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6 Tips for Making Protective Styles Last a Long Time

Avatar • Oct 3, 2012


By Chinwe (pictured above) of Hair and Health

For many of us, protective styles are a great method for length retention.  Some of us have mastered wearing them for one week or even two or three.  Then you have those of us who wear them for the long term — four, five, six, or even more weeks.  So, the question is: How do we do it?  How can you master long-term protective styling?  Well, here are six tips to get you started:

1. Take baby steps

If you currently wear a protective style for one week, don’t immediately jump to a four-week routine.  Take baby steps.  Gradually increment your style duration by one week at a time and monitor your hair (especially your edges) along the way.  You have to learn what your hair can actually handle before jumping deep into it a long-term protective style.  Otherwise, you could do more harm to your tresses than good.

2. Part in small sections

When wearing twists or braids as a long-term protective style, it is better to make them small or miniature.  Bigger twists and bigger braids tend to frizz faster, thus reducing the duration of the style.  Do you love the look of mini twists but hate the single-strand knots that come with them?  Well, keep your hair stretched while wearing them or opt for mini braids instead; single-strand knots are not as prevalent with these alternatives. There is also the option of doing your twists slightly bigger – not too big, but not miniature.

3. Redo the perimeter only

Redoing the twists or braids along your hairline and nape is essential especially if your hair tends to loc easily in those regions.  This habit will help to reduce breakage and thinning edges by inhibiting meshing.  An added benefit of redoing the perimeter is that it will give your overall style a fresher appearance.  Making this method a weekly or biweekly habit will help you maintain healthy edges.

4. Use the rope/Senegalese twist method

For long-term twists, coil each of the two strands upon itself as you twist.  The coiling makes for smoother, tighter twists that last longer.  For a tutorial of the rope/Senegalese twist method, check out this video by BlackOnyx77.  Also, be sure to make your twists strong and tight as opposed to loose and weak. Naptural85 describes the “strong” twist method in further detail in the video below (starting at 1:18).

5. Keep washes to a minimum

Depending on the type, some protective styles can survive one or two washes (e.g., twists) while others can survive three or more (e.g., braids).  If you are a frequent washer, you may want to choose box braids over twists or decrease your washing frequency altogether.  The less the washing, the longer the style will last and the less likely your hair will mesh and loc.  You can keep your scalp fresh by using witch hazel or a mixture of water and an essential oil (such as tea tree or grapefruit).  Additionally, keep product usage to a minimum so that you can go longer between washes.  NOTE: If you are pregnant or have health concerns, please consult with your doctor before using an essential oil.

6. Braid your twists/braids before washing

When you do wash, performing this step will help to keep your style intact and reduce frizzing.  Just put your twists or braids into several big plaits prior to washing.  Some naturals also cover their twists or braids with a panty hose prior to washing in order to maintain their style.

Now, long-term protective styling is not for every natural, but for those who can benefit from it, these tips will hopefully come in handy.

Do you wear long-term protective styles?  Share your tips!

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About Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more! http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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Jo Somebody
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Jo Somebody

Ahhhhh! Braid your twists before washing! Top tip!

erigirl
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erigirl

but how do you make sure you get into the different rows in the scalp and make sure they’re cleaned well?

CessCurls
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CessCurls

I use a dye applicator bottle and put my heavily diluted (with water)cleanser of choice in it and apply to the the scalp between the braids with the pointy tip gently massage the scalp and rinse well making sure to get in between the braids/twists.

bzcitybeauty
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bzcitybeauty

This is exactly what I needed!!! I have been trying to get over my armpit length plateau and I had in this hairstyle with single flat twists at the front and the rest of my hair in double strand twists. This was maintained for almost 2 weeks and I guess my hair needed the rest because it flourished and I have gotten visible growth.In Belize our hair faces so much it’s unbelievable that our hair still grows and retains length. Keep this series with protective styling ideas, maintenance tips, et cetera going.

amy
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amy

I feel really happy knowing that I do ALL of these tips. I have been wearing mini twists since the summer. I believe the best way for me to learn is by trial and error. My hair gets itchy after 2 weeks and I wash my whole head even when their in twists and just re do the perimeter.

Entitled2Curls
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Entitled2Curls

Have you seen any groth wit your twist and have you the twist?

kine
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kine

hey there, I just want to say that braids or twists defiantly hands down are the reason why I am retaining fast hair length. My hair feels limp and looks bad after I style it even in low manipulation styles, therefore it breaks off or gets dry quickly which ends up breaking and I can’t retain length. Twists (mini twists) have helped retain length and grow more hair. its also easier to do treatments like deep condition with twists it allows to get to the scalp easily. You should try it for six months and see if it works for… Read more »

DreamGirl
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DreamGirl

My hair is ALWAYS in protective styles,I suck at doing my own hair and have to ask my friend to do it for me and my hair is a pain. These tips are great cause I kinda forget about my hair once its in box braids,my staple,thanks for the tips. Quick question,do you have to rinse ur hair after using the witch hazel?

Loo
Guest

Hi DreamGirl. No, you do not have to rinse your hair after using witch hazel. :o)

LaNeshe
Guest

I do all of these except the rope method. I’m afraid it would add to tangling during take down.

Jc
Guest

I wear my hair in braids full time now, I do like the ‘redo the perimeter’ tip. This is something that really helps especially the back of my head which appears to have a love affair with lint.

HelowAddicted on Youtube
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HelowAddicted on Youtube

How about how to keep our hair moisturized under braid extensions?

tishushu
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tishushu

I am wearing a protective style right now, crochet kinky twists. My hair is in cornrows, and the kinky twist hair is “crocheted” (i used a latch hook) onto my cornrows, similar to how a weave is sewn onto cornrows. I can wear these for a month. At the end of October, I’m gonna wash, dc, and do it again for November… I LOVE protective styling. And I am also glad I know about these tips.

exotikink
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exotikink

Spray with liquid leave ins, aloe vera juice or water as many times a day as you like.

Hannah Grace
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Hannah Grace

I’m mixed and my hair is an inch or two past armpit length when I straighten it. I like wearing my curls though and want it to be longer. Will this help?

Bri
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Bri

buns can be a good protective style. The good thing is you can where a bun( protecting your ends) a few days a week and let it go free the others with little to no hassle. Also, there are quite a few creative buns/updo styles if you find the traditional bun starts to get a bit boring. It’s also recommended to change the position of your bun regularly(every day or few days) so that you hair is not constantly stressed in the same place.

Bri
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Bri

*wear

laddy liberty
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laddy liberty

good ones

ImaniW
Guest
ImaniW

I can’t wait to try this!!!

Destiny
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Destiny

I have micro braids and my problem is my dry and itchy scalp. I’ve tried no rinse shampoos for my scalp to cleanup the build up. Most braid sprays for moisture that didn’t prevent the itching or flakes. I’ve even tried some grease. pls help…

Heather
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Heather

I know it’s late but you can add aloe vera juice/distilled water to a sterilized spray bottle. Then add 10 drops of tea tree and rosemary essential oil. Shake until the contents of the bottle are blended. Spray on your scalp everyday. It will help with dry scalp and itchiness tremendously

mrzwill
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mrzwill

Hi. I had a similar problem and I could not wear protective styles for any significant amount of time because of severe itching and many, many flakes. It was quite disgusting and irritating. I ended up go to my doctor and she said it was a fungus in my head that needed medicated shampoo. She prescribed Nizoral and it worked wonders. I can finally enjoy styles without the incessant itching. U may want to look into that. I had tried literally every dandruff shampoo out there and it did nothing. Tha Nizoral worked well. I still have to use it… Read more »

faithybee
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faithybee

I’m a 3b/3c hair type, I’m mixed raced and my hair is not extremley thick more like looser curls and it is just about shoulder length. Just wondering if protective styles like senegalese and kinky twists are beneficial for healthy hair and growth with 3b/3c hair?
I feel like my hair needs a bit of a rest and wanted to try a new style but I am apprehensive about how healthy it is for my hair, will it put too much strain and cause breakage?
Would really appreciate any tips/advice!

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[…] from one week to three weeks and then eventually to four or five weeks.  Check out this earlier post on how to make protective styles last a long […]

sirrena
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sirrena

Hello and greetings to everyone, I have medium curly hair and have just started to post on this site. I am natural and have been for over 13 years now. I have been overseas and my hair has mostly been under a wrap those years but when I came home to the states I unwrapped it. My hair now is just past my shoulder but I would like to see more growth. Most of the time my hair is in four twist and pinned up. I have not used a blow dryer in years and the last time I remember… Read more »

Monique
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Monique

I might try this. I use to wear small twists but went to big daily twist for easier maintenance. I don’t have much breakage but growth is slow. Thanks I’ll try this regiment.

Aly
Guest
Aly

I don’t think I could wear long term protective styles cause I need wet my hair daily and co-wash 2x to 3x per week. I prefer 1 week styles. I pretty gentle with my hair and don’t use combs or other tools, so I’m okay with that.

michael kors outlet online
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Wow, this post is pleasant, my sister is analyzing such things, thus
I am going to convey her.

Helga
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Helga

I have 4c hair and I wear my hair in braids, with extensions, for 4 months at a time. During that time I don’t do anything to my hair other than use a bit of braid spray from time to time. I don’t even wash it. When intake my braids down, I always have soft healthy hair and a healthy scalp. I tried having twists once, but found that my hair used to lock, so now I just stick with braids. I’ve been transitioning from relaxed hair for a year now, and the braids have done my natural hair the… Read more »

reasonbomb
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reasonbomb

Hi, Yeah currently I’m at four months with my kinky twists. I usually take them down by month three, but due to my school and work schedule I don’t have the time to take it down or spent an hour each night twisting it. My 4C hair is prone to SEVERE tangling and gathering dirt and lent. So I started washing it after three weeks.Then started washing every two weeks, with a deep condition on the third wash. If I don’t wash my hair not only gets tanlged but becomes filled with lent and dirt clumps near where my extensions… Read more »

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[…] usual, my fave natural hair site had some great articles, especially: 6 Tips for Making Protective Styles Last a Long Time & 5 Signs That Protective Styling is Not For […]

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