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Are You Making These 4 Protective Style Mistakes?

written by Toia B. June 21, 2016



Protective styles can be a great way to give your hair a break and maximize the chance of retaining length. But that’s only IF you’re sure not to make these protective style mistakes!

*Please note, while the term “protective style” can include any style that requires little to no daily manipulation like buns or roll, tuck and pin styles, this post will refer mainly to the more long term protective styles like braids, weaves and twists*

Let’s start with what’s probably the most common no-no…

1. Installing Styles Too Tight

Too… TOO many times in the history of hair, women have suffered permanent damage from braids or even cornrows for weave or wig bases that have been installed way too tight. It’s almost like a rite of passage.

It’s like you haven’t lived until you’ve had your hair braided so tight you need a Tylenol just to make it through the ride home. So tight you can’t blink without busting a blood vessel. So tight you can’t give a proper dose of shade.

So tight… okay, you get the point.

Ladies, please, speak up when you’re getting your hair done. There’s nothing wrong with telling your stylist/braider that they’re using too much tension when styling your hair… especially on those edges! Don’t be fooled into thinking “that’s just how it is”.

No. It doesn’t have to be that way and it definitely SHOULDN’T be. Open your mouth!

When styling your own hair, keep tension to a minimum. Neat does not equal tight! Your braids and cornrows can still look bomb without you pulling your hair into oblivion. With the right technique, they can be neat and pretty without all the tension and risk of losing those edges!

READ ALSO: 6 Ways to Regrow Thinning Edges

2. Not Moisturizing

Now, just because your crochet braids, twists and such give you a little break from every day styling, it doesn’t mean you completely ignore your hair, get up and go! Your hair still needs regular moisture to stay healthy.

Of course, you wanna make sure that you start off with cleansed and moisturized hair before styling but that moisture will only last you but so long. Just as you regularly moisturize your hair when it’s loose, the same goes for your protective style.

Here’s the deal: moisturized hair is less likely to break.

So, grab a spray bottle (spray because it’s just the easiest form of application) and fill it with goodies like water, a leave-in and some nourishing oils, shake it up and spray onto your scalp and hair as often as necessary. I’ve found that when I moisturize my hair with this type of mixture every other day or so while wearing a protective style, my hair is super soft when I take my hair down and the process is that much easier!

Not much of a “mixtress”? Here are a few of my faves to keep your hair hydrated…

Whether you use something homemade or store-bought, the point is to make sure you don’t end up with…

protective style mistakes dryness

Onto the next one.

3. Not Cleansing Your Scalp

This really used to annoy me (because, as a stylist, I’ve had to deal with weave and braid take-downs that revealed scalps full of cake-on dandruff and product buildup!!) BUT… I later realized that some just honestly don’t realize that you can actually cleanse your scalp while wearing these styles.

One simple technique, which I use often, is to dilute the shampoo in an applicator bottle with some water (I would do about 2-3 ounces of shampoo, 5-6 ounces of water) and use the nozzle to easily apply the shampoo directly on the scalp within the parts. Diluting the shampoo is totally optional. Massage and rinse out thoroughly by allowing the water to hit the scalp directly.

I’ve even done this with cornrows (if I want them to last up to 2 or 3 weeks). I’m just a little gentler with the massaging step so I don’t frizz the hair way before its time. I also let the shampoo sit a few minutes before doing so.

By cleansing your scalp weekly or at least bi-weekly for those long-term styles, you get rid of any old buildup from your moisturizing routine and help keep your scalp as healthy as possible.

Are YOU Making These 4 Protective Style Mistakes? Click To Tweet

Here’s a throwback post with more tips on getting the most out of your protective styles!

Last but not least…

4. Leaving Your Style in Too Long


Please stop this.

I know it feels good to get that break from dealing with your hair every day but you canNOT leave your weave in to infinity and beyond!

Especially if you’d prefer to take your style down to cleanse, go ahead and take it out after a few weeks, get it cleansed and re-install. Please, do us all a favor- don’t leave it in forever and feel like no one’s gonna notice you haven’t thrown some water up in there!

If it’s about funds and it’s just that you’re trying to save money or simply trying to get your money’s worth by rocking that weave with the good Brazilian Remy for six months, try to think about that before investing in and installing the style. A six-month weave (and I’m talking ’bout you haven’t had a tightening or nothin anywhere during that time!) or any style left in that long is not healthy.

Let’s saying you’re wearing twists or box braids. Once that new growth comes in, it’ll get to a point wear you’ve got SO much new growth that the weight of the added hair may very well begin to wear on your strands and cause breakage… not to mention it won’t look nearly as cute!

You also run the risk of having a tangled, matted nightmare under your weave or braids upon take-down which, again, leads to breakage as you try to detangle. My personal/professional recommendation is to leave your style in for no longer than two months. With proper maintenance, i.e. if you’re following the steps above plus retouching certain areas when needed, you can probably stretch it out another couple weeks to three months.

The moral of the story:

“Listen” to your hair! It’ll let you know when it’s too tight, too dry, too dirty or just time to give it up! 😉

Now, truth time…

Which of these protective style mistakes have YOU made and how did you pay for it later?

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