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If you had to classify me as relaxed, natural or transitioning I would fall into the latter category. Transitioning is a between phase for those growing out their relaxer and no longer chemically treating their tresses. My last application was early August 2010, almost 8 months ago. As someone who lived in a box of Optimum Care no-lye relaxer and looked forward to a retouch this has been a challenging, yet significant journey for me.

I wear my hair straight on most occasions and in the beginning I was quite frustrated getting my roots straight. When I craved a more natural, curly look the two textures of my hair refused to play well and resulted in beautiful coils and waves met with straight uncooperative tresses.

Until I could get a handle on my hair, I decided to go back to basics and try some popular protective styles. Since I was in the transition phase of my hair journey during the winter months, many of these hairstyles came in handy, giving my strands much needed moisture to combat a dry, harsh season.

I visited some of my favorite beauty supply store and web sites to arm myself with some of my favorite key products. I like good, heavy moisturizers and leave-in conditioners that provide a protective coat and keep my hair moist and soft throughout the day. My staple products include Salerm 21 Leave-in conditioner, Mizani Rose H20 Conditioning Hairdress and Pantene’s Daily Oil Cream Moisturizer from their Relaxed and Natural line.

The key to a protective style is moisture, moisture, moisture along with keeping your ends sealed and protected. Here are some of my favorite hairstyles. Also, see the photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

1.      Updo

A nice sweeping bang and a hair comb work wonders when I can’t get my roots straight and I want to keep my ends moist and protected. I like to roll my hair overnight with a good moisturizer then in the morning gently brush my hair upwards to the center of my head and pin the ends underneath, keeping them protected.

2.      Instant Weave (look for a future post on how to select, wear and maintain an instant weave)

The hair at my crown provides a nice bang and disguises my instant weave or half wig while the bulk of my real hair hides underneath, moist and protected. I recommend a thin head cap or skully as the netting under an instant weave can irritate and break dry, brittle hair.

3.      Wash ‘n go

It’s not as simple as it sounds but it’s one of my favorites because there’s absolutely no heat involved. Shampoo and condition your hair then apply your favorite leave-in to very damp hair section by section. I prefer to use Salerm 21 Leave-in Conditioner. Comb hair from crown to end, applying an ample amount of product to your hair. To keep your ends protected pull hair into a pony tail or you can opt to wear it down and let it air dry and coil on its own.

4.      Fake Ponytail (aka Phony Pony)

I love the phony pony when done right. I prefer buying long tracks of hair often used for weaves instead of the manufactured ponytails. I pull my real hair into a ponytail, leaving out my bangs, some strands on the side and kitchen. I slick the ends of my real hair down with a good moisturizer then wrap the tracks carefully around my ponytail. I secure the phony pony with a bobby pin. With a paddle brush I slick the pieces of my real hair previously pulled out and use another band (covered in cloth preferred to prevent breakage) to cover the tracks of the phony pony. This makes the phony pony look a little more authentic. The real key is finding synthetic or human hair that matches your texture and hair color.

5.      Bun

When all else fails, I slick my hair back into a ponytail with a good creamy moisturizer such as Mizani Rose H20 and create a flower bun with the help of bobby pins.

I’m always looking for ideas. Please share your protective hairstyle in the comments or tell me what you think about the ones featured in this post.

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