When Protective Styling is NOT Protective: 9 Reasons

"Want long hair? , do protective styling!" many would hair gurus would recommend. But hold up, before you call your stylist or jump on the bandwagon, make sure you read these 9 reasons why protective styling may not give you long hair, but the opposite instead. Protective styling can be a hit or miss; it could also be beneficial or detrimental depending on the individual and/or style chosen.

So when is protective styling not protective? 

1. You don't take care of your hair while it's being "protected". 
I can say that the main reason why 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. I'm sorry but your hair still needs care (wash, deep condition, and moisturize) while it's being protected. 

2. Your REAL hair takes a back seat so your synthetic hair can shine. 
It's not uncommon 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 as long as the weave or braids looks okay, then their hair is okay. I'm 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 why you shouldn't wash, condition and moisturize your hair while it's under a weave. The end result of failing to do this is dry and weak hair which will easily break off when the style is being taken down. 

3. Your stylist trims the hair that's sticking out of a braid (corn rows, 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 this 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 upon removing the style. 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 thread or do a blow out so your hair is less frizzy and ready to be styled. 

yay or nay?
4. Your braid is too heavy. 
I still don't understand why anyone would carry a 20 pound hair on their head and think it's stylish. When the hair is parted very tiny and braided with a chunky and long synthetic hair, the end result would be bald spots, particularly if you have weak hair. Long box braids are okay if your hair is parted very big. The reason for this is because a thicker chord is more stronger than a thinner one, and so, your hair will have more support when the braid is morphed into a variety of up-do styles. If you must do long and chunky braids, I suggest you opt for lighter hair such as Marley hair. 

5. Your braid is too tiny
Again, who needs a million braid? Personally, I've never found the style stylish, but quite frightening. Hair that is parted very tiny and braided with a heavy braid can be easily pulled and uprooted each time the braid is manipulated and put into different styles. 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's inevitable that you'll have product or dirt build up at the roots. Since the hair was parted very tiny, I can imagine more hair loss (shedding and breakage) taking place as you try to remove the buildup, and since many of us like to use combs, particularly fine tooth combs, it's very easy to pull and break off many healthy hair in the process.  

6. Braid is too tight
We all know the consequence of tight hairstyles, so I don't need to elaborate on this. 

7. You cut off your hair when taking down your braid
I can still remember the time one of my sisters gave herself a messy haircut when she cut off her hair with the braid, so as to reduce the time spent on loosening her braid. I have cut off braids on my hair many times without using a mirror because I know the length of my hair. If you don't know the length of your hair, it's best to probably cut only a few inches of the braid off and spend the extra time loosing your hair.

8. You have an Impatient and Ignorant Stylist
There is nothing more detrimental to the hair than an impatient and ignorant hair stylist who insists on combing dry coily hair with a fine tooth comb, or who wants to do a blow out on dry hair with the wrong tool and without a heat protectant. Should I add the same hair stylist would rip through the hair when parting, and style your hair aggressively because you "refuse" to perm your hair? To avoid this, simply AVOID such hair stylists, and if you are visiting a stylist first time, even with a reference from another natural, I recommend you stretch your hair before going so it's "easier" to work with. Stretched hair is always easier to work with and doesn't cause as much breakage as coiled hair, so it's always best to stretch your hair out before styling it.

9. You do the same style each time
While there's no scientific proof for this, I however believe installing Ghana cornrows, box braids, million twists, and any type of corn row through out the 12 months of the year will weaken the hair strands. This can also be detrimental to the overall health of your hair if your hair is always braided too tight each time. 

Take Home Point
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 its out and free, try out different hair care recipes, techniques, styles and products in your hair. And most importantly, it allows you to get to know YOUR hair at the current length it's in. It wouldn't make sense to finally achieve your hair length goal and not know what to do with it. 

I  personally haven't noticed a significant difference in the growth of my hair when I have it braided for a month, but I've noticed that I lost less hair and retain more hair when I wash, condition and moisturize my hair when it's "protected" 

What other reason would you add to this list? 

FYI, I'm holding a giveaway contest on my blog for the month of July, please go here to read contest rules and here to enter. 


The Mane Captain


  1. what do you do to your hair most of the time then? Right now, I have my hair in braids because I feel like when I detangle my hair when it's out I lose too much hair. I comb my hair practically daily when it's out because people say it's unkempt if I don't. So, sometimes I'm at a loss at what to do so I just put it in braids to avoid all the trouble of styling it and hearing negative comments

  2. Hi Tunrayo, Thanks for the question. I plan to have a follow up post to this post to show how you can really benefit from protective styling.
    1. I actually wrote a post some time ago about the No Nos of combing afro hair, please make sure you read this post http://www.africanaturalistas.com/2013/06/5-reasons-why-your-afro-natural-hair.html
    Your hair doesn't need to be combed daily or detangled daily, or else you'll have stagnant hair growth retention.
    2. There are many styles you could wear your hair in so it's presentable. We posted a few "short hairstyles" on here for style inspiration, given you have short hair.
    3. I can say that many Black people are still ignorant when it comes to their own hair, and so they'll give you ignorant advice which is damaging to your hair. I'll advice you to stop listening to such people and educate yourself with sites such as this and mine instead.
    4. If your goal is length retention, you will have to make sure you don't practice any of the 9 points mentioned above, so you can really benefit from your braids.

    I hope i've answered your question. For specific responses, please feel free to message me on my blog at themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

  3. very good...i did dreads one tym...i wanted to die wen i was loosning it coas my sis cut my hair in the process...alotta hair...it was sad

  4. Great article. Number two sums me up I'm ashamed to say. It was all about my braids looking 'hot', damn my own hair.

    I've been wearing single plait braids with a middle parting for two decades. I didn't really think about my own hair at all. Braids have been a double edged sword for me because I started wearing braids due to a bad relaxer under my weave and I suffered hair loss. My hair did grow back but because of neglect it never retains its length due to poor maintenance of my own hair.

    I just didn't think of my own hair until I took the braids out two and a half months later.

    Things have come to a head as my edges started to thin beginning of the year, but grew back a bit and then regressed. My edges are now really thin and am suffering from loss around the temples I still got braids though about four weeks ago! That's all I know. However, I took out the braids around my edges and I'm using castor oil daily followed by a massage. I have also started a maintenance regime. It's been four weeks now and my hair around the edges look thicker and less fragile than when I took out the braids.

    I've decided that I'm going to take my braids out soon and try wearing wigs for a while. After twenty years my natural hair needs a break from braids.

    I have been to braiders who are are brilliant at doing braids but do not have a clue about natural hair! The last trip to the hairdresser was traumatic. It took more than eleven hours and I thought to myself I am not putting myself through that again. Also I asked the braider to leave the edges out but she ignored me! Never again. Although having thinning edges is scary and has caused me distress I'm glad it has happened because it has forced me to start to take care of the hair growing out of my scalp. Better late than never.

    Thanks for this post.

    PS do you think I have any relaxer in my hair after twenty years? My hair has the same texture throughout. When I wash it I suffer from 75 per cent shrinkage. It was only the hairline that was relaxed to cover the weave tracks.

    Thanks for reading.

    1. Hi Tori. youve come to the right place. I suggest putting the braids down for a few months and get to know your hair. after 20years, you shouldnt have relaxed hair, because it would have broken off gradually or been trimmed, if you do trim. the fact that your hair shrinks when wet proofs that.
      Also, relaxing your edges just so your synthetic hair can shine is a very bad haircare habit. I think you should fire all your hairstylists and get educated about your own hair.
      You can search through this blog or my blog on washing, conditioning, deep conditioning, moisturizing, sealing and styling your natural hair without any extensions. I also recently blogged about synthetic hair being a destructive hairstyle in the post below. you should read it.

      you can send me a message via my blog for further clarification


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