One of the greatest things about Black hair is protective styling. I can braid, twist, or cornrow my hair into any look and not have to deal with my hair for days — if I’m using extensions, for months. I am currently rocking marley twists. This is the first time I’ve ever sported this look and honestly, it’s been a love/hate relationship so far.
My birthday was last month, and I wanted a cool and sexy look for my 27th celebration (I’m a grown ass woman after all). I discovered marley twists a few years ago while surfing Tumblr and yhe style has always given me “I’m a moody sexy vegan blvck artist” vibe. Sometimes I believe I fit that description (spoiler: I don’t.)
Anywho, I was tempted to go the DIY route and install some intentionally messy, cool-girl, Solange-esque twists, but everyone kept telling me to just go the salon. Six hours and one hundred and sixty mother-flying dollars later, I left a Harlem African braiding salon with about 10 pounds of hair on my head. I was pissed. My neck hurt.
I'd told the hairdresser I wanted thick braids, but I ended up looking like a lion. While I kept telling her to not install too many twists, she kept telling me not to worry. By the time I left the salon, I had so much hair on my head that my peripheral vision was gone.
After a night spent sleeplessly trying to ignore the synthetic mountain on top of my head, I got in touch with my hairdresser and asked for a redo. When I got to the salon, she kept insisting that my hair would “flatten out over time," but she did remove and redo most of my twists. I can happily say that the heaviness of my head went down 50% and I enjoyed my birthday without toppling over.
It’s been about a month now. The heaviness is still annoying and I miss my afro, but I have issues letting go of protective hairstyles. Despite the weight that rests on my shoulders, I love the way my twists look. This sounds grossly vain, but it’s not just about appearance. Having extension twists also affords me days of never having to do my hair! I wake up with an instant hairdo every single time. Even washing my hair is a breeze, because I don’t have to go through a process of deep conditioning and styling. Though I miss my mane, I’m just not ready to commit to afro responsibilities.
I know I said it’s only been a month, but apparently this style ages quickly (plus I suck at taking care of 10 pounds of fake hair). The freshness has expired, the twists are frizzy, and my new growth is coming in skrong (not a typo). I searched the interwebs for ideas on how to spruce up this mop, but to my dismay hair bloggers only give inspiration for freshly done looks, not old dusty ones (#despair). Thank goodness for my imagination, because I've found the following four ways to make the most out of old protective hairstyles.
Freestyle High Updo (baby hair included)
Surprisingly, this hairdo does not feel any heavier than it does when worn down. In fact, I feel a bit lighter because my hair is completely out of the way. I really don’t have a solid instructional for this because I just kept twisting and knotting my hair until it made itself into a bun.
With the look pictured above, I made a bun out of the middle section of twists then, I wrapped the perimeter twists around it. Be creative with this freeform style. Also, don’t forget the baby hairs! An old protective hairstyle means a lot of flyaways. Keep them under control by applying some gel and brushing down with an old toothbrush.
If your edges are a hot mess, just wrap it up. You can go Janet Jackson style and do a high ponytail with a thick headband, or you can rock a turban. There are so many ways to style with a scarf.
In this photo (see left), I've wrapped the scarf around my entire head — leaving out the twists in the front.
Carefree Black Girl
Oh, this dishevelled frizz look is totally intentional. I literally woke up like this. I don’t care about frivolous things like slick edges and salon appointments. My mind, body, and soul are just too connected with Mother Universe to even care about such things. I’m just going to light a spliff, indulge in some cocoa butter, and adorn my glorious twists with some beads.
All The Way To The Side
This is the best way to hide your frizzy new growth. Just toss all of your hair to the side and mind those edges with a little gel. I love this look because it keeps most of my hair out of the way and it’s ridiculously simple.
Each time I pull off one of these looks, I hang on to my twists a little tighter. The hairstyles totally refresh my whole look. The best thing about old braids or twists is that they get more flexible over time, allowing for endless styling.
I’m interested in learning other ways to keep old protective hairstyles looking cute and fresh. Let me know your tips and tricks in the comments below!