Here's My Perfect Strategy for Protective Styling.

Last month took the plunge and self-installed goddess locks as the first of many protective styles I plan to experiment with this summer.   I've been really hands-off with my hair lately.  So I decided that I need to officially put my hair away in hopes of giving it some much-needed rest. Hopefully, I'll be rewarded with some wonderful length retention.

A few weeks later, I removed the locs and did a quick mental assessment of how the experience turned out.  Overall, there were some pluses and minuses.  I'm ready to install a new set of goddess locs but this time, I'm doing things differently so I get the most out protective styling.
Obviously, one major benefit of protective styling is the time-saving element from not having to style daily.  But ultimately, we all want to retain a bit more length after weeks of hiding our hair.  Sometimes we just automatically assume that our hair will be longer when we remove the protective style.  But that isn't always the case.  Sure, our hair continues to grow the entire time, but sometimes our neglect can cause more harm than good.

This weekend, as I prepped my hair to be hidden away once again, I mentally created a list of what I'd be doing to maximize growth this time around.  Here it goes:

Shedding Control//
Anytime we take down a braided style, we can expect to see lots of shed hairs.  That's normal because it represents an accumulation of all the shedding that occurred while our hair was styled.   Although I expected it, I still was uncomfortable with the amount of hair I lost while detangling.  It's a shock! As  I looked down at the large number of shed hairs on the floor on wash day, I asked myself "is there something that I could do about this?"

Actually, there is.

After a few minutes of thought, I remembered that it's possible to lessen shedding via nutritional supplementation,  Specially MSM and Bamboo Tea.  MSM is a sulfur that is necessary for healthy hair.  One of MSM's claim to fame is its ability to affect hair shedding.  It does this by helping to extend the length of time the strand remains in the growth phase.  This is important because the more time our hair stays in the growth phase, the longer our strands can become.  Maybe I can manipulate how much hair I lose while protective styling simply by adding some powdered MSM to the water I drink every day. 

Along with MSM, I also plan on adding silica to the mix via bamboo tea.  Bamboo tea helps the hair in several ways but one benefit that I keep hearing over and over again is less shedding and thicker growth. 

That's exactly what I'm looking for.

Nurturing the Scalp//
My hair loves it when I protective style, but my scalp doesn't.  I made the mistake of pretty much leaving my scalp alone and I promise never to do that again.  My dermatitis kicked up big time causing areas of dry, itchy flakes.  To fix the situation I had to get creative. 

  • For moisture, I experimented with using my homemade hyaluronic acid serum directly on the driest areas of my scalp.  
  • To address flaking, I used a combination of applying apple cider vinegar to the areas where my skin irritated (this helps lower the pH of my scalp, helping to calm inflammation).
  • Finally, I applied a combination of coconut oil mixed with peppermint essential oil to soothe the scalp and promote healthy blood circulation.  
These tactics seemed to help.  My issue was that I completed neglected my scalp which is a big no-no.  Who knows, maybe if I take better care of my scalp this time around, it could help curb shedding too! 

Hair Hydration//
The one thing I did right was adequately moisturizing my hair before protective styling. When I took the locs out, my hair felt just as moisturized and hydrated as the day I braided it.  I was really impressed.  

Here's the three-step hydration process I followed:
  1. Used a leave-in conditioner blend that consisted of Biolage Leave-In Tonic, aloe vera juice, squalane and a little hyaluronic acid powder dissolved in water.   Applied the tonic using my favorite spray bottle of all time.
  2. Moisturize using Dudley's Moisture Retainer.  This stuff seems to help keep the hair hydrated for a long time.
  3. Seal with a homemade whipped shea butter mixture.  Shea butter is the perfect final step to this process.  My hair stayed hydrated forever.
That's my action plan for now.  All the important areas are addressed (scalp, the hair strand, moisture levels, and shedding).  If everything goes well, this should be my most perfect protective styling experience ever. 

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