10 Protective Styling Mistakes You Should Avoid If You Want Long Hair

(Last Updated On: November 3, 2019)

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.


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

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.

Depending on the texture of your hair, you can also use a hair gel to hold your hair together while is 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 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

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.

4c natural hair protective styling mistakes

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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.

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.

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.

In Conclusion

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.


What other reason would you add to this list? 
protective styling mistakes

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About Adeola

Welcome to the Coils and Glory site where I believe that our coils are our crown and glory. I help women with 4c hair to feel more confident in their hair and love the hair texture they're in. I also have a hair extensions and t-shirt line you are welcome to purchase. On the site, you will find many helpful hair care articles that are geared towards healthy hair care. If you want to learn more about your hair, you're welcome to checkout my e-books, e-courses and online workshops. Also feel free to send me a message through the contact form or on social media @coilsandglory

17 comments on “10 Protective Styling Mistakes You Should Avoid If You Want Long Hair

  1. Thanks! I have a question tho, how can you wash, condition and moisturise ur hair while u have a weave on?

    • Hi Anon!
      I usually use a spray bottle on my wash days for an easier application.
      To shampoo: dilute shampoo, oil and warm water into a spray bottle and spray directly on your scalp. Gently massage it in to remove dirt and buildup. Spray remaining content on your weave/synthetic hair and gently massage it from root to tip. Rinse.
      Condition: Mix conditioner of choice, oil and warm water. Apply in a similar fashion as step 1, but spray on your roots and braids. Leave conditioner in hair for about 20min or longer. Rinse off.
      Moisturize: Mix leave in + oil of choice into spray bottle, spray in a similar fashion as step 2. rub in hair gently and spray remaining content on synthetic hair.

      You hair won’t be 100% clean and moisturize, but it will be better off than it was before.
      *To ensure your weave doesn’t get messy and frizzy, you’ll have to be gentle and patient during the entire process. I’ll recommend washing over the sink and not in the shower, so you’re not rushing it.

      Let me know how it goes 🙂

  2. silly question – how do you wash, condition and moisturise ur hair while you have braids on?

    • Hi Anon, the process is very similar to that of weave. Except you would need to squeeze the product in, and blot the water out so that you don’t disrupt the hair too much.
      For the conditioning, you’ll need to dilute it with water so it’s a bit runny and it doesn’t leave a build up in your braids.

      To moisturize, you can use a milky/watery leave-in mixed with oil and spray into your braids. I usually do this process every 2 weeks and I would moisturize twice a week.

      Please note that the way your hair looks afterwards will be dependent on how gentle you were with it during the 3stage process.
      The point is to remove some dirt and restore moisture back into your hair while it’s being protected

  3. Very good points, in March decided to go natural, I am happy I made the choice! And luckily my hair is growing quick since I’ve been caring for it:)

  4. 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?

    • 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

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