Summertime is almost here, but the living is not always easy. And, as a women of color, finding a warm-weather style solution can be somewhat of a challenge. Enter the magic bullet: protective styles, a quick solve for swimming, sweating, and all things summer.
“I define protective styles as hairstyles that don’t require much daily maintenance,” explains celebrity hairstylist, Nikki Nelms, who works with Janelle Monáe, Zoë Kravitz, Solange, and Kelly Rowland. “In turn, you can protect your hair from the daily usage of hot tools. I do recommend using human hair [for braiding] if you plan on leaving hair loose at the ends,” adds Nelms.
Lauded trichologist and natural hair care specialist, Dr. Kari Williams who works with Brandy Norwood, Meagan Good, and Eva Marcille, among others, takes it a step further. “It’s a big misconception that a ‘protective style ‘means you are wearing extensions, when in fact a ‘protective style’ is a style that protects your hair from regular manipulation or styling,” she explains. “Remember, this can include braids, twists and cornrow styles without the use of extensions.”
Whether you chose to rock what your mama gave you or enlist a little help, the following protective hairstyles can work for you this summer.
Slide to the Slide
We love traditional cornrows, but there’s something a bit sexier about side cornrows. “One great way to extend the life of braids is to get touch ups on the braids every three weeks,” explains celebrity curly textured expert and author of “Textured Tresses,” Diane Da Costa. “This will keep your braids looking fresh and extend the life of the style.”
When it comes to braids, consider two main rules. “Keep your edges hydrated, oiled, and moisturized—and keep tension at a minimum,” Nelms says. As tempting as it might be, tighter does not mean better, plus comes with a cost: thinning, breakage, and potentially traction alopecia.
Senegalese twists, Marley twists, Havana twists—Where do you even start? For starters, the names given to the variety of twists are often used to describe the type of hair used, size of the twists or technique. “When I am consulting with clients, I typically use the simple term ‘twists’ and get details from my client on the exact look they are going for so I can determine the type of hair to use, size and length,” explains Dr. Kari. “One twist is not better than the other, it is all based on preference.”
“Feed in” braids (I call them invisible braids) are different from regular cornrows with extensions because they don’t have a knot at the start of the braid and looks more natural,” explains Dr. Kari. “This technique is a healthier braid option because it allows the hair to grow out naturally, without the stress, tension and weight caused by the knot. It reduces incidents of breakage and hair loss when done properly.”
Goddess Faux Locs
Whether real (Willow Smith) or faux (Ciara and Rihanna), the women in music are making sure locs have a much deserved moment again.”Goddess Faux Locs are locs created using all human hair,” explains Dr. Kari. “They are more lightweight than regular faux locs and have a loose wavy end. The process is different from creating “regular” faux locs that are traditionally created with synthetic hair.”
Experiment with an up-do. “Braids can look fresh and new by applying a little pump of a foam like Jane Carter Solution Wrap and Roll before wrapping down with a silk scarf at night,” explains Da Costa. “Also, getting touch ups around the edges when the hair gets fuzzy and loose every three weeks.”
Consider this the perfect two-in-one style. “Divide your hair into four, six or 12 sections, then twist the each section into bantu knots (or min-buns),” explains celebrity hairstylist, Vernon Francois, who also created a namesake product line. “When you take them out, you’ll enjoy the extra definition in your curl pattern without the use of heat.”