African-American women who are opting to give up their chemically relaxed straight hairstyles in favor of wearing their natural kinky-curly hair texture are typically doing so with the idea that natural hair equals healthy hair. What is commonly referred to as the protective hairstyle is any hairstyle method done with the purpose of protecting the natural hair from chemical damage, heat damage and styling stress in general. Somewhat of a set-it-and-forget-it type rationale.
When attempting to go natural the fear that many black women have is that they won't know what to do with their natural hair texture, they don't want to lose any of their hair length or be called bald. So most of the hairstyles recommended as protective hairstyles originate from the idea of being able to have or maintain a more 'desirable' hair length and texture while still being able to have natural hair beneath it all.
Hairstyles such as braids, twists or locs using synthetic hair extensions, sew-in hair weaves, glued on lace front wigs or wig cap hairstyles are done to cover up all or most of your natural hair because the belief is that this creates healthier and faster hair growth.
As an alternative to the big chop the so-called protective hairstyle methods are widely recommended by other black women also going natural, or 'transitioning' and even by some hairstylists as a good way to transition to natural hair without having to cut off the previously relaxed hair.
Can you have your cake and eat it too with the popular so-called protective hairstyles? Here are the basic problems with many protective hairstyles.