Are Protective Hairstyles Really Protecting Black Hair?

Hairstyles such as box braids, cornrows, and weaves have long played an essential role in Black haircare and styling. These techniques are widely understood to minimize the likelihood of damage and breakage from the over-manipulation of our hair when leaving it “out”. However, these particular styles have only been referred to as “protective” in more recent years. As many of us know, hair is a huge part of Black culture and a symbol of creative expression, freedom, and identity. Various braiding and styling techniques can be traced back thousands of years and remain popular today. From Bantu knots (the small buns created by twisting hair in on itself, said to have originated with the Zulu tribes) to braids (once used to identify someone’s wealth, age, religion, and even marital status), these styles aren’t just about the protection of natural hair.

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