5 Ways to Make Sure Your Protective Style is Doing Its Job

Is Your Protective Style Protecting Your Hair?
Credit: @Miccheckk12 on Instagram

For naturals, preservation of curls is key!  Thus, the protective style was born to retain length and promote healthy hair growth.   Since this idea’s inception, the term has transcended hair types, stepping into all sectors of black beauty culture.  Natural or chemically processed, protective styling is a great way to show your hair some TLC – but every good thing has the potential to go wrong.  There are definitely aspects of protective styling that can make positive hair results null and void if done incorrectly

Protective styles come in many forms and fashions.  The common thread among these looks is that they are designed to give the individual’s hair a break.  Each style puts the hair away (mainly the ends), requiring low manipulation and a small amount of upkeep.  In turn,  one can go days, weeks, or even months ( two month maximum with shampoos in between) without styling their hair on a daily basis.  As simple as it sounds, there are key practices that truly make protective styles a thriving environment for each hair strand.  Here’s FIVE ways to make sure that your protective style is ready to WERK :

  1. Don’t forget to moisturize!  Most protective styles leave your hair tucked away for long periods of time.  This hides the hair from the everyday elements.  However, this makes it nearly impossible for outside moisturizing agents to successfully immerse themselves in the hair.  Cover yourself for the time that your hair is on vacation by sending it away with some moisture.  Deep treat your hair prior to each protective style installation.  This will give your hair the moisture it needs throughout the style’s endurance.  Leave in conditioners are also recommended to follow each deep treatment, layering your hair in love until you see it again.
  2. You need to CUT ITTTTT 😉  Although protective styles are low in manipulation once achieved, installation usually require high manipulation (braiding, twisting, etc.) in order to lay a solid foundation.  Through installing and taking down these styles, your ends can experience rips, tears, and pulls that may go unnoticed.  Also, with hair being tucked away for a long period of time, dead hair that hasn’t been shed through routine combing makes taking down protective styles more susceptible to tangling.  Cutting your hair in between installations with ensure that your protective style is doing more good than harm.  Reinstalling a new protective style over already damaged ends is likely to stunt hair growth, promote split ends and encourage tangling.  Regular haircuts are a great way to start fresh with each styling venture.
  3. Don’t push it… Know your style’s expiration date.  Protective styling should be done in 1-2 month increments.  Remember, too much of anything is never a good thing.  Leaving your protective style past the two month interval heightens chances for tangling and matting in extreme cases.  Although you’ve taken a break from your mane, your follicles are still working full time.  While you hair is growing, the strands that have gone through all of the growth stages are continually shedding.With your hair being tied up (literally and figuratively), strands that are normally combed out on a day to day basis remain within your protective style, lying dormant among your living tresses.  Make sure your hair gets the relief it needs in addition to routine cleansing.
  4. Rub a dub dub!  Protective styling does not elude to a shampoo break.  Bacterial growth is not only yucky, but standing in the way of your ultimate goal.  Clogged follicles are unable to produce new hair strands, thus stunting hair growth.  Visit your salon professional to shampoo your weave installation.  Be sure to sit under a hooded dryer to prevent mildew and mold from growing near the scalp.  For braids/faux locs, witch hazel is a great astringent used to clean your scalp if you’re hesitant to have a full scalp immersion.  Though a bit more tedious, this is a less invasive and frizz free way to cleanse your hair.
  5. Take a break!  Although protective styles are awesome for preserving your hair, they should be done in moderation.  Back to back protective styles also leads to consistent tension on your follicles.  This can cause unwanted stress and weakening within the root which, over time, can lead to irreparable damage.  Leaving your hair out in between protective styles, giving your follicles a chance to rejuvenate is key.  Two weeks to one month is recommended in between each new style.

YOUR HAIR COMES FIRST.  A great amount of women rely on protective styles for their everyday look.  However, in putting your hair first, it will flourish underneath each installation.  Without taking the necessary precautions, these styles can very well damage one’s natural hair strands to the point of no return.  Utilize these tips and protective styling will definitely help you reach your healthy hair goals!

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

ASHLEY LEE, Hair Stylist Success is the best revenge.... Why not start with great hair? I'm Ashley Lee- Fully licensed cosmetologist. Based in NYC, I divide my time between freelance opportunities, In Salon appointments and Editorial shoots. For routine hair care and styling, I am open for clientele at Next Vanity Salon in Midtown Manhattan. Outside of the salon, I am available for booking as a Hair Artist for MIZANI, offering in salon education and acting as a brand embassador. Bridal packages are also available and private projects can be arranged upon request. ​

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