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. But, and it’s a big one, you have to be extra careful to prevent damage with protective hairstyles.
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, your mane will survive. Follow the tips below to prevent breakage while wearing protective hairstyles!
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 LOC. 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 every day, doesn’t mean hair maintenance goes out the window. Care for your hair the 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). Here’s our advice:
- 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 moisturized, you’ll avoid flakes, dryness, and of course, breakage.
Tip 4: Take it down gently.
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 hairstyles, check out some of THESE amazing looks to try!