Your hair doesn’t want to be any more stressed than you do. Enter: protective styling.
Protective styling has long been revered as a way to preserve healthy, curly hair. Here to give her personal take on protective styling and natural haircare is stylist to the stars, Naphia White. Naphia has styled Rihanna’s hair for Vogue as well as for feature films including Oceans 8 and Guava Island.
Here’s everything Naphia wants you to know about protective styling and keeping curly hair healthy.
What Is Protective Styling?
Protective styling is wearing your hair in a way that protects it from damage and encourages healthier, stronger hair. This is particularly helpful for dry curly hair types that are prone to breakage.
While many popular protective styles include twists, braids, buns, or knots, Naphia believes in giving hair even more freedom:
“Often when I say protective styling, people think that means adding a product or manipulating it in some sort of way,” Naphia tells us. “That’s not what I mean at all; I mean honoring your hair in its natural state.”
In other words? No braids, buns, scarves, or anything. She prefers leaving hair completely loose and free for the ultimate natural protective style. Why? Even loose braids, she reasons, can pull or tug at your hair and encourage breakage. If you do prefer to have your hair out of your face, Naphia suggests a loose, low ponytail instead.
Similarly, she encourages allowing the scalp to breathe instead of keeping hair covered too often in protective scarves or hats. Think of your hair a bit like a microbiome, if you will.
“You want to let that natural bacteria come and hit it,” Naphia encourages. “If it’s covered up all the time and it’s under a hat, or this, that, and the other, your hair becomes brittle. You need that healthy bacteria to hit the scalp. You want that!”
Other Practical Tips For healthy curly hair
Here are more tips from Naphia on keeping natural hair strong and healthy:
Invest In The Right Shampoo + Conditioner
Naphia suggests looking for restorative hair products that specifically call out formulations for stronger, thicker hair. Although many people tend to only seek these out when their hair starts feeling brittle, she recommends using them all the time as a preventative measure to keep natural hair moisturized and healthy.
Another pro tip? Naphia shares that, in her experience, a beauty supply shop may have more effective formulas than what’s available at the drugstore.
How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?
Don’t overdo it here! “Once or twice a week is all you need,” Naphia assures us. (For tips on how to make the most of your curly hair wash day, we have a dedicated post on that here.)
Not All Hairbrushes Are CReated Equal
A good hairbrush can help encourage strong and healthy hair by gently detangling and stimulating the scalp. By contrast, a bad brush can contribute to breakage.
“My favorite brush is a Denman paddle brush,” Naphia tells us. “Whether you have curly or straight hair, it stimulates your scalp. Then, as it glides through, it doesn’t break your hair, which is really important.”
How Often Should you Brush curly Hair?
Outside of traditionally protective styles such as braids or twists, Naphia recommends daily brushing.
“Just take two or three minutes to comb through it,” she says. “That’s it. Our hair is so precious. You’ve got to treat it like a baby.” Personally, she likes to brush her hair at night before bed.
Products to Use for Healthy Natural Hair
For naturally curly hair, she recommends adding a good leave-in conditioner along with a deep serum. For relaxed hair, again, a little serum and perhaps some Biosilk to help strengthen it. Then, just let it air dry and do its thing.
“I’m not saying you should never style your hair with heat or products or braids,” she elaborates. “I’m just saying when you have that time, let it get back to its natural state. Let it be strong and healthy as often as possible.”
Doing so, she promises, will not only make your hair stronger, overall, but also really help it shine and hold styles even more beautifully for those special occasions.
To see more of Naphia White’s hairstyling work, follow her on Instagram.