It’s that time again. The time when you have wash-and-go’d your natural curls way too many times this month and you’re tired of cleaning an entire wigs worth of hair out of your shower every week from detangling your curls. 

Once you are over trying any of the supposedly “easy” hair tutorials online and you and your hair simply need a break, it’s time to opt for a protective style. Our long beloved box braids, twists, plaits, and lace fronts come back to us like a warm hug. 

These protective styles allow our hair to rest from the constant manipulation of daily styling and can even guard our hair from environmental damage. If cared for properly, they can even help your hair grow in length too. 

You might think that using a braid spray is enough maintenance as long as it has some nourishing ingredients like the extra virgin olive oil and tea tree oil found in our Olive Miracle Braid Sheen Spray

There is so much more, however, that needs to be done in order for a protective style to really benefit textured hair. It must be properly installed, maintained, and removed in order for it to protect your curls and coils instead of damaging them. 

We’re breaking down everything you need to know about each of these steps in order to ensure your tresses are in their best shape yet.

Pre-Installation Care

Many protective styles have a long install time, so you’re likely planning it at least a few days ahead. In the days leading up to your install, ensure your hair is ready for the entire process. 

Do a Deep Penetrating Conditioner Moisture Restore Treatment that will infiltrate the hair strands and strengthen them before they are manipulated into a protective style. Distribute the product evenly from roots to ends, detangle, cover the hair with a plastic cap, and apply moderate heat for up to 30 minutes before thoroughly rinsing.

black castor restorative treatment

Since your hair won’t be properly washed for an extended period of time while it’s in the style, make sure your hair is fully free of any product build-up before installation. Reach for a hydrating yet effective pre-shampoo like our Moisture Miracle Aloe & Coconut Water Pre-Shampoo to best prep the hair to get the most out of your usual cleansing.

 Starting with a clean base, especially a clean scalp, helps your hair to stay healthy through the duration of your protective style

Correct Installation and Braid Spray

Before applying your style, begin with a Prep & Leave-in Moisture Butter. This blend of black castor oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil prepares the hair for extended styles by providing long-lasting hydration. 

Keeping your hair moisturized in the style will help encourage growth and prevent frizz. If a stylist is doing your installation don’t be afraid to communicate when it feels too tight. A tighter pull will make the style last longer, but it’s not worth damaging your natural hair and your precious edges in the process. 

Your protective style should not be so tight that it’s giving you headaches. If you’re doing the job yourself, opt for an Extra Hold Braid, Loc, & Twist Gel that works hard so that you don’t have to pull as tightly. 

african pride braid loc and twist gel

The style that you choose should also work for your particular hair type. For instance, if you have weaker hair, avoid jumbo or extra-long styles that are heavier on the head. Smaller twists or braids require less hair and last longer anyway. 

No matter the style however, it’s best to leave out your edges. The hairline holds the most delicate strands of hair and tightly pulling them into a protective style is a recipe for breakage. Leave your edges be and simply style them with a nourishing edge control formula.

Once your install is completed, finish with our lush Olive Miracle Braid Sheen Spray to soothe and nourish hair. Continue using as needed to relieve any itching and prevent breakage.

Moisturizing Protective Styles

While your hair is tucked away inside a style, it still needs a bit of help to stay moisturized. Curly and coily hair is prone to dryness so it’s important to be regularly moisturizing the hair to help it fight breakage. 

Water is one of the best moisturizers for hair, so to get extra nourishment use a water-based product. Using products that contain water as a primary ingredient will help prevent heavy product buildup. 

Follow your leave-in conditioner with a blend of natural oils to seal moisture into the hair strands. You can either apply directly or mix a nourishing blend of oils with water in a spray bottle. 

Keeping Your Natural Hair Clean

It’s obviously difficult to thoroughly wash your hair while it’s in a protective style, but we have to do our best otherwise the buildup will undo its great benefits. Use the moisturizing products and braid spray regularly. 

If your scalp starts to get itchy, flakes start appearing, or you feel greasy product buildup, then it’s time for a quick wash. Use a braid cleanser to gently clean hair without causing frizz.

Apply to the scalp along your part lines and massage with your fingers or a cloth until clean and then rinse with water. A wash will soothe the scalp, refresh the hair, and help the style last longer.

Continuous Protective Hairstyle Maintenance

To extend your protective style you can go as far as to redo the perimeter of the hair if you have braids or twists. After about a month, you should see enough growth along your hairline and nape for a touch up. 

african pride 5 essential oils

This will give the rest of your hair more time to rest and grow by keeping it in the protective style for longer. Similarly, whenever you manipulate the style into a bun or ponytail, be sure to coat your hands in a small amount of 5 Essential Oils to avoid any friction that would cause frizz and breakage. Continue to delicately care for your hair to keep it healthy and moisturized underneath the protective style.

Learn to Love Your Curls in Any Style

Once it’s been about eight weeks it’s time to return your hair to its regular state. Besides the dirt, grease, and product buildup in your scalp, keeping a protective style in for too long can also cause excessive breakage, tangling, and dryness. 

Don’t get impatient and roughly tug the hair out but instead, take your time and use a deep conditioning mask to gently remove buildup and knots without breaking or shedding.

Once your hair is detangled, cleansed, and conditioned, admire your natural texture and curls and coils that are so amazing. Don’t let anybody tell you that just because you like to switch it up means you love your curls any less. 

Go ahead and rock any look with confidence knowing that your natural hair is beautiful no matter what shape it may take that day. It’s versatility is part of its strength, just like you.

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