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October 16, 2018

Protective Styling for Your Hair and Your Baby’s Hair

SOCAH Center


The babies are back in school, and best believe, they went back in style! While you want those hairstyles to last, make sure their styles are conducive for lasting moisture, edges, and hair health. Take the same care for their hair! Here are some tips for selecting protective hairstyles!

Protective Styles

Some “Protective Styles” include adding extensions, twisting or brainding our natural hair, pinning up hair, or wearing scarves, but the goal is to style the hair in a way that ensures it is protected from tension, chemicals, heat, and the environment. In a protective style, little to no manipulation or maintainance need take place, and the hair will retain strength, moisture, and length.

Protective styling may sound like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, some “protective styles” actually fail to protect your hair and scalp from tension, changes in weather, product buildup, and manipulation caused by brushes, hair ties, pins, and more. Retaining your hair’s integrity and its strength, moisture, and length requires a few key steps prior to, during, and between styling. Below are some things to keep in mind when protective styling.

What to Avoid with Protective Styles

  1. Added Tension:

Adding hair on to your own may make hair too heavy for your follicles to support. If individual braids or sections of hair are hanging heavily, the scalp at its root is being tugged, causing tenting. Wearing ponytails, braids, or pins too tightly can have the same pulling effect. Eventually, this hair may break or the follicle may be pulled out causing trauma to the scalp. The scalp can heal the wounded follicle with scar tissue and no further growth will take place at that follicle.

  1. Changes in Moisture:

When braiding or twisting your hair, you should be careful the style allows your hair to dry after becoming wet. If the braids prevent the hair from drying, moisture and yeast can build-up on the scalp causing potential for fungi to grow and infection or dandruff to occur.

  1. Dryness and Buildup:

Any style you choose should be allowing for regular cleansing, conditioning, and moisturising every 1-2 weeks. The hairstyle should also allow for natural shedding meaning the hair should fall fairly freely and the scalp and hair ends should be accessible weekly

Styles that Don’t Protect

  • Synthetic hair adds tension pulling the hair away from scalp.
  • Styles pinned, braided, or pulled back may be securing hair to tightly.
  • Hair needs moisture prior to being styled. Protecting dry, unhealthy hair will not add health but may worsen hair’s condition.
  • Styles left it in too long inhibit hair and scalp from proper cleansing and moisturizing

For Healthy Scalp, Hair, and Edges

To make protective styling simple, remember a style that truly protects the hair and scalp should keep it safe from tension, chemicals, heat, and changes in moisture. A protective style will also let you access the scalp weekly or every couple of weeks to shampoo, condition, and moisturize it. With minimal manipulation and maintenance, regular cleansing, and moisturizing, your hair will retain its health

Other Hair Loss Conditions in Children

Certain hair styles can lead to breakage, dryness, scalp buildup, or loss of edges, and this is partly to blame for the hair loss epidemic and loss of edges showing earlier and earlier on in young girls. However, there are many other causes of hair loss in both adults and children that should not go untreated. Below are some other causes of hair loss that may be underlying symptoms like breakage, shedding, and dandruff in your little ones.

  • Nutritional deficiency – hair loss may be due to a deficiency in the following.
    • Vitamin H, or biotin, one of the B complex of vitamins, which helps the body to convert carbohydrates into glucose to fuel the body.
    • Zinc, an essential mineral involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism, growth and development.
    • Too much vitamin A.
  • Alopecia areata – the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles showing a sudden appearance of round patches of hair loss that are slick or smooth without scaling or broken hairs.
  • Trichotillomania – the pulling, plucking, twisting, or rubbing of hair into patchy and broken hairs of varying length. Patches are typically seen on the side of the child’s dominant hand and may be triggered by a stressor or anxiety.
  • Telogen effluvium – sudden or severe stress such as extremely high fever, surgery under general anesthesia, death of a loved one, severe injury, certain prescription medications can lead to a phase of extreme shedding.
  • Endocrine problems – in some children, the cause of hair loss is hypothyroidism where the thyroid is underactive producing insufficient thyroid hormones needed to regulate metabolism.
  • Tinea capitis – ringworm/fungal infection of the scalp appears as scaly oval patches of hair loss with hairs broken off at the surface of the skin like black dots on the scalp.

If you or your child shows signs of these hair loss conditions, itchy flaky scalp, or hair shedding and breakage, be sure to see your dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Dr. Nikki Hill, MD


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October 16, 2018