Anyone who has ever had a protective style (aka twists, braids, or wig) knows that it can get a little, well, itchy under there. We love that protective styling is a sure way to let our locks grow healthily and safe from shedding, but how do you stop your braids from itching? Because an itchy scalp should never stand in between you and the mane of your dreams, we reached out to the braiding queen and Global Artistic Director of Amika, Naeemah LaFond, for her tips on avoiding an itchy scalp while wearing protective styles. Read her expert advice below!
Start Squeaky Clean
The best way to prevent an itchy scalp when rocking a protective style is to avoid product buildup. “Between installing protective styles, deeply cleanse your scalp to ensure that your pores are breathing and staying healthy,” recommends Naeemah. “I love using the Amika Reset Exfoliating Jelly Shampoo ($25) for a deep cleaning of the scalp prior to any protective styles.” Think of the exfoliation as a must, it’s the same as cleaning your brushes before doing your make-up—you want to start with a clean slate to get the best results, especially when your hair follicles are at stake.
Remove Your Style On Time
Though protective styles alone don’t have any negative impact on the scalp, how you take care of the hair when it’s braided is crucial. “I think that the improper maintenance and installment of protective styles is where it can go wrong,” notes Naeemah. One really easy way to prevent this is by taking your style out when you’re supposed to and not leaving it in for longer. Even holding out just a little bit can contribute to unnecessary damage. “If a style is meant to last four weeks, then keeping it in for an additional two or three weeks can compromise the integrity of the scalp. Styles that have too much tension and are tight on the scalp can extend the life of the style but wreak havoc on your scalp and your edges,” she explains. So if you really want to avoid itchy braids, make sure you don’t keep them in for too long.
Ultimately, the life of a protective style really depends on how it was installed and your type of hair. “Some braids can last four weeks on one client where they only last two weeks on another,” adds Naeemah. There are a ton of factors that contribute to how long a style can last, including hair growth, hair type, lifestyle, and also the skill level of your stylist. “A stylist can best advise on the duration of a protective style during a consultation,” she says. Pay attention to that end date.
Soothe Your Scalp
To prevent an itchy scalp (for a protective style or not) Naeemah reaches for Amika Phantom Hydrating Dry Shampoo Foam ($25). “It’s perfect for absorbing oils and buildup,” she says. Again, she makes sure the scalp is tingly fresh using the Amika Reset Exfoliating Jelly Shampoo, which she says “is great for purifying, rebalancing, and soothing an itchy scalp.”
Of course, washing protective styles is an option, though you have to take into consideration the hours you’re going to be spending under the dryer. In other words, clear your calendar. Skipping out on drying time is seriously not an option. “You never want to leave the natural hair under protective style damp or wet because it can attract bacteria and mold,” Naeemah cautions.
Protective styles offer some of the best options for hair looks out there, just make sure you get your scalp right and never put maintenance on the back burner.
Want to really protect your scalp while wearing protective styles? Be sure to use THESE products underneath any look you try!
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