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 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.
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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.
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 style 1-2 months later, you’ll need to take care (wash, deep condition, and moisturize) of your hair while it’s being protected.
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It’s common for women to purchase all sorts of products to help with the maintenance of their style and almost nothing for their own hair. They think that as long as the weave or braids looks okay, then their hair is okay.
Again, 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 you shouldn’t wash, condition and moisturize your hair while it’s under a weave.
3. Your stylist trims the hair that’s sticking out of a braid (cornrows, singles, twists e.t.c) to give your style 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.
When your stylist 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 the style down.
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 which are dead ends.
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 the scalp and can result in 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 such as Marley hair.
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5. Your braids are too tiny
Who needs a million braid? Personally, I’ve never found this style stylish, but quite frightening. Hair that is parted very tiny and braided with a heavy braid can be easily pulled and uprooted 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 the hair and remove build up when it’s time to take down the style. This means a lot of breakage and hair loss when it’s time to take down your hairstyle.
Instead, you can wear microbraid wigs, they look real and are not damaging to your hair.
6. 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 is very tight and/or if you have to take painkillers after getting your hair done, then you know the style 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 many women to regrow the hair around their edges, long after a hair mishap.
7. You cut off your hair when taking down your braid
So you sat 6 hours to get a style done, and you carried it for 4-12 weeks, now you’re too lazy to spend another 6 hours taking the style 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, only cut off a few inches of the hair, leaving at least 3 inches from where your real hair ends in the braids.
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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.
Or thinks it’s ok to do a blow out on dry hair with the wrong tool and without a heat protectant. How about when they are so impatient with your coils that they would rip through the hair when parting and styling it?
To avoid any hair tragedy, its best to AVOID these type of hair stylists. And if you are visiting a stylist for the first time, even with a reference from another natural, I recommend you stretch your hair before going so that it’s easier and faster to work with.
9. You do the same style each time
While there’s no scientific proof for this, I however 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 don’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.
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10. You keep the style 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 and benefit from a 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.
While you protect your hair in whatever style 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, as well as to try out different hair care recipes, techniques, styles and products. And most importantly, it will allow you to get to know YOUR hair at the current length it’s in.