8 Hacks to Make Your Protective Styles (Braids and Twists) Last Longer
Image Source: @michelle.st

Just recently, I took out some medium-length twists that I had for about five weeks. While I’m aware that they could’ve easily lasted for 3-4 more weeks (easily) I’m someone who likes to switch my hair up a bit. Anyway, while they were still in, about a month after getting them, someone asked me how I was able to keep them so fresh-looking. The answers that I gave her are the ones that I’m about to share with you now.

If you happen to be someone who either currently has some braids or twists in your hair (mostly the kind that come with extensions) or you’re considering getting some and you want to make them last for the standard 6-8 weeks, here are eight things that you can do to keep them looking, just about as good as they did the first day that you got ‘em.

1. Use Some Rosewater Spray

As I just mentioned, I recently took out some twists. While I adored the way they looked, sometimes the brand of hair that my stylist uses can irritate the crap outta my scalp. Something that brings quite a bit of relief to it, though, is rosewater. Since it’s considered to be a mild astringent, rosewater helps to calm the itching and prevent dandruff flakes. Plus, it contains anti-inflammatory properties if you happen to be someone who struggles with scalp eczema or psoriasis. Rosewater is also awesome because it contains vitamins A, B3, C and E — all of which are directly attributed to healthy hair growth.

You can either purchase the kind of rosewater that comes with a spray nozzle or you can make some of your own. For tips on how to do that, check out Maryam Hampton’s YouTube video on it below. Hands down, it’s one of the best ways to soothe your scalp and condition your hair at the same time.

2. Apply a Tea Tree Oil and Grapeseed Oil Blend to Your Scalp

While there are all kinds of opinions about whether or not it’s a good idea to oil your scalp when you’ve got a protective style in, personally, I’m all for it; especially since you’ve got all of those parts in your hair anyway. Besides, if your scalp is well-nourished, that will help you to not scratch as much which means that it will be easier for your protective style to stay intact.

As far as a great oil to use, one that I’m a fan of is a blend of tea tree oil and grapeseed oil. Tea tree oil is great because it’s got antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antifungal properties. All of these work together in order to calm an itchy scalp, increase blood flow to your scalp, prevent the excess of sebum production (which can cause all kinds of buildup”>, balance the pH of your scalp and stimulate hair growth too. Grapeseed oil is beneficial because it is full of antioxidants, can deeply moisturize your hair and scalp and, since it’s not a “heavy” oil, you don’t have to worry about it caking up (like sometimes coconut oil can do if you don’t rub it all the way in”>.

3. Go Easy on the Edge Control

As your protective style gets older, that makes it easier for some of the hair around your forehead and temple to get looser. While it can be cute to use that as an opportunity to turn them into baby hairs, if you’re not careful, edge control can start to create a lot of buildup. Moral to the story here is, when it comes to laying your edges down, applying the “less is more” approach is best. Oh, and if you’re wondering which edge controls are best for your edges, check out our article, “The Top 10 Edge Controls to Keep Your Edges Laid”. It’s got some great recommendations.

4. Spray with Oil Sheen or Apply a Leave-in Conditioner

I don’t know what it is that makes some of us so comfortable with our protective styles that we don’t think that the style itself and our natural hair that’s underneath it won’t get dry. And since dry hair is never a good thing (especially if you’ve got a curly texture that is type 4), it’s always a good idea to keep some oil sheen or leave-in conditioner on tap. Not only can it bring moisture back to your hair, it can also keep your style looking fresh and new for longer as well. Just make sure that you go with a mist and not a cream. You want to get the benefits of moisturizing without creating a lot of buildup that creams (and mousses) can provide in the process.

5. Clip Fly-Aways (Carefully)

As time goes by, it’s not uncommon for some of the fly-aways from the extensions that were used to make your protective style look longer to get a little bit out of hand. This is where a sharp pair of shears and you taking your time while standing in the mirror comes in. Simply take a braid or twist, look at where they fly-aways are and cut them off in an upward motion. Just make sure that you don’t cut the braid or twist off in the process or that you cut your own hair.

And just how can you tell the difference between what’s yours and what’s the extension? In my experience, the textures are usually totally different because the extensions will either be very loose waves or bone straight. Also, resist the urge to use a lighter to burn the strays. You significantly increase your chances of singeing your own hair in the process which is super counterproductive since you are probably wearing a protective style to gain some inches in the first place.

6. “Touch Up” Your Hairline

I once watched a YouTube video where a woman was saying that her hack for keeping her box braids in for a longer period of time is to tie her roots into knots. Y’all, please don’t do that because all that’s going to do is turn your natural hair into a tangled mess; it could damage your hair follicles too. Instead, just got the front two rows of your hairstyle redone. You’ll be amazed by how it can automatically “freshen up” your look, how cheap of a hack it is and how it can definitely buy you 2-3 more weeks of time if you just can’t bear to part with your look just yet.

7. Wrap Your Hair Up at Night

Remember what I said about fly-aways? While I sometimes prefer to do absolutely nothing but go to bed whenever I have a protective style, I must admit that if I’m serious about extending its “shelf life”, it really is best to wrap it up in a silk or satin scarf or bonnet. For one thing, doing this helps to keep the friction of your bedding from causing more fly-aways to occur. Also, if you want to keep moisture in your hair longer, this is another reason why wrapping your hair up is such a good idea. (By the way, if your braids or twists are super long, putting your hair up in a pineapple can make resting so much easier.)

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8. KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF IT

I mean, you got your braids or twists for the convenience of not having to “deal with” your hair every day, right? So, why in the world do you keep putting your hands all up in it? Messing with anything, over and over again, is going to mess it up at some point. And when it comes to braids and twists, it can loosen them up, cause your natural hair to “peek out” and add extra weight to your hair follicles which could actually weaken them. So, in the spirit of respecting the time and money that you put into getting your style in the first place, try and leave it alone as much as possible. Switching up your look every 2-3 days is fine but anything beyond that can be counterproductive. Unless you’ve got the time and money to get your hair redone every month. But hey, if that was the case, I doubt you would’ve read this all the way through. Right? Exactly.

What steps do you use to help add longevity to your protective styles? Let us know in the comments!

Shellie Reneé

Shellie Reneé has been writing full-time for two decades with bylines in everything from Honey, King and Sister 2 Sister (remember those?) to XONecole, Upscale, Little Things, Your Tango and Love, Live Health — just to name a few. Although most of her writing is relationships-related, she also enjoys writing on self-help, health and wellness and providing tips for women to celebrate the way they were born — both inside and out.

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