It has been, 1180 days, 3 years 2 months and 41 days since I last burnt my scalp, straightened my coils with creamy crack in pursuit of a more ‘manageable’ hair type. Fast forward to today and the health and texture of my natural 4c hair has improved. I no longer suffer from excessive dryness and severe breakage. Unlike other natural queens I’ve seen such a Naptural85 and April Bee I chose to transition rather than the more drastic big chop method. Transition involves leaving your regrowth unpermed hair to grow out whilst trimming the ends of your permed hair. Whilst the Big Chop involves cutting or shaving all of the permed hair off into a Teeny Weeny Afro (TWA). Having looked back on my hair journey, I wish I would have taken the leap of faith and cut off all my permed hair as now due to the texturised hairstyle I was wearing before my natural hair is at different lengths, the back of my hair when stretched sits in between my shoulder blades and the hair on the sides sit on my shoulder.
Due to the differences in lengths, I found it hard on a day-to-day basis to think of protective styles, which not only looked nice, but locked in moisture. And so to encourage my hair to grow and with the winter months starting, I decided to give my natural hair a break, and go for a protective style I had seen on friends and family.
Protective styling (when installed correctly) is an important aspect of a natural hair regimen. It is one of the most effective methods to minimise hair breakage as it protects the ends of hair, which is where a lot of damage occurs from becoming dry, bristly or crunchy. Protective styles can take many forms including,
bo-braids, cainrows/cornrows , weaves, braided upo-dos, wigs, space buns, bantu knots, twists and boxer braids, box braids. A protective style is a hair style that protects hair ends from everyday exposure to the elements, sun, wind and the cold air; it should take little to no heat or too much manipulation (combing, brushing, pulling) of the hair to create. As the cold months in the UK were approaching and after many weaves, I decided to try another protective style box braids.
Three weeks in and I am officially a box braid convert, for me the one pet hate I had when I wore weaves was that I could not reach every part of my scalp to moisturise it, especially when I had a closure which meant that the driest part of my hair (the crown) went with little to no moisture for two months. However, with box braids this is now longer an issue, I grease my scalp every night with a mixture of Jamaican Black Castor Oil and organic coconut oil and sleep with a satin head tie to keep the braids tidy.
Box braids are very low maintenance and an incredibly versatile hairstyle. As side from being a very manageable protective style, I love the aesthetics and history behind box braids. I take pride in knowing I am wearing a hairstyle that originated from Africa, as far back as 3500 BC, way before the likes of certain celebrities made them ‘new trends’.
Are you considering installing box braids? Read my pre-care tips below:
- Apply a pre-poo, a hot oil treatment done the night before a shampoo wash. I use organic coconut oil and cover with cling film or a plastic shower cap.
- Ensure hair has been washed, or co-washed with conditioner and cleansed thoroughly
- Apply a moisturising leave-in conditioner, I love to use Shea Moisture JBCO Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner because it smells like [insert], leaves my hair feeling soft and moisturised, without the crunchy feeling.
- Seal in the leave-in conditioner with a heavier carrier oil I tend to combine JBCO and organic coconut oil or virgin olive oil straight from the cupboard.
- Leave hair to air dry completely before installing your box braids.
What’s your favourite protective style and why?
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