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How to Use Wigs As a Protective Style For Natural Hair Growth

As temperatures continue to drop, and the outside air gets more brisk and dry, you might be considering a winter protective style.

However, if you’re nervous about booking an appointment — especially considering the fact that experts expect COVID-19 numbers to rise in the upcoming months — wigs are a great option for protective styling for anyone who may want to skip the salon.

Keep in mind, though, that not all wigs are created equal, and even if you already have your own collection of hair, you will also need to take care of all that natural hair underneath. Or else you could end up doing much more harm than good.

So whether you’re a beginner or a veteran wiggie, we’re blessed have celebrity hairstylist and author of Get Out Of Your Own Way, Monae Everett on speed dial to answer all of your questions on how to carefully use wigs as a protective style.

Hey, remember when we said not all wigs are created equal? Everett agrees.

“Full human hair wigs are my preference for wigs used for protective styling,” she shares. “It will allow all of your hair to be protected, rather than [having leave-out] to be styled and blended in with the wig.”

Your wig, your choice. But just be sure to not damage your leave-out hair by using too much heat.

“When using a U-part wig or half wig, roller set your leave-out and smooth down your edges,” Everett suggests. “I use Sebastian Mousse Forte for any of my roller sets, twist sets, or smoothing sets. It has a heat protectant and helps to blend your natural hair and wig together.”

To shop: $14; walmart.com

Much like traditional protective styles, braids and twists are your best bet — but make sure they’re done loosely to prevent any unnecessary tension, which can cause damage to both the hair and scalp (more on this in a minute).

And yes, in this instance, size does matter. “Smaller cornrows allow the wig to lay flatter to the head,” says Everett.

Also, don’t get it twisted. Just because your hair won’t be out in the world, doesn’t mean you can skip wash day. It’s still a vital part of your routine, even if your natural strands are covered.

“To keep your hair clean, healthy, and moisturized, shampoo your natural hair no less than every seven to 10 days,” the stylist advises, adding that the hair should be completely dry before placing a wig over top. Otherwise, you could end up with mildew growth — and that mildew smell — on both the hair and scalp. So yeah, yikes. 

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“Traction alopecia is caused by the hair being pulled too tightly,” the stylist explains. “Sometimes people will braid the hairline too tight and it will cause the area to become sore. Some people develop little white bumps or a swollen scalp. These are sure signs that your braids are too tight and need to be redone with less tension. Adding a wig on top of the sore and irritated scalp can cause the hairline to become damaged and possibly break.” 

With the dumpster fire was 2020, we really do not need yet another thing to snatch our edges right off our scalp, especially when it’s totally avoidable. So let’s try to leave traction alopecia behind as we move further into 2021. 

“The best way to avoid traction alopecia is to literally braid more gently,” Everett says. “Braiding and cornrowing do not have to be painful. Remember that it is an old wives tale that braiding hair tighter allows the style to last longer.” 

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we’re celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

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