How Protective Styling Could Be Doing More Harm Than Good In Your HHJ

African American woman with curly brown braids2. Braiding technique

Suffice to say, tight braiding along the delicate front hairline leads to hair loss known as traction alopecia. Along the same lines, tight braiding along the shaft of the hair keeps the hair under intense tension for the duration of the style after which during take down you will notice intense breakage and thinning.

In this case protective styling will have done you more harm than good. If you braid your own hair learn to use a light hand while braiding or if you cannot then get someone else to do the braiding for you.

Be very careful when getting your hair braided even by a professional and don’t be afraid to speak up if you think that they are braiding too tight.

3. How long?

A friend of mine told me a while ago that she’d had major breakage and matting after her last weave. When I asked her how long she’d had the weave in for, without batting a eyelid she said 5 months.

Come on now, it’s not difficult to see the problem there is it? When you keep a weave in for that long, the shed hair that is not able to fall out combined with the build up from months of sweat, natural oils and products cause extreme matting.


The breakage you are likely to experience while detangling that mess will likely offset any growth you gained while ‘protecting’ your hair hence it will seem like your growth has stagnated.

For most people I would suggest 6-8 weeks as an absolute maximum for any braided protective style and only 6 weeks if you have very kinky high shrinkage hair as this hair type is quite prone to matting.

4. Timing

When you braid your hair is every bit as important as how long you keep the braided style in for. For example, braiding immediately after relaxing your hair is a huge no no. After a relaxer your hair has lost a lot of amino acids, notably cysteine during the chemical process and until this is restored by way of a hard protein treatment, don’t even think about braiding your hair.

Natural ladies should also make sure that their moisture-protein balance is in check before braiding. Personally I like to do a light protein deep conditioning treatment before every braiding session. Your hair is going to go through stress during braiding and fortifying it beforehand makes perfect sense.

5. Your hair type

No I don’t mean the 4a, 4b, 3c hair typing thing. I mean the thickness of your individual strands. If you have fine hair, the minimum of manipulation is what’s needed to get your hair to grow long so you may find that braided protective styles just won’t help you retain length.

If you choose braided styles, make the braids big and relatively loose and keep them in for at least a few weeks at a time to avoid excessive installs & take downs. If you have thicker strands, your hair can withstand more manipulation without excessive breakage so you will be able to get away with shorter periods between re-styling sessions.

In conclusion…

Braided protective styles are the best at keeping the ‘hand in hair syndrome’ at bay for a few weeks at a time and as such allows you to retain the most length. But if you are still experiencing breakage or thinning after braided protective styling, then low manipulation styles may be the best way forward.

Think high buns, braid outs & twist outs, faux bobs, ponytails or updo’s. You won’t be able to retain as much length as you can with braided styles so you may not be able to reach your own terminal length but you can still achieve wonderful length retention if you use low manipulation styling wisely in your regimen.

Originally posted 2014-03-04 15:00:25.

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About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

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Comments

  1. Nessa Rene
    Nessa Rene'e

    I’ve had my hair in 2 French braids for 3 days and it’s time for me to take them out and wash. I could never keep a style for weeks because my scalp gets so oily.

  2. Sherelle Hendrix
    Sherelle Hendrix

    Some things I can agree with but you would just have to be smart about how you do your hair (not tight etc), the right time frame to leave your hair in a protective style, and maintenance.

  3. Serresa Rider
    Serresa Rider

    I asked before about putting styling gel in my hair keeping it in a ponytail could that be one of the reasons my hair isn’t growing like I want it to or as fast

    1. Jamillah Davis
      Jamillah Davis

      Yep! slapping gel in hair and keeping it pulled back in a ponytail is not a protective style. Gel can cause dryness and breakage, not to mention you could be causing stress to your hair fro the constant tension of wearing a ponytail.

  4. Crystal Marincess Compton
    Crystal Marincess Compton

    Last summer I had my hair braided and when I took them out in August i found my ends to be ravaged. I had to trim it. Also I found caring for my hair more difficult despite my best efforts. I want to try it again but worried it really wont be a benefit.

  5. Ni-Ni Henderson
    Ni-Ni Henderson

    Different experiences for everyone. And depending on how protective styles are achieved, maintained, and removed can also be a determining factor in the outcome of the overall health of your hair…

  6. Karen Baker

    Love my hair in braids. My hair seems to grow faster and I moisturize daily. I like alternating between braids and twists. I just braided my hair yesterday and I love it!

  7. Malakah Angellia Gladston
    Malakah Angellia Gladston

    Great article. Now I only keep mines in for 3 weeks at a time. No matter how much oil I put on my scalp EVERYDAY, my scalp itch. I wash my hair weekly, spritz the hair with water & conditioner mix. I installed the braids myself so they’re not tight, but still refused to leave em in longer than 3 wks, 4 wks is my maximum until my hair start to get matted .

  8. Malakah Angellia Gladston
    Malakah Angellia Gladston

    But this routine gives me length. I just started this routine about 6 months ago but notice the amount of length I can retain just by doing this.

  9. Kelly-Ann Payne
    Kelly-Ann Payne

    Well, I don’t do my own braids because I don’t know how and I go to a professional who’s very gentle. There’s nothing wrong with individual braids. If I knew how to braid, I would take them out, but I don’t, so I’ll take care of them until my hair grows back. Not everybody that wears braids has a bad experience, so don’t try and discourage those that wear them.

  10. Kelly-Ann Payne
    Kelly-Ann Payne

    And not everybody gain weight back after weight loss. I struggle with depression, which affects my weight, not because I eat badly at all or on purpose. And try to be active as much as I can.

  11. Aliyah Morrison

    I have to braid my hair or have my mom do it . I wear cornrow braids now and I tried two strand twists now . I tried weaves and braid extensions before but my hair was ichy I had dandruff and it broke my hair off i also hate fake hair so I don’t do it anymore .

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