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Protective styling is a popular topic in the natural hair community, because with tighter textures comes more breakage. Protective styling is also ideal for transitioners and persons who find too much manipulation to be damaging. Regardless of the reason for choosing to protective style, just because a style is considered “protective” does not mean it will be. Sherell  inquired about problems with her protective styling in our Curly Q&A  and we had to respond. 

Question

My ends are breaking from protective styling, any suggestions on what I need to do?

Answer

Protective styling is a great tool for length retention, but there are some rules that many often forget to follow. Never keep them in longer than required, make sure the style is not too tight, keep hair cleansed, conditioned and moisturized, and give hair a break in between protective styling installations. Breakage at the ends is caused by failure to trim the damage. If you couple that with protective styling, you end up with making the matter worse. Here are some tips on keeping your ends in tiptop shape when you protective style.

Get trims when needed

If you are having breakage to your ends it sounds like they may need to be trimmed. Many in the natural hair world believe that trims are not necessary components of healthy hair care but that just isn’t true. When you wear your hair in a protective style, your hair must be in good shape prior to implementing the style. If your ends are in bad shape prior to installing your protective style with extensions, they may be in worse shape after removal. Always examine your ends before a protective style and after to see if your ends are in dry, brittle, or splitting.

Keep hair (ends) moisturized

Hair has to be taken care of when in a protective style. Your ends may be tucked away or in braids, but they still need to be cared for. If you find your ends are suffering the most when protective styling, then pay more attention to ensure they are being properly cleansed, conditioned, and moisturized. You may be just concentrating on the roots and neglecting the other parts of your hair and that can cause for dryness, buildup, and possibly damage to the middle and ends of your hair.

Try a different style

If the breakage continues, then that style just may not be for you. I have a friend who can rock any and every tight protective style and never lose an ounce of hair while others will lose edges with even one installation of microbraids. There are plenty of protective styles from box braids to wigs to crown braids. Find a style that allows you to get access to your ends so you can cleanse, condition, and moisturize properly.

Giving hair a break in between protective styles

Protective styles can be hard on hair, as they can be too tight, in too long, or hair can get neglected in those styles. For those reasons one should take breaks in between protective styles, but even if you did everything right, you still need to give your hair a break before reinstalling another protective style. Your hair needs a deep conditioning treatment after the style and a break, especially if it was in a protective style over three weeks.