The fall season often has many naturals taking cover in protective styles as they try to protect their hair from unfavorable weather conditions. Even though protective styles are meant to help us grow our hair, healthy and long while in a style, a protective style which isn’t done properly will yield disappointing results. Since the most popular form of protective styles involves hair extensions, its very important that you prep your natural hair before installing braids so that it doesn’t “suffer” while it’s being “protected”.
So, before you call up your stylist to fix you up with a protective style of your choosing, please make sure you do these 6 things first.
Step 1 – DEEP CLEANSE: Many women often choose not to wash their hair while it’s in braids in order to prolong the longevity of the style and to prevent frizz and matting. I understand that certain braided hairstyles makes washing the hair a bit more challenging because we want to keep the style neat for as long as possible. So, if the style you’ll be installing will make washing your hair difficult, you want to make sure that you properly clean your hair before styling it.
Also, try not to keep the style in for too long so that you can clean your hair and scalp before you start to experience any itchiness, dryness and other discomfort. A deep cleanse is also necessary for the proper uptake of the conditioning agents in the deep conditioning treatments you will be performing later on.
Products: You can use products such as **black soap or you could do a clay wash using bentonite clay or rhassoul clay. To reduce damage while cleansing, make sure you do a pre-poo treatment with coconut oil to prevent protein loss. You can also use conventional shampoos such as *Kinky Curly Come Clean, Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo or Giovanni 50:50 Balanced Hydrating-Clarifying Shampoo
Step 2 – PROTEIN TREATMENT: To prevent your hair from becoming weak and frail while it’s in braids, you’ll need to do a protein treatment with a strengthening deep conditioning treatment with ingredients such as hydrolysed protein, panthenol, collagen, keratin, and/or soy protein. The main reason why its crucial to do a protein treatment is to ensure the hair is strong enough to be able to withstand the excess weight of braids and to better withstand the over-manipulation involved with hair styling.
Products: Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner, Giovanni Smooth as Silk Conditioner or Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque, Organic Root Stimulator’s Hair Mayonnaise.
Step 3 – DEEP MOISTURE CONDITIONING TREATMENT: Most of the conditioners listed above also has moisturizing properties in them, so this step might be optional. But if you have chronically dry hair, this treatment will help to ensure that your hair stays soft, pliable and moisturized for days. Protein treatments tend to leave the hair feeling tough, so a deep moisture treatment will restore that soft and stretchy feeling we all love.
Products: Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner, Jane Carter Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner or Eden Body Works All Natural Deep Conditioner.
Step 4 – APPLY A MOISTURIZING LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER: Since most people will refrain from water in the first few days after installing a style, you want to make sure that your hair retains some moisture in the first few days of the new hairstyle.
Step 5 – LOCK & SEAL MOISTURE WITH A BUTTER (SHEA BUTTER) OR THICK OIL (CASTOR OIL): The products you choose to lock and seal your hair with will be dependent on your hair porosity, thickness and density. However, since you will be putting your hair away for a while, I suggest using thick oils and butters to lock moisture in for a longer period of time.
Step 6 – STRETCH: You might be surprised by this step and think it’s unnecessary. But to reduce breakage when you go to style your hair, you will need to stretch your hair out using heat-free techniques such as African Threading, flat twists, plaits, or with tools such as curl formers or any rollers. Stretched hair is easier and quicker to handle, plus it’s less painful to part and style the hair when it’s stretched.
Step 7: TREATMENT
Does your scalp feel extra irritated and itchy right after getting your hair braided? The truth is that many hair extension pieces are treated with harsh chemicals to preserve the hair and make them look beautiful on the shelves when you go buy them. The last thing you want after getting a cute hairstyle is an uncontrollable itch! This will mess up your hair really quickly and make your hairstyle unbearable.
To combat this, I recommend soaking your hair extension piece in a mixture of warm water and vinegar. To remove the smell, you can soak the hair in a nicely scented shampoo bath and you can also add a few drops of essential oil. After a few minutes, rinse the hair and apply a cheap conditioner to soften the hairpiece. Hang the hair to dry completely before installing it.
I usually do this treatment the night before using the hair or a few days before.
So, there you have it, seven crucial steps you need to take to get the most out of your protective style so that you can actually gain new length after you take down the style.
What steps do you take before you do a protective style?