The Right Way To Protective Styling

Protective styling can be a good thing right? You’re giving your hair a break, allowing it to rest, maybe help with the growing process. But then, your edges are popping, hair is coming out, scalp is dry and brittle and it seemed like you lost more hair than you ever did while it wasn’t being manipulated. Why?

There’s levels to this protective styling thing and I get several questions about it. I’ve been protective styling since I was 11 years old. I’ve made mistakes in the past, BELIEVE ME, but I’m here to give you some advice on the right way to protective styling. Listen up.

Protective styling, in a nutshell, is doing a style that completely gives your hair a rest. You can do braids, crochets, sew-ins, or wear wigs. I’ve done 3 out of 4 (I’ve never owned a wig) and with 20 years under my belt let me give you some advice.

  • Always start with clean hair and scalp.
  • Make sure your hair and scalp is moisturized.
  • Are your ends trimmed and healthy? If not, trim them!
  • Clean your hair utensils (brush, comb, hairclips, etc).

Tips for Braids

  • Soak the hair in Apple Cider Vinegar and Conditioner until all that gunk comes up, then wash hair. Your scalp will thank you.
  • DO NOT BRAID TOO TIGHT. Your scalp will already be tender, don’t add any more strain.
  • The natural hair to braiding hair ratio should almost be the same. For example, you don’t want to braid 4 inches of weave onto a 1/2 inch of your natural hair. Your hair will pop.
  • Kanekalon hair is lighter and better for your hair. Not that synthetic hair. Why use 12 packs of synthetic hair when you can use 3 packs of kanekalon hair?
  • If your scalp is tender after braiding, put a hot towel on your head. Let them steam do its thing.

Fun Fact: I did box braids on my hair and I used 11 packs of synthetic hair. The hair was so heavy, it popped my hair out. I had to cut my hair off into a pixie hair cut. It was the thinnest I’ve ever seen.

  • Ease up sewing in the hair too tight. You may not feel it when you’re doing it, but I promise you, you will feel it later.
  • The longest you should keep your hair in braids is 4-6 weeks. You can keep them in longer if you wash your hair with the braids in (and you can).
  • Oil your scalp at least twice a week. Refresh your hair with water and add some leave-in conditioner.

I’ve never worn wigs but your wash regimen should be the same as if you don’t wear wigs. Do your regimen every two weeks. Take your time when taking down your protective style. Remember,  you have lots of build up and hair that needs to shed from your scalp. You don’t want to be harsh during the detangling process. SECTION your hair! You’ll thank me later.

This may sound redundant and you’re probably thinking, who wouldn’t know this obvious information, but there is someone out there that doesn’t know the right way to protective style or to even care before, during, or after. I’ve followed these steps for years and although I’ve experience my own horror, I found a way to correct my mistakes and maintained healthy hair while its resting. Now you can too!