rough porous fabrics on the head there should be a barrier like a satin scarf placed between the hair and the non-satin fabric. Wearing a satin bonnet or scarf or sleeping on a satin pillow case at night will protect your TWA from drying out and snagging on cotton pillows.

Short hair is also susceptible to environmental stressors such as sun, sea salt and pollution. It is a good idea to cover the hair when going to the beach or participating in extended outdoor activities.

Protective styling is essential to retaining length and reaching your long hair dreams. Remember those same hairs that are barely emerging from your scalp today will be the same ends that will one day be grazing the small of your back. Keep them safe.

5 thoughts on “Should You Protective Style Short Hair?

  1. no one ever talks about styles for balding 4c hair. Are there any styles out there for awful looking 4c hair due to traction alopecia, dryness, and damage? Twists and other styles for 4c balding and damaged hair looks so ulgly because the scalp is well seen and the parts are so large in which it strongly appears that the individual is experiencing balding. Adding fake hair such as braids/cornrows just makes it worse because this is what started the problem in the first place( fake hair being too tight or too heavy or both etc., etc.). And many (I did not say most or all) beauticians do not know how to deal with nappy nappy nappy hair these days. Also, I must wear a head cover at work, and I can not allow it to be ‘greasy’. Suggestions? Desparate. Otherwise, I am gonna have to return to a relaxer. Please answer and please help.

  2. I am experiencing the same problem that m.ray has just made mention of.
    Before I decided to go all natural, my hair was thick, long strong and very healthy.
    Right now, I think that my problem is that I am not getting enough protein in my diet. My strategy is to start to eat more beans, lean meat and protein on a daily basis. i will monitor this plan for the next two months an report back to you with my results.

    1. I am in the same boat as Maggie and m.ra, I have thinning edges and a thinning spot on top of my head. I was moved to go natural because I felt that relaxers were not good to my hair. I have worn my hair in a short nice layered style, so I am starting out with a TWA. I am still transitioning and do not have much information on how to really take care of my hair in this state. I am open for all suggestions….thanks!!!!

  3. I was afraid of protective styling my TWA for various reasons, but my hair took off growing once I finally did (rather, it stopped shedding.)

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