It's sunny but very windy here where I live today. The wind put my mind to just one of the reasons that protective hairstyles are important for longer hair.
Many people with long hair wear it down all of the time, because they like it that way. I like to wear my hair down too, but wearing hair loose exposes longer hair to additional friction against one's clothes, being whipped by wind, and other wear and tear.
If you plan on growing your hair to mid-back or longer, it's a good idea to learn some easy protective hairstyles to wear not only most of the time, but especially when you're out in the elements.
We've all experienced those beautiful car rides in lovely weather, when the wind whips through our hair. It feels good, but in the end, there are a mess of tangles left in the hair, which can lead to breakage.
Then there are the more delicate areas of the hair. First of all, the ends are delicate and more fragile than the rest of the hair, as the ends are the oldest and have been exposed to the environment for longer. When you think about it, hair that doesn't yet quite graze the shoulder is already two years old at the very ends. On average, every six inches of growth beyond that represents another year.
So we must protect those ends from too much wear and tear.
Secondly, the top part of the hair that grows around the crown is also more fragile than the rest of the hair. We call this part of the hair the "canopy". It's the part of the hair that you use if you make a half-up hairstyle. It is the hair that is constantly exposed to sun and breezes if you're outdoors, and once again, it's the longest and therefore the oldest portion of your hair.
So we must protect the canopy as much as possible.
There are several ways in which you can contain and protect your hair that are quick and easy.
One way women have been protecting their hair for millennia is by wearing a simple, single braid. It's easy to do, keeps the hair out of the way, and is protective. If you don't like the idea of the braid rubbing against your clothes, you can wear a flipped braid as shown in my entry of April 26th, 2010.
Half-up hairstyles are perfect for when you want to still want to show your length but want to protect the fragile canopy hair. You can wear a half-up bun or braid of just about any style you like, and it will help protect the hair that has most been exposed to friction and the elements.
Updos are among the most protective hairstyles of all, and I recommend wearing them most of the time, if possible.
Even when hair is at shoulder length, it's not too soon to start doing protective styles. At shoulder length you may not be able to do a bun in your hair, but you will be able to make a French Twist, a Peacock Twist or a Gibson Tuck. This is also a great time to learn how to French Braid, if you don't already know how to do so. You can see examples of all of those styles in the Updos Gallery and the Braids Gallery on my website.
Half-ups can be done at any length as well, and are a wonderful way of not only protecting your hair, but of trying out updos that your hair may be too short for. See my Half-Ups Gallery for ideas.
I will eventually be giving instructions here on how to do most of the hairstyles shown on my website.
Now of course there will be times when you're going out that you really want to wear your hair down and loose, and that's fine. We all want to enjoy wearing our hair down from time to time. That's one of the reasons many of us want to grow it long.
Nevertheless, if you wear protective hairstyles most of the time, it will pay off with great rewards in the long run, giving you the freedom to wear your healthier-looking hair down for an afternoon or an evening out and even the occasional windy car ride. And everyone knows; you're never too old for that occasional windy car ride.