Isn’t our hair just…GLORIOUS!? Its ability to stretch, bend and curl into any style we desire. Our hair is the definition of versatility. Braided to the scalp, twisted or locked, from curly to straight in a matter of minutes, we transition from one style to the next to match our mood, the weather or an outfit. And although we find strength and pride in embracing the versatility of our hair, it is also vital to strengthen, protect and maintain our hair in its natural state; especially when wearing protective styles.

Who doesn’t like to switch it up from time to time? That was a rhetorical question, because we all do. But switching it up with protective styles without protecting, maintaining and repairing your natural hair can result in breakage, shedding, thinning, and even hair loss. To ensure these issues don’t dim your glow, there are several dos and don’ts you should keep in mind to help protect, maintain and restore your natural hair, while wearing protective styles.

DO Moisturize Your Natural Hair Before Protective Styling

Before we head to the salon or a friend’s house for a sew-in or braids, we prep our hair by cleansing or blowing it out. But sometimes we skip the moisturizing process. Moisturizing your natural hair, as part of your wash day regimen, is just as important as moisturizing your hair before protective styling, and in some cases, could be more important. Skipping the moisturizing process means compromising the elasticity and strength of your hair due to the tugging, pulling, twisting and braiding that comes with protective styling. Using a sealing oil on your hair and scalp will help lock moisture into your hair strands, improving moisture retention and preventing dryness. Moisture should always be the foundation no matter the style you try.

DON’T Overdo Protective Styles

Used to promote growth or to combat climate or weather changes, protective styling is becoming more popular among Black women. And while these styles do their job in protecting your hair, too much of anything is never good for you. Wearing protective styles in for longer than two months or switching styles up too often can weaken your edges and damage your hair. To help prevent thinning edges or breakage that can result from protective styling, use a moisture and detangling masque after taking down your protective style. This will help heal and restore your hair from any damage and maintain it in a healthy state. And while you’re in between styles, give your hair some TLC by allowing it some time to breathe and flow freely.

DO Maintain Your Protective Hairstyles

We try protective styling for so many reasons; to grow our hair, to protect our hair from harsh weather, because we simply don’t feel like doing our hair or just to try a new style. I mean, who really wants to continue staring into the mirror and asking themselves “How am I going to wear my hair today?” NO ONE. Although ease is one of the many perks of protective styling, maintaining your hair while in a protective style is still very important. Incorporating a braid, loc and twist gel into your protective style helps to smooth frizz and fly-aways and makes your styles last longer. Wrapping your hair in a silk scarf or sleeping on a silk pillow case, for those ladies with hundreds of box braids, can also improve moisture retention and prevent frizz and fly-aways.

DON’T Forget to Deep Condition After Protective Styling

You’ve got your wear out of your box braids, twists or sew-in and now it’s time to take them down. Just like your scalp, we’re sure you’re itching to wash your hair and remove all of the annoying build-up that has accumulated over the past few weeks. But don’t skip deep conditioning! Your hair has been chilling up under your protective style, and although you’ve maintained moisture throughout, it is vital to restore moisture to your hair. A deep conditioning or moisture restoration treatment helps to hydrate hair, and is particularly needed on hair that has been dried out or damaged from protective styling. Take-down is not complete without a deep conditioning treatment.

We celebrate the versatility of your hair in all its glory and wonder, but in order to maintain glorious ever-changing hair you must stick to these Dos and remember these Don’ts. Protecting, maintaining and restoring your hair will ensure you can continue to keep your coworkers guessing, your friends inspired and your significant other confused. LOL!

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