Growth & Retention

My Personal Protective Style Challenge

If you’re anything like me, by the time the end of the year rolls around you’ve probably started slacking on some of your hair goals.  That’s why when October arrived I decided to take an active approach to my hair care and I created a personal protective style challenge for myself.  What better motivation to finish the year strong than to participate in a protective style challenge.

Why Create a Personal Protective Style Challenge? 

Challenges are a great way to introduce discipline into your hair care routine, especially when you are having trouble achieving a particular goal. 

When I identify my goals and the steps that I must take to achieve them, I have a road map to success.  Over the course of the next three months, this road map will help me to significantly reduce breakage to my hair while at the same time improving its health.

From A to 4z length check by pulling on nape hair

My Considerations for This Personal Protective Style Challenge

In order to successfully achieve my hair retention goal I need to do the following:

1. Extend the amount of time that I wear my protective hairstyles.  By reducing the number of times that I restyle my hair, I will reduce the amount of manipulation that my hair experiences over the duration of the month.  For me, less manipulation equals less breakage;

2. Cleanse my hair on a regular basis so that I don’t experience excessive buildup or dryness on my scalp or hair.  My hair loves water and weekly washes help me to maintain moisture levels;

3. Find a way to better protect the ends my hair from regular damage.  My hair is vulnerable to breakage when my ends are exposed in any way.

Establishing the Regimen for My Personal Protective Style Challenge

Figuring Out the Timing

The first thing that I need to do is to decide on a routine for styling and washing my hair for the duration of the challenge.  My first thought was to wear one hair style for three months straight.  However, I quickly realized that a solid three-month stretch with one hair style wouldn’t be realistic for me to achieve success.  First, my hair would mat if I regular washed my hair without detangling it every few weeks.  Second, I don’t think that I have the willpower not to style my hair for a three-month duration.  I know that I would want to be able to run my fingers through my hair, even if it were infrequently. 

What I’ve decided is that instead of maintaining one style for a single stretch I will wear one hairstyle for four weeks before refreshing it.

Styling

Medium two and three strand twists seem like the best option for me to wear during this challenge.  I find twists easy to install and to take down, even after several washes. 

The twists will have to be tight (i.e. tightly compacted) so that they last longer, but I must be careful not to twist my roots tightly so that I don’t induce shedding or hair loss.  I also plan on alternating between braiding and twisting my roots. 

Selecting Cleansers

Braided roots allow the twists to last longer, however, they can be more difficult to cleanse if I’m using thicker, more viscous hair washes, such as clay washes.  Therefore, over the next few weeks, I need to come up with alternative solutions for cleansing my hair.

As much as I love clay washes, healing clays have the potential to get stuck between my braids.  This can be detrimental to my hair and scalp if I’m maintaining a long-term protective styling regimen.  Water, on the other hand, can pass through braids quite easily.  Even though I water wash my hair from time-to-time, I don’t want to wash my hair in this way for the next three months.   I need to find cleansing options that had the same consistency as water so that the cleanser can easily pass through braids if I decide to braid my roots.  These types of cleansers will be the backbone of my hair washing routine over the next 12 weeks.

The cleansers that I select must also be “natural” and have little to no synthetic ingredients in them.  Therefore, diluted shampoo will not make the grade.  Ideally, I’d like to develop a cleansing regimen that is as natural as possible.  Herbs and other natural ingredients will be my starting point.

Maintenance

The final element for success in my personal protective style challenge is to baby my ends.  Normally, when I install two strand twists I’ll wear my hair in a bun to keep my ends tucked away.  However, I tend to take the bun down in the evenings or before going to sleep.  I suspect that this may be too much manipulation for my hair.  Installing bantu knots on the ends of my hair takes care of this problem, but only temporarily, as I find that the knots tend to unravel when I moisturize my twists.

To counteract this, each week I will thread my twists using the African threading method.  African hair threading is a great way to keep my hair stretched, especially after washing my two strand twists.  I find that the amount of frizz that I experience is cut down when I thread my twists.  I’ll also pay extra attention to how I thread the ends of my hair so that my ends have added protection.

Ready, Set, Go!

Developing a concrete plan of action might seem like a lot of work, but I find it helpful for identifying the weak points are in my current hair practices and figuring out what I need to do to get back on track.  Three months of regimented protective styling will be a challenge, but in the end, I feel that a personal protective style challenge is what my hair needs to thrive.

Have you ever undertaken a personal protective style challenge?

About Author

Hi, I’m Janice also known as From A to 4z! I’m a natural hair enthusiast from Canada and I’m on a quest to grow and maintain long and healthy type 4 hair.

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