This Is How to Make Your Protective Styles Last Longer

Image Source: @syeda_bombom

See, I’m the kind of person who thinks that protective hairstyles are cute. So, when it comes to the reasons why we should consider them, at least from time to time, looking good is enough of one for me. But if you’re also looking for a way to save time, reduce the chances of your hair experiencing damage and/or you want to gain some extra inches of healthy hair, these are some more reasons to put your hair into some box braids, some passion twists or even a killer weave or wig.

And once you do decide to go with a protective style of choice, if you want to keep your style looking fresh for as long as possible, here are some tips to definitely keep in mind.

1. Have a professional style your hair in the first place.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that, back when I was in college, some of the best braided styles I ever had were from women who taught themselves how to braid in order to make ends meet. So, if you happen to know someone who, may not have a license, but can work wonders on their own, that is the exception to this rule. But overall, when you’re looking for a way to make your protective style—whether it’s braids, twists or even a weave—last longer, it really is a good idea to see a professional. They are trained in how to not only do protective styles well but how to offer tips on how you can properly style your hair that’s underneath it too. By the way, this also goes for wigs. While you might be able to install yours on your own (you can check out some videos on how to do it properly here, here, here, here and here), if you want your wig to look (and lay) as naturally as possible, it’s a good idea to have a professional stylist cut it for you so that it doesn’t look so straight-out-of-the-box wiggy (if you know what I mean).

2. Wash your scalp only.

Speaking of wigs, when it comes to them, many women cornrow their own hair before putting on a wig cap. Well, when it comes to this particular tip, it won’t really matter if you mess up your cornrows while you wash your hair (since you’ll be putting a wig cap on top of your braids anyway). But if you’ve got a braided or twisted style that you want to look as frizz-free as possible, I suggest focusing less on your hair and more on cleansing your scalp. That cool thing about this recommendation is there are all sorts of scalp treatments on the market that can help to clean your scalp. Plus, thanks to the nozzle that’s on top of the bottle, you won’t have to worry about messing up your hair in the process. Some of those scalp cleansing products include African Pride Black Castor Miracle Braid & Scalp Cleansing Rinse, Taliah Waajid Protective Style Dry Gel Shampoo and Girl+Hair Moisturizing Sulfate-Free Cleanser.

3. Create a DIY moisturizing scalp spray.

Whether your hair is in braids or twists or you’ve got it cornrowed underneath your wig cap, it’s always a good idea to have a moisturizing scalp spray on tap. Not only can it help to keep your scalp (and also your hair follicles) nice and moisturized, it can significantly reduce the amount of itchiness that a protective style can sometimes cause; itching that can result in you constantly having your hands in your hair. Not only can this cause you to mess up your protective style, it can sometimes put too much pressure on your tresses which can ultimately lead to breakage as well. A DIY video that shows you how to combine Aloe vera juice, tea tree oil and Jamaican black castor oil together in order to make a wonderful scalp spray can be found here.

4. Invest in some mousse.

When it comes to braids and twists specifically, while some people think that using hair shears to trim fly-aways is the best idea, if you’re not careful, you could end up cutting off more of your natural hair than you realize. That’s why, I actually think it’s better to keep the trimming down to a minimum and to invest into some hair mousse instead. One what is water-based is not only better for your hair, but it will reduce the amount of flaking and residue that you see too. Some that protective style wearers love includeDesign Essentials Almond & Avocado Curl Enhancing Mousse,Lottabody Wrap Me Foaming Mousse and Shea Moisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus Frizz-Free Mousse. You can watch a video on how to properly apply mousse to your braids (and twists)  here.

5. Get some professional in-between touch-ups.

This has got to be one of the most underestimated reasons for why people’s protective styles do not last as long as they would like. Say that you got some microbraids done and, due to the time that it took to put them in (not to mention how much they cost), you can’t see yourself taking your braids out before 6-8 weeks. Still, you can’t exactly control how fast your hair grows and, after about week four or five, your hairline is not looking as “clean” as you would like. A simple solution is to have your stylist braid the first few rows of your front and sides. It will make your braids look brand new again without you having to spend a lot of time and money in the process. In fact, seeing a professional, in-between visits, to touch up any protective style (including a weave) can have your hair looking just like new, even if it’s a few weeks old. Oh, and speaking of looking like new, never forget the power of edge control. Laying down your edges just right is another way to keep your protective style looking on point (check out our article “The Top 10 Edge Controls to Slay” for some of the best ones that are on the market right now).

6. Wrap your hair up at night.

I recently read a tweet that said something along the lines of, “We need to see more shows with Black women going to bed and having sex with their bonnets on.” Indeed. Maybe that would help more of us to regularly wrap our hair up at night. Remember, a third of your 24-day, on average, is spent tossing back and for in your bed as you sleep. That’s a lot of time to totally mess your hairdo up (not to mention dry it out). If you’ve got your hair in braids or twists, consider putting them up in a pineapple. If you’ve got a wig that you can’t simply take off at night, this video and this video can walk you through what to do. As for weaves, this video and this video will hook you up.

7. Keep your hands out of it.

Remember, the whole point in having a protective style is so you can leave your hair alone. This doesn’t just mean that you won’t have to put your hair into a new ‘do every day; it also means that, for the most part, you won’t mess with your hair period. Aside from maybe using a little edge control, pulling your hair up into a ponytail or bun or patting on your head if/when it itches, do your best to keep your fingers from getting all in your protective style. It can mess it up over time but, more importantly, the pulling and tugging could end up damaging the hair that you have underneath it. And you definitely don’t want that to happen—do you?

What are your tips and tricks for making protective styles last? Share them with us in the comments!

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