We get it – as much as you love your natural curls, sometimes it’s fun to change it up. Whether you’re looking for some time off from the daily upkeep of natural hair, trying to encourage hair growth, or just love to change up your look: with the proper care and maintenance, protective styles can be a great way to give your curls a break.

As the name suggests, protective styles such as braids, twists, or bantu knots can help protect your natural hair and scalp from stressors such as over-manipulation, extreme weather, and excess product. However, these protective styles can become counterproductive if not looked after properly, so it’s crucial to keep your natural hair hydrated and moisturized to avoid breakage.

If you’re planning on having a protective style installed on your natural hair, here are our top tips to keep those curls luscious.

It’s In The Prep

Before your protective styling, take the time to give your hair the full spa treatment. Fresh, hydrated hair will last longer and look healthier in those box braids or faux locs.

Cleanse Well

Use a clarifying shampoo to thoroughly cleanse your curls and scalp to remove any product build up. This may be the last time your hair and scalp gets a proper wash for the next few weeks, so starting fresh will make the whole process more comfortable.

Nourish Deeply

Apply a deep conditioner or hot oil treatment to your freshly washed hair to help hydrate and strengthen your curls or coils. This will help your natural hair withstand the manipulation of the styling process and stay looking healthy.

Apply A Lightweight Leave-In

When prepping your hair for a protective style, your usual curling creams may be too rich. Excess product on the hair and scalp can lead to product build up that weighs down your curls.

Instead, try a lightweight leave-in conditioner like our Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Weightless Oil Mist. Infused with the nourishing blend with coconut milk, guava extract and mango butter, this mist formula won’t weigh the hair down. Spray it through damp hair before styling your curls in a light twist – this will keep your hair detangled and hydrated before your hair appointment.

Caring For Your Protective Style

While generally easier to manage than curls, protective styles need daily care, too. To keep your natural hair healthy-looking and make your protective style last, make sure to be extra gentle to your scalp, roots, and edges.

Refresh Your Scalp

You may not be able to fully shampoo your hair when it’s in a protective style, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cleanse your scalp of any product build up. Use shampoo wipes or a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse every two to three weeks to help clear any build up.

Keep Your Real Hair Moisturized

Even when your curls are safely tucked into a protective style, they can still be at risk of drying out. To prevent this, make sure to frequently apply a lightweight conditioner to your natural hair. Our Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Weightless Oil Mist is a great option at this step in your routine too, as it’s light enough to use every few days.

Go Easy On The Edges

If you’re getting your hair done by a stylist, ask them to leave your edges out and let them know if they feel too tight! The edges are very delicate and excess tension can lead to breakage. To smooth your edges, try our new Flaxseed Edge Control infused with flaxseed, coconut water, and citrus oil. It’s perfect for day 1 of your protective style, or whenever your edges need a refresh.

Sleep Easy

A lot of the damage and frizz that can make a protective style less-than-fresh are caused by tossing and turning overnight. To maintain your style and keep edges looking neat, try sleeping on a satin pillowcase and wearing a satin bonnet or scarf to hold your edges in place. A trick that works especially well for braids is to apply a small amount of our Flaxseed Edge Control before tightly wrapping your hair in a scarf to avoid any rubbing or friction while you sleep.

Taking Out Your Protective Style

Know When It’s Time

Even your most favorite styles will come to an end! Factors like hair scalp build up and frizz are signals that it’s time to remove your protective style. Each style has a different life span, and respecting this will make sure that the style keeps working for your hair, not against it. If you’re planning on going straight to a new protective style, a great rule of thumb is to try a new style to prevent over-manipulation and repeated stress on the same parts of your scalp.

Gently, Gently

Taking out your protective style requires the same amount of care that your install took. It’s important to go slowly, and use a tool such as a rat tail comb to help unravel braids and twists. As you work, apply some lightweight hydration like our Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Weightless Oil Mist (it really is your best friend at every step!) This will loosen things up and help detangle as you unravel braids or twists.

Nourish Deeply, Again!

Give your hair the same spa treatment that you gave it right before your protective style. Use a conditioner to detangle your hair, cleanse your curls and scalp with a clarifying shampoo, and nourish your locks with a deep conditioner or oil treatment to add hydration. With the right products and techniques, protective styles will help support your natural hair to look luscious and strong, while also being a fun way to express yourself with your natural hair. From using different colored extensions to braiding patterns, the options are endless to find a style that boosts your confidence while supporting your naturally curly hair. With the right products and techniques, protective styles will help support your natural hair to look luscious and strong.

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