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10 Protective Styling Mistakes To Avoid: Key 4c Hair Growth Tips

(Last Updated On: August 27, 2020)

Protective styling can be a hit or miss; it could also be beneficial or detrimental depending on the individual and/or style chosen. In this post, I want to share 10 biggest protective styling mistakes you should avoid at all cost if you want to grow your 4c natural hair long!

While many have achieved great results from protecting their hair, many have also achieved disappointing and damaging results which sometimes negates the purpose of protective styling.

In this post, I want to outline ten cases when protective styling can be damaging to the health of your hair. This might also explain why you don’t see results in the length of your hair after doing a protective style. To ensure that you achieve healthy growing hair, all you have to do is to avoid everyone of these points and you’ll be on your way to a healthy hair growth.

10 Protective Styling Mistakes You Should Avoid for Healthy 4c Hair Growth

1. You don’t take care of your hair while it’s being “protected”

I can say that the main reason MOST Black women wear synthetic hair is simply out of convenience.

“I’ll rather wear a wig or weave because I don’t have to deal with my hair for the next 3 months” many will say.

Statements such as these is what separates a protective style from a lazy style.  If you want to see increased length after taking down the hairstyle 1-2 months later, you’ll need to take care (wash, deep condition, and moisturize) of your hair while it’s being protected.


2. Your REAL hair takes a back seat so that your synthetic hair can shine.

It’s common for a lot of Black women to purchase all sorts of hair products to help with the maintenance of their hairstyle and almost nothing for their own natural hair. They think that as long as the weave or braids looks okay, then their hair is okay.

I’m sorry to break it to you but the weave on your head is NOT YOUR hair. The hair that’s growing out of your body should take precedence over what’s wrapped around it or what’s worn on top of it. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t wash, condition and moisturize your hair while it’s under a weave.


3. Your hairstylist trims the hair that’s sticking out of your braids (cornrows, singles, twists e.t.c) to give your hairstyle a more polished look.

Please DO NOT let your stylist do this to your hair! Instead, tell her to take her time to braid the hair so she wouldn’t have to fix it later on. She can also apply a foam mousse or moisturizing cream on your hair to give your hairstyle a a polished look.

When your hairstylist trims the hair that’s sticking out, what she’s really doing is giving you a messy haircut which may be noticeable after you take down the hairstyle.

She’s also putting the aesthetics of your style over the health of your hair. To avoid this, you could stretch your hair out with African threading or do a blow out so your hair is less frizzy and ready to be styled.  You can also trim your hair before installing braids, because the hair that’s sticking out is probably split ends that needs to be trimmed off. 

Depending on the texture of your hair, you can also use a hair gel or styling cream to hold your hair together while its braided.

4. Your braids are too heavy.

Heavy braids puts an unnecessary burden and stress on your hair and scalp which can be detrimental to the health of your scalp, causing bald spots.

To avoid this, its best to part your hair in large portions and use fewer packs of hair. You can also use lighter hair extensions such as Marley hair or any kinky hair extension. 

5. Your braids are too tiny.

Who needs a million braid? Personally, I’ve never found this hairstyle to be stylish, but quite frightening. Hair that is parted very tiny and braided with a heavy braid can be easily pulled and uprooted  from your scalp due to the extra weight the scalp has to withstand.

Also, depending on how long the braid is kept in for and the amount of care you give your hair while it’s braided, it might be difficult to detangle your hair and remove build-up when it’s time to take down the hairstyle. This can result in a lot of breakage and hair loss when it’s time to take down your hairstyle.

As a result, your protective style can easily result in a destructive style that can set you back a few months in your hair journey.

If you must wear million braid hairstyles, you can wear microbraid wigs, they look real and are not damaging to your hair.

6. Your Braids are too tight.

If you can’t move your head properly after getting your hair done or if the skin on your forehead and scalp are very tight and/or if you have to take painkillers after getting your hair done, then you know your hairstyle is too tight.

Tight hairstyles can rupture the hair follicles, which can permanently damage your roots and hinder new growth. This is why it’s difficult for a lot of women to regrow the hair around their edges, long after a hair mishap.


5 Ways to Regrow Your Edges

10 Best Natural Hair Growth Products

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7. You accidentally cut off your hair when taking down your braid.

So you sat 6 hours to get a hairstyle done, and you carried it for 4-12 weeks, now you’re too lazy to spend another 6 hours to take it down?

What’s the point of embarking on a growth challenge with protective styles, only for you to cut everything off? If you want to speed up the take-down process, you can cut off a few inches of the hair, leaving at least 3 inches from where your real hair ends in the braids.

You can also get the help of a friend or family member to help take down the hairstyle.

8. You have an Impatient and Ignorant Stylist.

There is nothing more detrimental to your hair than an impatient and ignorant hair stylist who insists on combing dry coily hair with a fine tooth comb and without a leave-in conditioner.

She might also choose to do a blow out on your hair with the wrong tool and without a heat protectant. Some of them might also be impatient with your coils that they would rip through your hair when parting and styling it.

To avoid any hair tragedy, its best to AVOID these types of hair stylists. And if you are visiting a hairstylist for the first time, I recommend you stretch your hair before going so that it’s easier and faster to work with.

9. You repeat the same hairstyle every time.

While there’s no scientific proof to this, I believe that installing Ghana cornrows, box braids, million twists, and any other type of braided hairstyles every single time you braid your hair can weaken the hair strands.

Cornrows doesn’t pull on the hair or weigh it down as much as single braids does, so I recommend that you rotate between these type of hairstyles so that you don’t put too much stress on your hair.

10. You keep your hairstyle in for way too long!

Hair kept in braids, particularly heavy and tiny ones for a long period of time will eventually be weakened and thus shed in chunks or even break off.

This is especially true when cleansing, conditioning and moisturizing is not done whilst the hair is in braids. The length of time your hair can handle ha protective style will vary from person to person.

Personally, I have found that I achieve the greatest benefits with protective styling when my hair is left in braids no longer than 5 weeks. Anything after this time frame often results in excessive breakage, even if I was diligent with cleansing and moisturizing.

In Conclusion

While you protect your hair in whatever hairstyle you choose to protect it in, be sure to give your hair a break in-between styles.

These breaks will allow you to properly wash and deep condition your hair while it’s out and free. Most importantly, it will allow you to get to know YOUR natural hair at the current length it’s in.


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Windle Sham

Sunday 25th of October 2015

Hi Windle here. I just saw this video for homemade moisturizing hair mask.

I hope you find the tutorial useful.

Adeola (The Mane Captain)

Monday 14th of April 2014

Hi Kaitlyn.To answer your questions,- It's obvious that your hair fell out because the braids were too tiny, heavy and you left them in for too long. Extensions are heavier than our hair and so it will weigh and pull the hair out if it's too heavy and tiny. I suggest getting bigger sized braids and using lighter extensions such as marley hair. -Also since you're now 8 years older, I think your scalp and hair should be stronger than it was when you were 11- I recommend only keeping braids in your hair for a maximum of 6weeks, otherwise, your roots will start to lock and you might not even get the benefits of PS if its left in for too long.- What are your plans for the summer? Will you always be busy? If not, i'm sure you can dedicate a few hours weekly or every other week restyling your hair. I wear two strand twists and I cover it with scarves when i'm out in the sun, to avoid my hair from getting fried. Remember that PS aren't meant for you to not have to deal with your hair, as you still need to make sure that your hair stays healthy while its been protected. I suggest reading this article I just published today.

also check out these 31 hairstyles I wore last July

also check out this post on how to wash a PS

I wish you all the best in the summer and please let me know how these suggestions worked out with your hair.

Kaitlyn Smith

Saturday 12th of April 2014

Hi! Before I get to my question I would like to thank you for writing this! This is all so helpful to me in my decision to get braids!So basically, I have only had braids once in my life, I got micro braids when I was 11. I had such a horrible experience with them, the braids fell out and took my hair with them and my hair thinned WAY TOO MUCH in the roughly 7 weeks I had them in. But I also don't remember taking care of them very well, which might have something to do with it, and my hair was brittle and dry back then as well. Now I am 19 and I just absolutely don't want to have to deal with my hair for the beginning of summer ( I can never do anything with it because of the humidity and heat, it just turns my hair into a giant puff ball all the time no matter what) because of the heat rising. May-June is the hottest time of summer and I would like to have braids in for most of it. Preferably box braids or singles, the style is simply adorable to me. The thing is, I'm a bit traumatized by my past braids that I am a little hesitant. Now-a-days my hair is strong enough for box braids, I don't doubt that, I have thick sturdy curls that I believe will hold up. And because I am thinking about doing braids again I've started doing deep conditioning, coconut oil treatments, and hair care routines to strengthen my hair. I am still hesitant though. I don't want to get these braids, and have the braids fall out again, or have extremely thin hair. Can you tell me things that I can do the prepare my hair for braids, and how to properly care for them? I want them for at least 8 weeks. What are some signs that can tell me if my hair won't be able to hold up the braids? I do shed quite a bit, I'm worried about that. Is there a proper hair/braid care routine that I should know about?

Thank you for your time and sorry about all the questions!


Sunday 10th of November 2013

This is my first time reading your blog and I like the way you sum things up, it's helpful. Thanks much! I stopped pressing and went natural early this year. I am mostly 4a with 4b areas in back. My hair averages 7", but all over I have strands less than half an inch. I don't know why or what to do about it, any ideas?

Adeola (The Mane Captain)

Sunday 10th of November 2013

Hi Anon!Thanks for stopping by, I hope you learned a thing or two from the blog posts. Do you mean you have 0.5inch (twa) all over your head? Since you went natural early this year, your hair should have grown longer than 1/2". Why did you go natural? did you experience a MAJOR breakage after a protective style or relaxer? what have you been doing to your hair ever since? The texture of your hair has nothing to do with breakage, only what you do or don't do to your hair that will determine its health. For a more personal and specific consultation, you can send me a response to these questions to my mailbox via the "contact us" section of the blog. You can also send me a picture of your hair. If you live in Toronto, I suggest you come to the meet up on Saturday Nov 16.ttys

Onyeka Alaku

Sunday 22nd of September 2013

Awesome article. I'm learning more about my hair :-)

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