PROTECTIVE STYLES FOR HARMATTAN/WINTER

By Hadassah Agbaps - July 22, 2012


I just got a question from a newly natural sister on Facebook about what to do with your natural hair in winter.
 In Nigeria, which is located in the Subsaharan region of West Africa, we don't have four seasons like in the temperate regions. We only have two seasons. The wet and dry seasons.
The wet season is damp and humid while the dry season is of course dry and hot in the afternoon and very cold in the evening.
To answer her question somewhat, I would say it is safe to take the winter and harmattan seasons as similar save for the temperature differences. So, how does this translate in your natural hair care?

HARMATTAN/WINTER SEASON
Humidity - Low
Temperatures - Low

EFFECTS ON HAIR 
Drying out of hair strands.
Difficulty to maintain moisture.
Brittleness and breakage of hair strands.
Resurfacing of bird's nest syndrome. Hair easily feel like barb wires or scouring sponges....

PROTECTION AND CARE
During this cold period, it is understandable if you don't fancy those wash and go's of the summer / rainy seasons.
Who wants to be at risk of a frozen brain?!
So, here's what I do during this period.

- Co wash bi weekly with lukewarm water. I also use this time to deep condition my hair with a shower cap.
Then I rinse off about 90% and gently squeeze off excess water.

Without leaving the bathroom ( because it's warm and cosy ), I section my hair and coat each section first with a leave in conditioner and seal with a mixture of olive oil and Shea butter ( I used grease or vaseline back in the day but Shea butter works fine for me).

I also apply sheabutter and olive oil mix to my scalp cause unlike grease, it doesn't clog pores.

I then twist each section and allow to air dry ( which considering the weather take no time at all)!

Now because it's cold and all I just want to do is curl up under the blankets with hot cocoa and a good movie and my hair being the least of my worries,  I put my hair in long term protective styles that would still give me the opportunity to moisturise any time.

My go to styles are:

- Mini cornrows. I can easily moisturize hair and scalp plus there are loads of funky styles to choose from. Check out my protective styling post to view some.

- Kinky twists. Kinky twists with the kinky extensions have the advantage of lasting up to 2  months. The older they get, the more flexible they become giving you a range of styles.
The disadvantage is  that it can break your hair due to the roughness of the extensions ( you can minimise this by properly moisturizing your hair with an oil moisturiser to provide slip).
I don't really advise washing it because it causes matting of my hair but you can clean it with a wet cloth. Also, you may lose lots of hair during take down. One trick I use is to load up with oil moisturiser and then don a showercap for 15mins before takedown. It reduces breakage for me.

- Wigs. Wigs protect my hair but give me the option of taking it off when I want to moisturise my hair. Make sure you purchase a wig cap preferably satin to reduce friction between your hair and wig and also maintain moisture levels. It's also more hygienic as you can wash the cap often reducing the likelihood of fungal and bacterial infection. Make sure to also air your wig often.

- Weaves. Weaves are good but proper moisturizing is always a challenge so it's good to properly moisturise hair a day before installation. That way, hair would have completely absorbed the moisturiser avoiding greasiness. Shea butter is always my best friend in this case.

- Fingercoils. Great protective style as I am maintaining my hair just the way it wanted all along and that is coily. And since hair has to be properly moisturised to get the best results,it's a win win. Note..this is just for completely natural hair. You can't do it on transitioning hair cos of the relaxed bits unless you use straws.

- Flat ironing. Not the best method, I know but just hear me out...first the straightening lasts a long time with little or no reversion due to the dry weather. Second, I can easily oil the hair with conditioning coconut and olive oils and third, little breakage when combing out due to less kinks. When going down this route,  I always make sure I deep condition and protein treat my hair. Then I make sure I use thermal protectors to reduce damage.

- Chunky twists or braids with extensions. Easy to put in,easy to take down,hair outta my hands,what more can I say! 

And that's it...okay and don't forget to keep your conditioning spritz at hand for remoisturising your hair. Don't also forget your satin scarf or bonnet. It is a must under caps,hats or scarves to protect that poor thirsty hair....and oh...don't forget to oil your scalp. Use natural oils as they absorb better and don't clog pores.

We all have different ways to protect our tresses in winter and harmattan. I've shared mine,please do share yours too...

Till I spill again,
Live Beautifully.Naturally.
Hadassah


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