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5 ADHD-Friendly Protective Styles for Black Folk

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I’ve written before about some of the struggles I encounter having natural hair and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The biggest challenge is all the steps and processes that I have to go through in order to just wash and prep my hair. It doesn’t matter what your hair type is. When you don’t take care of your hair, it can matte and become harder to take care of. That being said, having natural hair means that those tight fragile kinky coils need some extra tender love and care, or else they will form dreadlocks, get tangled in your sheets, or worse.

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We utilize protective styles to protect our very sensitive tresses, but honestly protective styles are also great for Black folk with ADHD because it means we physically touch our hair less (albeit moisturizing and whatnot). Protective styles have been key for making my natural hair ADHD-friendly, even if they can be a bit more time or money consuming. A lot of these styles only work with my ADHD if I set up an appointment to get it done (because I did not get the braiding gene), but still, the long term payoff really does help overall.

1. Box braids

Knotless, goddess, bob length, mid back, you name it. You can attempt to do them yourself, but if you’re me you prefer to get them professionally done (by a braider who will actually wash your hair and blow it out and not up-charge you for breathing). Without a touch up they can last around four to six weeks, but I’ve definitely stretched these babies out to eight weeks before.

2. Anything crocheted

What I love about crochet styles is that they’re much quicker than traditional looks, and also a lot easier to take down. Almost anything you can do with bundles or wefted hair, they make a crochet alternative. You can make crochet last from four to eight weeks, and it’s also a lot easier to get them replaced in case your ADHD doesn’t like sitting in the chair for as long a period.

3. Ponytails

Slicking it back, adding a bayang, and putting a ponytail on that jawn is sometimes my favorite thing to do, especially if it’s a clip in, drawstring, or any other temporary install that you can do at home. The hardest thing for me is blow drying my hair, but all things considered it’s still easier than doing a full head of two strand twists, only to take them out and have to re-twist your hair all over again. This is a daily style, but if you keep your hair prepped you can keep doing it at least for a few weeks before having to do a touch up.

4. Wigs (kinda)

OK, let me preface this with I’m not a wig girly in the sense that I’m great with doing a proper install where you can’t see any lace whatsoever. Instead, I have grocery store wigs, as I call them. They’re synthetic wigs that if you treat them nice, they don’t look like you got them at a BOGO sale at the local beauty supply (which I did). If I do decide to twist or braid down my hair, I’ll slap one of these babies on and throw a hat or beanie on top. This way my hair is protected, but it’s also low maintenance and removable that same night. This only lasts for a day, but it’s easy to do it again the next day so it works!

5. If it’s the fall, winter, or early spring, a silk press.

I love me a silk press. You don’t get it. I’m this close to relaxing my natural hair because lately I’ve been so in love with the ease that comes with straighter hair. I love my hair, but being able to brush and go? Wrap it at night and keep it moving? I’m actually more motivated to do daily hair prep if my hair is pressed out. It’s easier, even if I do have to avoid sweat, the rain, and any water at all costs. The only downside, outside of humidity being our biggest enemy, is that it usually only lasts around two weeks. It’s worth it though, and typically cheaper than some of the other styles on this list.

These are my favorite ADHD-friendly protective styles, due to the length of time you can keep them in and/or how minimal the maintenance is when you have them. Regardless, just remember to wear your bonnet and grease your scalp to keep your hair healthy.

Getty image by LaylaBird

Originally published: August 17, 2022
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