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Tips for Avoiding Damaged Hair While Protective Styling


Words by: Danyelle Jacobs, image via AfricanCreature (wearing Afro Kinky Curly hair)

Summer is officially here! With those hot summer months comes the unwanted effects humidity brings to your natural hair: extreme shrinkage and frizz.

One surefire way to combat the effects of humidity is protective styling. Protective styling, as the name implies, is meant to protect the hair from the stress of daily manipulation and styling.

I get it. We all need a break from our hair. There are days when I don’t even feel like touching my hair. In the same sense, our hair needs a break from us as well. The daily combing, twisting, pulling, and tugging that comes with our normal hair care routine eventually takes a toll on our hair.

Protective Styling is good for a number of reasons:

  • Low Maintenance & Manipulation: The less pulling and tugging you do to your hair, the more it flourishes. Let’s face it—our hair can barely stand the day-to-day manipulation that comes with our daily hair care routine. I’m sure those curls wouldn’t mind a little break! 
  • Saves Time: Protective styles don’t require much work once installed, which is a definite plus. It definitely helps when you need to catch a few more zzz’s in the morning!
  • Length Retention: Retaining length seems to be one of the biggest issues curly girls face. Since our hair is so tightly coiled and curled, it’s difficult for our scalp’s natural oils to travel from the root all the way down our hair shaft. Because of this, us curly girls face lots of breakage and split ends, which is heightened due to daily manipulation of the hair. 
  • Versatility: If you’re anything like me, I love to switch my hair up. There are so many different protective style options (box braids, marley twists, weaves, crochet braids, etc…), giving you tons to choose from with lots of style options. 

All of this sounds fine and dandy, but what most naturalistas do not know is that what you do to prep your hair for a protective style, the technique used while installing your protective style, and your hair care practices for the duration of your install are all important to the overall health of your hair.

Preparing for Your Style


The following tips will come in handy when preparing for your protective style:

  1. Start With a Fresh Pallet: Prior to installing your protective style, you should make sure your hair is completely clean. This one should go without saying. You DO NOT want to install a protective style on dirty hair. You want to start with clean hair and a clean scalp, especially if you plan on wearing your install for 4-6 weeks. 
  2. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize: You should also make sure your hair is deep conditioned and moisturized prior to installing your protective style, especially since you’ll have your style in for a significant amount of time. Starting with moisturized hair ensures that there will be less breakage during the install.
  3. Don’t Snatch Those Edges: Tightness is super important when it comes to protective styling. Be sure to express to your hair stylist that you do not want the style to be too tight. If you walk out of her chair and you can’t smile without your head hurting, that’s a problem! You especially want to be sure that your hair is not too tight around the edges—your edges are the most fragile part of your hair and are more susceptible to breakage. I understand we all want to be snatched honey, but you do not want those edges to be snatched because trust me, it is not cute, and it takes a lot of work to get those edges to grow back in! 

Wearing Your Style

Vlogger Hair De La Creme wearing Coarse Yaki Clip-Ins

We all want our styles to last as long as they possibly can, but don’t sacrifice the health of your hair and scalp in the name of beauty. Protective styling does not mean you should ignore your hair for the next 4-6 weeks. Be sure to listen to the way your hair looks and feels for the duration of your protective style.

  1. Wash & Condition: I know ladies— we don’t want the style to get frizzy, tangled, or whatever the case may be. However, if you notice that your scalp is itchy and flaky, it may be time to pull out your wash day essentials and cleanse your scalp. It’s important to maintain a healthy and clean scalp while you’re rocking your protective style, especially if you want those tresses to grow and flourish. 
  2. Moisturize: It’s a given that your hair will start to feel dry at some point while rocking your protective style. It’s good to moisturize your hair (and scalp) to ensure that you prevent breakage during the take down process. Try a light moisturizing spritz, or D.I.Y it so to avoid product build up. 
  3. Protect Those Tresses at Night: Be sure to sleep with a satin bonnet or scarf at night to avoid messing up your protective do and keep it looking fresh. Bonnets and scarfs aren’t always suitable for the bedroom, if you know what I mean! So for those nights when bae isn’t feeling the bonnet or scarf, pull out the satin pillowcase. Those work just as good! 

Next time you feel the urge to rock a protective style, keep these tips in mind. You can’t go wrong with protection and style!


Danyelle Jacobs is a freelance content creator at, a natural hair, beauty, and lifestyle blog dedicated to offering natural hair care advice, beauty tips, and daily inspirations. 

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