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Try These Protective Hairstyles and Habits to Help Your Hair Thrive

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Mizzou chapter.

If you weren’t blessed with tough hair that doesn’t snap in half or fall out when you tug on it, then you’ve come to the right place. Unlike other genetically-blessed women whose hair can withstand the force of as many tight high ponies as they please, there are the women who find themselves with thinning spots and constant breakage after just one high pony. I am that kind of woman. After over a decade of dance competitions and gobs of hair gel and spray, tightly-pulled ponies and buns are all I know. Even after I left those dancing days behind, I still remain incredibly active and my competitive nature pours out of me in every 6:00 a.m. workout. The only complimentary hairstyle that is fit for such a lifestyle has been carried over from my competition days, and along with it, hair loss and thin spots where there’s more pale skin than brunette hairs. No amount of biotin shampoo can save my hair alone.

Enter, protective hairstyles. These hairstyles are meant to put the least amount of stress on the roots of your hair while also reducing breakage that comes from friction. These styles can be worn at any time of the day and are even recommended to be worn when you sleep!

The Rope Braid

First, begin with freshly detangled hair. Throw in a scalp massage to promote circulation (and just because it feels really good). As if you were about to braid your hair like normal, take your hair and separate it into two sections. Grab one section, twist it all the way down and repeat on the other section. Then, twist the two twisted sections together and tie them off. Boom. Rope braid. And as a bonus for wearing this to sleep, you might just wake up with mermaid-like waves.

The Loose Top Bun

This style works well for all hair lengths, so if you find yourself unable to twist your hair into a rope braid, try the loose top bun instead. As simple as the name suggests, all you have to do is twist your hair into a bun on top of your head, but not too tight that it’s pulling at your scalp too much. Then secure it with a soft scrunchie or a claw clip and you’re done!

The Low Bun

This style is a personal favorite of mine when I work out. It still gives me the slicked-back aesthetic without pulling too much on my hair and causing a headache. What I also like about this hairstyle is how customizable it is. You can pull it as tight or as loose as you want to and you can even braid your hair and then wrap it into a bun. Add gel or hairspray to lay down fly-aways or pull out face-framing strands to keep it natural.

The Low Pigtails

Once again, the simplicity of this hairstyle is in the name. But once again, it can be jazzed up to add more to your look for the day. Part your hair in half down the back of your head and bring the sections over the front of your shoulders. Secure each section loosely with gentle elastics or continue the section into a braid. Take it even further and pull the sections into loose buns.

Some Protective products to add to your routine

Now that we have our bases covered with how to wear your hair with as little stress as possible, there are habits you can adopt into your lifestyle to further promote healthy hair and work to achieve the hair of your dreams.

A good hairbrush

Your hair is begging for you to invest in a good quality hairbrush. We all love our Wet Brushes, but sometimes we need a little more. The answer? It depends on your hair type. For curly hair, seek out detangling brushes with flexible bristles or Denman brushes to help shape your curls as you go. For straighter hair or hair with a bit more wave to it, pick up a boar bristle brush to detangle and smooth away frizz by distributing the scalp’s natural oils. Or of course, stick with the reliable all-around Wet Brush that can be used on both wet and dry hair and even wigs!

A good hair mask

A good hair mask is like a tall glass of water in the blistering heat. It brings your hair back to life with shine and smoothness while working to hydrate and prevent further damage. Much like picking out a hairbrush for your hair type, you pick a hair mask for its special properties. There are endless varieties with different benefits for different hair types. Spa nights are never complete without a hair mask to give you soft and healthy strands to style. If you’re looking for a mask to pack on the hydration, try an argan oil mask from OGX or a jojoba seed oil mask from Amika. If you’re looking to revamp your curly texture, try out this moisturizing SheaMoisture hair mask. if you find yourself with damaged hair beyond repair, try out a repairing protein mask like this one from Olaplex.

Swap your cotton pillowcases for silk or satin

Not only does sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase make you feel like sleeping beauty, but it’s also incredibly beneficial for your hair. Unlike the regular old cotton pillowcase, silk and satin pillowcases reduce friction and allow the hair to slip around which decreases the friction and tugging, says Jessie Cheung, a certified dermatologist.

“By swapping your cotton or flannel pillowcases for a satin variety, you could cut down on hair frizz and breakage and keep your skin smooth and hydrated,” according to Healthline.

Silk pillowcases can be found in all types of colors and textures. Add a little luxury to your sleeping space while keeping your hair healthy.

Dial down the heat

You should try to go au natural and put down the styling tools as much as possible. In addition, try and keep the heat in the shower to a minimum. As much as I love a scalding hot shower to wash away a bad day, my hair does not. When you need to wash your hair, try and keep the shower temperature down to a lukewarm temperature and finish off your shower with a splash of cold water. Use masks or deep conditioning treatments while you wash and crank up the heat on days your hair doesn’t to be washed. Just don’t burn yourself. When it comes to hot tools, one study found that holding your blowdryer at least 15 centimeters away and moving it continuously resulted in less heat damage. When you do find yourself picking up your curling iron, prep your hair with a good heat protectant like this one from Kenra Professional.

Use these products and rely on protective hairstyles for healthier hair this spring and summer. By combining these protective styles and products, you can see your hair meet its best potential.

Sydney Scalia is a junior at the University of Missouri studying Journalism with a minor in Italian. She specializes in writing pieces about fashion and style, fitness, lifestyle, and culture such as travel, entertainment, and social media.