Protect Hair and Prevent Breakage with Protective Hairstyles

The tips you need to surviving protective styles for natural hair.

Buns, box braids and twists are just a few of the super cute (and super stylish) protective hairstyles to try when your hair just needs a break. While these protective hairstyles for natural hair give you and your hair some well deserved time off, there are still a few things you need to keep in mind. For one, the hair underneath (especially if you’re wearing extensions) needs to be nurtured, and two, you may get a break from styling, but you don’t get a break from washing your hair.

If you’re currently rocking protective hairstyles or thinking of trying them out, here are a few pointers you need to keep in mind.

1. Find a good hairstylist.

I’ve heard so many stories of women who were so excited to get protective styles for short natural hair, like box braids or Havana twists, only to end up coming home and removing them the same day. Why? Well, many hair braiders use a technique in which they twist or braid the hair really tight to ensure longevity. In the long run, you’ll end up with a tension headache, a sore hairline/tension alopecia (which can lead to hair loss) and feeling stressed that your money just went down the drain. Don’t let this happen to you: Find a stylist that is open to hearing your concerns.

protective hairstyles like box braids
To ensure longevity, hairstylists tend to braid hair in really tight, neat rows.

2. Prep and protect your natural hair.

While wearing protective hairstyles, it’s very easy to forget the hair that’s underneath the extensions. Remember, even though this is a style you’ll probably wear long-term, your real hair still matters. Before getting your hair styled into a protective style, give it a treatment using a hair mask, like Nexxus New York Salon Care Humectress Moisture Restoring Masqueto nourish and repair your hair. This will also help your real hair’s strength and resilience.

Pro tip: Most hairstylists recommend that you arrive to your appointment with clean hair without any product in it. The reason for this is that it’s harder to braid hair that has a lot of slip or is coated with hair product. Also, arriving with clean hair saves you some money, since the stylist doesn’t have to provide that service for you. In this case, a hair mask is crucial in preparing your hair before your appointment.

3. Keep your scalp and protective style clean.

Protective hairstyles, no matter which style you choose, must be shampooed. Be gentle when cleansing your hair: Massage a shampoo like Clear Hydration Fix Shampoo into your hair and scalp, then follow up with Clear Hydration Fix ConditionerThe formula from this line helps regain and retain moisture in your scalp. In the event you need a refresher to keep your scalp and hair feeling, smelling and looking revitalized, opt for a dry shampoo like Dove Refresh+Care Detox & Purify Dry Shampoo.

protective hairstyles like long box braids
Keep your protective hairstyles neat, fresh and full of moisture.

4. Moisturize hair daily.

We know by now that dry hair looks anything but fab. Keep your hair soft and moisturized by using a hair mist or a natural hair oil like coconut oil. If you’re looking for a good drugstore option, consider using Nexxus New York Salon Care Humectress Luxe Lightweight Conditioning Mist to condition the surface of the hair. To apply, use when hair is still damp after washing, or give your hair a spritz of water to dampen, then apply the mist afterwards. Follow up with a hair oil to coat hair, like Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil, to help lock in moisture.

Check out how to protect your hair when it’s time to take down your protective style