In order for a protective style to live up to its name, both the natural hair and scalp need to be taken care of equally.

Are you considering installing a protective style like Marley twists or box braids? Everyone likes to rock these styles for various reasons. I like to take advantage of the opportunity to play with color without using chemicals, experiment with length while retaining my actual length in between trims and giving my strands a break from the atmosphere and frequent co-washing.

In order for a style to be considered truly protective, there are some important rules of thumb to follow before, during and after the process. 

Before installing my twists

My scalp needs a blank canvas to work with. This is the order of my steps and products I currently use.

  • Pre-poo: Deity America Nourishing Scalp Serum uses 100% natural ingredients to prep my scalp for the loss of sebum when I clarify. Although it is distributed all over my roots, the main areas of focus are along my hairline and the nape of my neck.
  • Shampoo: For a deep scrub that will not irritate my canvas, I turn to a phthalate-free bar like Dyevercity Indulge Your Body (caramel apple scent) because it works well for clarifying sensitive scalps. I gently massage in a circular motion with each finger simultaneously--no scratching.

While rocking my twists

In an ideal world, going through the lengthy--and sometimes painful--process of installing protective style twists would allow your hair and scalp to breathe fully for a couple of months at a time. However, for a lazy natural like myself, prolonging the lifetime of a style might seem nearly impossible. That is why I used to care about neatness but now don't mind if my twists start channeling my inner Lisa Bonet.

Low manipulation styles are always a good idea. While my hair is already protected in twists, I don't want to cause too much tension on my scalp or irritate it. It simply depends on my mood, but most of the time a half-up bun or a loose three-strand ponytail will suffice.

Throughout each day, I try not to touch my twists for three reasons:

  • I don't want to transfer oils and dirt to my real hair (which will force me to co-wash sooner)
  • I don't want to encourage unraveling
  • I don't want my real hair to frizz up

If a twist does unravel, I use a whipped butter-gel to provide a soft hold that lasts.

At night, I wrap my edges with a satin headwrap and stuff the length of my twists into a satin bonnet. To maintain a more polished appearance for my protective style, the next morning I might apply an edge tamer to the baby hairs--but otherwise, I prefer to let them run free.

After taking down my twists

Depending on how long I wore my protective style twists, it may be time for a protein treatment restore the strength of my strands. This is how my wash day goes the day I take them down:

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