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Low Manipulation Vs Protective Styles- What's The Difference

Low Manipulation Vs Protective Styles- What's The Difference

We all know natural hair requires a few basic things to stay happy– moisture, nourishment and a healthy hairstyle. Now, whether you're new to natural hair or you're a hair care veteran, you have likely heard that protective and low manipulation styles are the best for maintaining natural hair. Both hairstyles are amazing for natural hair, but it can be easy to get the two mixed up. Some might even think they mean the same thing. 

In this article we're clearing up the confusion once and for all and answering one of your most pressing questions styling questions. What is the difference between a protective style and a low manipulation style? Read ahead to find out.

What Is A Protective Style? 

Protective styles are hairstyles designed to keep the ends of your hair tucked away. The aim of protective styles is to keep the delicate ends of your hair from being exposed to friction, dryness, and over-manipulation that could result in breakage. They also help in reducing split ends and knots. This includes hairstyles like cornrows, two-strand twists, buns, Bantu knots and even weaves and wigs since they require most of the hair to be tucked in.



What Is A Low Manipulation Style?

As the name implies, low manipulation styles are focused on limiting the number of times you touch and style your hair. Since natural hair is prone to dryness and breakage when it is manipulated too often, low manipulation styles give you a look that can last at least 5-7 days, saving you the hassle of styling your hair every day. Wash n’ go's, twist outs, braid outs, pineapple updos, afro puffs, and low buns are all examples of low manipulation hairstyles. 



What Is The Difference Between Protective And Low Manipulation Hairstyles ?

Protective styles and low manipulation styles both help to maintain the health of the hair but the main difference between the two is the level of protection they offer. Protective styles keep the hair fully tucked in and offer optimal protection from any environmental factors that could expose your hair to damage. Low manipulation styles on the other hand are not particularly focused on protecting the ends or tucking the hair away, they simply aim to help you reduce excessive styling and manipulation of your hair.  

Additionally, protective styles also generally last longer since the hair stays tucked away, reducing the amount of frizz you get. Most protective styles can last for 2-5 weeks while low manipulation hairstyles can only last for about a week or two.



Low Manipulation Vs Protective Style: Which Is Better?

Protective styles and low manipulation styles both provide great benefits for the hair, but the ideal choice will depend on your personal preference, hair goals, and the general state of your hair. 

If you have a lot of split ends or fairy knots, protective styles will help minimise the damage on your ends and prevent further breakage. Protective styles are also a great choice for people who want long-lasting hairstyles that will save them the stress of frequent styling sessions. They are also perfect for anyone on a hair growth journey as they keep your hair safe from breakage while you retain the length of hair growing out of your scalp. 

However, if your hair is mostly healthy and you love experimenting with different hairstyles but simply want to keep your hands out of your hair for a little while, low manipulation is the way to go.  



How To Care For The Hair When Protective Or Low Manipulation Styling:

1. Cleanse The Hair:

Whether you are doing a protective style or a low manipulation style, it's essential to cleanse your hair properly before styling to produce the best result. Using a shampoo like Sofnfree's Hydration Shampoo will remove any buildup of oil and dirt from your scalp while keeping the hair hydrated. If you are wearing a protective style that will last several weeks, wash your hair every 2-3 weeks to keep the scalp clean and prevent product buildup.  

You do not have to take down your protective style to wash your hair. Simply apply our shampoo directly to your scalp and gently scrub the scalp while avoiding the rest of the hair. After washing, rinse the scalp and pat the hair dry with a microfiber towel. 

 2. Condition The Hair:

Conditioning the hair with Sofnfree's Moisture Rich Conditioner is also essential as it will replenish your hair with moisture and smoothen your strands in preparation for the styling process. You can also deep condition the hair with our Manuka Honey & Avocado Deep Conditioning Mask to give it a more intense nourishment treatment that will help soften and hydrate the strands while improving their overall shine. 

3. Always Moisture:

Moisturising the hair before styling your and in-between hairstyles is very important for preventing dryness and frizz. Use our Manuka Honey Leave-in Conditioner to moisturise and soften your hair during the styling process. Then spray our Everyday Curl Refresh 2-3 times a week to rehydrate the hair. This is especially important if you are wearing long-term protective styles that require the hair to be tucked away for several weeks. You have to moisturise the hair to avoid breakage when you are ready to take down the hairstyle. 

After moisturising your hair, be sure to seal in the moisture with our Hair and Scalp Oil. 

4. Don't Neglect The Scalp:

It is also very important to ensure your scalp is properly hydrated and nourished to prevent dryness and itching. Apply some of our Strengthening Oil 1-2 times a week to keep the scalp healthy while strengthening the hair follicles. 

5. Avoid High Tension Hairstyles:

In order to actually reap the benefits of protective and low manipulation hairstyles, you have to avoid placing too much tension on the scalp. This is very important as excess tension can weaken the hair strands and result in breakage and hair loss. So, avoid buns, puffs, braids or cornrows that are extremely tight.  

Here is a general rule of thumb to follow: if a style is so tight that your scalp hurts or you are getting a headache, then it is not healthy for your hair. 

6. Use The Right Styling Products:

To achieve the best results with your hairstyles, it is extremely important to use the right styling products for your natural hair. Instead of using products with harsh ingredients that can dry out your hair and leave a crunchy feel, opt for Sofnfree's nourishing and hydrating stylers. You can use our Curl Elongating Gel for your low manipulation hairstyles or grab our Flaxseed Oil & Rosewater Mousse for your protective styles. 

7. Protect The Hair At Night:

To protect your hair from friction that could result in breakage and dryness, it is crucial to cover your hair with a silk or satin scarf before you sleep at night. You can also use a satin bonnet. 

Protective styles and low manipulation are clearly two amazing powerhouses when it comes to styling and maintaining the health of your curls. However, both styles offer different perks. Protective styles provide long-lasting defence against breakage and manipulation, whereas low manipulation styles offer comfort and easier installation time. Ultimately, both hairstyles will keep your curls looking stylish and safe from damage, but the ideal choice will be determined by your personal preference.  

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