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How to Avoid Breakage in Protective Hairstyles

With hair that sometimes feels untameable to you, or if you’re tired of trying to mold it to the style you desire, protective hairstyles come in handy.

But it’s easy to damage your hair when trying to get it to look the way you want. 

You can temporarily achieve your desired hairstyle by applying heat or hair products, but the long-term effects can lead to severe breakage.

So what are protective hairstyles, and how can you protect your hair from breaking? Let’s dive into the details.

What Are Protective Hairstyles?

Protective hairstyles keep your natural hair healthier and protect it from further damage by eliminating the need to apply heat and products daily.

There are many ways to do this and put your hair in a protective style, but they all encompass the idea of keeping your natural hair at bay.

Braids and Twists

protective hairstyle - Braids and Twists

Braids are a protective hairstyle because they require less maintenance for an extended period of time. Braids keep your hair healthy by encasing your natural hair.

Additionally, they allow you to style your hair without the need to apply shampoo, conditioner, applicators, and other products to your natural hair.

Twists are a form of braid but have almost the same effect on your natural hair. The growth allowed with braids and twists keeps your hair from long-term damage while the strands remain tucked away.


protective hairstyle - wigs

Wigs are a protective hairstyle because they cover your natural hair completely. With the proper application, wigs allow for many hairstyles depending on the hair type you choose, and they keep your natural hair safe from heat and product.


protective hairstyle - natural hair updo

Updos are a protective hairstyle because you’re simply pulling your hair back. The style is still exposed and natural. However, usually doesn’t require you to prep your hair with heat or products containing harsh chemicals.

How to Avoid Breakage in Protective Hairstyles

While these hairstyles protect your natural hair, leaving them in too long or neglecting to maintain your hair can damage your hair even more than a nonprotective hairstyle. Consult a professional cosmetologist if you are facing hair breakage at the top of your head.

Braids and Twists

Ways to Avoid Breakage in Protective Hairstyles - Braids and Twists

While you don’t have to wash your braids often, or at all, it’s crucial to take care of your scalp and keep it clean. It doesn’t matter which braid type you use, just always be sure to moisturize your scalp with braids. The skin is exposed and can dry out without proper care.

Even considering everyone’s hair is different, it’s not wise to leave braids or twists in longer than eight weeks. You can take them out before or after that time, but generally, two months is a realistic expectation for the life of your braids. Overall, keep an eye on your braids and twists, and take them out when something seems off.

Protective Styles for Women With Short Hair


It is generally recommended that you remove your wig after six weeks. Depending on the security of your laced wig or the quality of the adhesive, you may feel that you can extend the life of your wig. However, there is no movement or maintenance to your natural hair when a wig is in place, so removing it is necessary to ensure good hair health and hygiene.

That said, you must clean your hair and scalp and dry it before applying a wig to avoid bacteria from growing underneath it.  Once the six weeks are up, take the wig off and clean your hair thoroughly.


Ways to Avoid Breakage in Protective Hairstyles - Updo

Updos are easy to make and even easier to maintain a healthy look and feel. They don’t have to last as long as braids and wigs because they don’t take nearly as long to obtain.

Moisturize your hair thoroughly before putting it in an updo. Then, make sure your hair is dry when you put it up or you may block in excess oil, causing your hair to look greasy when it dries. Finally, make sure it’s pulled back comfortably and not painfully pulling at your scalp.

How to Take Down Protective Styles without Damage

While there are ways to put your natural hair safely in a protective style, there are also ways to remove them so there is no damage.

  1. Being gentle and patient with braids and twists is an easy way to avoid damage. Experts often cut the braids to where your natural hair begins as an added measure to prevent unnecessary pulling.
  2. Taking the updo down can cause a lot of damage from simply pulling at a hair tie, so to decrease damage, you can cut the hair tie and any knots that may have formed around it. Alternatively, you can put your hair up with something that ties in a knot so you can easily let it back down.
  3. To remove your wig it is a good idea to first apply adhesive remover or water to the adhesion point and massage it into your skin. Once the adhesive has loosened up a bit, you can gently begin pulling the wig away. Patience and light hands are of uppermost importance in the wig removal process. If you pull too hard, you risk damaging your hair and your skin.

Learn How to Take Down Protective Braids and Take Care of The Hair After


Here are some frequently asked questions about protective hairstyles.

Will protective styles cause hair breakage?

Yes. Protective hairstyles are designed to help your natural hair, but they can cause more damage if they’re applied or maintained improperly. To avoid hair breakage, follow the proper protocols to prep your hair for the protective style and remove the style.

Is hair loss normal after a protective style?

If you’re wearing a protective hairstyle up to the recommended time frame or past it, hair loss can happen. Hair loss commonly occurs when braids are worn longer than recommended.

There are plenty of ways to prevent hair loss, like detangling before shampooing and taking care of your scalp while you have a protective hairstyle.

How long should the break between protective styles be?

Letting your natural hair relax for at least a week before putting on another protective hairstyle is highly recommended. This would give your hair enough time to recover, especially if you suffered from some minor damage or hair loss.

Are protective styles good for hair?

Yes. With proper care and attention, protective hairstyles do their job and keep your hair healthy and safe from damage.

Protective hairstyles are great ways to pull back your natural hair. With the proper techniques and care, you can skip the constant shampooing and styling and keep your hair healthy.

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