How To Relieve An Itchy Scalp While Rocking Protective Styles

Have you ever gotten a fresh set of braids, a new wig, or sew-in weave and felt so cute–only to have your head feel like it’s crawling with ants the next day?

the process of a smooth & bouncy flexi rod set

Protective styles help you look stylish and give you a break from the daily manipulation that can damage your hair. But the tension, limited access to your scalp, and artificial hair can cause scalp issues that leave you desperate for relief. 

However, there are measures you can take to keep a healthy scalp and make your protective style feel more comfortable. In this article I will share 4 tips on how to relieve an itchy scalp while rocking protective styles

1. Prep Your Hair For Your Protective Style

Before you get braids, a wig, or a weave, you need to properly prepare your hair and scalp for the style. You should cleanse your scalp thoroughly with a clarifying shampoo. You can even exfoliate your scalp to remove dead skin cells. This will remove any dirt and buildup that could slow hair growth and cause irritation and itchiness once your style is installed.

In addition to cleansing your hair and scalp, be sure to clean the hair you will be using for your protective style. Make sure to wash your human hair bundles beforehand.

Synthetic hair that is used for most braid, twist, and crochet styles is often coated in chemicals and based in alkaline. This is meant to prevent mold, but it can cause scalp irritation and itchiness. To fix this, try an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse. Here’s how:

  • Find something to soak the hair in. This can be a sink, a tub, or even a bucket.  Use whatever is available to you. You may want to use something like weights  to help weight the hair down and keep it under the water.
the process of a smooth & bouncy flexi rod set
  • Fill your container with water and add about a cup of Apple Cider Vinegar. Exact measurements are necessary–just be sure not to overdo it!
  • Place the hair in the water and let it soak for 15-20 minutes. After the time is  up, a white film will appear at the top of the water indicating that the alkaline has been lifted from the hair.
the process of a smooth & bouncy flexi rod set
  • Remove the hair and drain the water. Rinse the hair with clean water to be sure everything is removed.
  • Hang the hair to dry.
woman with a smooth and bouncy flexi rod set natural hairstyle holding products to moisturize natural hair

2. Use Products With The Right Ingredients

If your scalp gets itchy after your protective style is installed, you can apply a scalp spray, or use an oil like our VoiceOfHair PureFix Hair Elixir to soothe the itch.

You should look for an oil that contains natural ingredients like peppermint–which offers a cooling sensation and stimulates growth. Neem Oil and Rosemary Oil are also essential because they have antimicrobial properties that stop the growth of fungus on the scalp. 

3. Avoid Using Heavy, Petroleum Based Products Like Grease and Edge Control

Edge control can be useful in laying your baby hairs but you should never apply it all over your scalp to make your braids look neater.

Heavy products like petroleum and edge control are too thick to penetrate the hair follicle. Instead, they sit on top of it. This can cause major issues. For one thing– it will prevent air and moisture from reaching your hair follicles, which will slow down your hair growth.

It can also cause buildup that can irritate your scalp and cause serious issues like dandruff and even hair loss.  If your braids are looking fuzzy but you’re not quite ready to take them out, try an updo or rocking a scarf/hat instead.

4. Don’t Leave Your Style In For Too Long

Leaving your protective style in for longer than 2-3 months is not recommended.

Over time, the hair can become matted and begin to lock. Also, the weight of the added hair can pull on your delicate roots and cause thinning, scalp irritation, and hair loss.

It’s ok to get your money’s worth out of a style, but not at the expense of you scalp.

woman with a smooth and bouncy flexi rod set natural hairstyle holding a leave in moisturizing cream for natural hair

5. Take A Break

We all love a good protective style. But it’s important to love your natural hair more. Be sure to take breaks between rocking protective styles.

Alternate braid styles, wigs, weaves, and crochet, with loose, low manipulation styles that don’t put a lot of tension on your scalp.

This will give your scalp a chance to breathe and recover, and can help prevent itching and irritation.

The Bottom Line

Protective styles should be fun, convenient, and empowering. What they shouldn’t be is itchy. If you follow these tips to keep your scalp clean, free of buildup, and well moisturized, you can take the itch out of protective styles for good.

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Brandelyn Green is the Founder of VoiceOfHair, a platform to help women of color find the best hair care products, regimens and hairstyles! Since starting VoiceOfHair in 2014 she has grown the social media platform to over 1MM+ on Instagram and Facebook. As a natural who is also a salon goer, she wanted to create a platform where people could find the best products, hairstylists, advice and trends.
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