Protective hairstyles like braids, twists, and even faux locs, are a great option for giving your hair a break from styling (which can sometimes lead to over-manipulation). Plus, while your hair chillaxes in a long-term style, it has the opportunity to grow without interruption. For most naturals, a month or two of protective styling results in a few extra inches in length, but also (unfortunately) breakage.
The key to maintaining healthy hair during and after a protective style is moisture. Breakage comes from dehydration. As long as you properly keep your strands coated in rich and nutritious moisturizer, you’re mane will survive. Follow the tips below to ensure that your hair not only flourishes during your protective style, but also stays strong after the take-down.
TIP 1: PREP YOUR HAIR FOR PROTECTIVE STYLING
Before you install that kanekalon, make sure that your real hair is in tip-top shape. Give your mane a full-on spa day: pre-poo, shampoo, conditioner, deep-conditioner or hot oil treatment, and a deeply hydrating L.O.C. You never want to install a protective style on old, dirty hair. Start fresh, start moisturized.
TIP 2: DON’T GO TOO TIGHT
This tip is super important, especially if you’re getting your hair done at a salon. Tell your stylist to not braid in your edges. Too much pulling and tension, especially on our delicate edges, will lead to disaster.
TIP 3: NURTURE YOUR PROTECTIVE STYLE
Just because you don’t have to style everyday, doesn’t mean hair maintenance goes out the window. Care for your hair they way you would any other time. Sure, washing box braids and twists can turn your neat slick style into fuzz and frizz. You can avoid messing up your look by just focusing on your scalp and gently cleansing your real strands (in case you added hair to your protective style).
- Cleanse your scalp by using shampoo wipes, baby wipes, or by spraying and massaging your scalp with diluted apple cider vinegar and gently rinsing under the shower. ***If your hair isn’t covered in any added hair, you’d only need to do this step.
- Cleanse your real hair by smoothing out conditioner onto your braids (or twists) and gently rinsing under the shower. If your protective style is loose hair, very gently wash the hair to avoid shedding.
- Moisturize your real hair and scalp but spraying a conditioning mist on a frequent basis.
- Sleep in a satin bonnet to prevent frizz and hair damage
As long as your scalp and real hair maintain moisture, you’ll avoid flakes, dryness, and of course, breakage.
TIP 4: GENTLY TAKE DOWN
Your hair is really delicate, so be gentle when you are taking down your protective style. Use your fingers, scissors, and comb to detangle and undo your look. Don’t use water or moisturizer in this step or you’ll have some serious impossible to detangle knots to deal with. Once your hair is free of any tangles, dead hair (which is normal for styles that include extensions, because your hair has been locked up for so long without any opportunity to shed), and protective styling, give it that spa treatment we spoke about earlier.
Now that you know how to protect your hair during protective styling, check out some of these amazing looks to try!