By Cipri­ana of

Pro­tec­tive styling has been my sav­ing grace and my genie in a bot­tle for retain­ing length in the 5 years I have been nat­u­ral, but like any­thing in life, good can be used for evil. Ok, may­be that is a lit­tle dra­mat­ic but you get what I mean. With all the advan­tages that pro­tec­tive styling brings, the dis­ad­van­tages can be just as potent! Here are five huge mis­takes to avoid when it comes to pro­tec­tive styling.

1. Excessive Manipulation

Try­ing to achieve the frizz free twist and braid by re-twisting/braiding every day or every oth­er day sim­ply defeats the pur­pose of pro­tec­tive styling. If you are find­ing it hard to like your twists or braids after 2–3 days and your hair is at least medi­um length, a loose updo style such as a bun or french twists may work bet­ter for you ver­sus braids or twists, since the lat­ter cause much more manip­u­la­tion to redo every cou­ple of days.

2. Too Much Protection

As the say­ing goes “too much of a good thing is bad”. This could not ring more true when it comes to pro­tec­tive styling. Leav­ing your pro­tec­tive style in for too long can wreak hav­oc on your strands. Not only is more time and patience required for detan­gling, detan­gling also becomes more dif­fi­cult because of the accu­mu­la­tion of shed hair and buildup.

3. Neglect

Some­times peo­ple for­get that pro­tec­tion is noth­ing with­out upkeep. Mak­ing sure your hair is mois­tur­ized with water, you are keep­ing scalp/hair buildup at a min­i­mum and seal­ing in mois­ture. The­se pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures help retain length and keep break­age at bay.

4. Tension Overload

Some­thing as sim­ple as pulling your hair too tight with hair bands can cause break­age. Exces­sive pulling on the roots while putting in a pro­tec­tive style can cause tem­po­rary to irrepara­ble dam­age like trac­tion alope­cia. Also watch the amount of human or syn­thet­ic hair you are adding to your hair if braid­ing or twist­ing. Too much bulk cre­ates ten­sion that can cause break­age to your edges and oth­er areas.

5. Size Does Matter

When it comes to braids and twists left to idle for an extend­ed amount of time, size most cer­tain­ly mat­ters! The small­er the braid or twist the eas­ier it is for the strands to tan­gle in small­er sec­tions, lead­ing to faster loc­ing and buildup accu­mu­la­tion. If you’re plan­ning on rock­ing a pro­tec­tive style for a cou­ple of months, be sure to stick with medi­um sized or large braids or twists. It will have you prais­ing the heav­ens above when it comes to detan­gling time.

Ladies, what errors do you try to avoid when pro­tec­tive styling? 

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23 Comments on "5 Errors that Can Cause Breakage in Protective Styles"

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Whooo rea­son #1 gave me so much trou­ble last year! I decid­ed to wear a flat twist updo for about a mon­th last sum­mer (sum­mer school at 8 a.m. to 12 then work right after. Who has time to do hair??) 

Rather than leave my hair alone, I re-twist­ed it EVERY morn­ing, to achieve that “just fin­ished” look. Imag­ine doing this for 2 months ladies.…

Once August came, my hair was so brit­tle, so dry, and so ugly. I’ve nev­er seen so many split ends before in my life.

I wish I read this arti­cle before attempt­ing my old style!

I get my hair plait­ed with exten­sions now that i’m 9 months post relax­er, i keep my braids in for a min­i­mum of 2 months but make sure my hair gets at least 2 months breather when i take them out. To me braids are low manip­u­la­tion, and i get them done because i was manip­u­lat­ing my hair way too much, which is not good for tran­si­tion­ing hair which is weak. And twist outs lead to soo many knots. But i’ve nev­er had any prob­lem with break­age or hair loss, prob­a­bly coz i nev­er tie my hair up when hav­ing… Read more »
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lumi­nox ?? ???? ??? ??


Love your tips — prac­ti­cal and accu­rate! I think this also serves as an eye-open­er because most peo­ple do not pay too much atten­tion to whether they are get­ting their pro­tec­tive styling done. 

If you or your read­ers are inter­est­ed, we got more prac­ti­cal hair care tips at Hope to see you there!

Well my hair is so fine and soft I think I have to give up on pro­tec­tive styling all togeth­er. I have nev­er seen so much break­age and mid­shaft split­ting and I wear hair friend­ly acces­sories, like silk scrunchies and clips. I have final­ly decid­ed today to let my hair loose because it seems like every day I am dust­ing out mid­shaft splits, then they look like they are fair­ly gone. I put my hair up in a loose bun to “pro­tect” it and when I take it down I see new ones. I think that with all the con­di­tion­er… Read more »

I wear pro­tec­tive styles all the time and wash once a week. When I’m going out I add mois­ture like a leave in con­di­tion­er (spray) and hair lotion. Is there any­thing else I should be doing? Ive seen peo­ple talk about spray­ing water, does the leave in take the place of that or should I use water as well? Every­day? Thanks :)


I found num­ber 1 to be interesting…I braid and seal my hair every night, to pre­vent tan­gling and to pro­tect my ends. The braids are medi­um sized and loose, so hope­ful­ly my “rou­tine” is still ok. If I’m wrong let me know, open to sug­ges­tions:)


is putting braids straight back in after tak­ing them out also a big no-no?


idk i usu­al­ly give mine a break in between. plus i’m usu­al­ly too lazy to put them in again rt after tak­ing them down. depends on how healthy/resistent your hair is. mine i don’t think could take that too well but yours may­be could


I have fine hair that’s a lit­tle more wavy than tight­ly curled, so twists and twists don’t look good on me all the time. Right now my pro­tec­tive style is my hair part­ed down the mid­dle and braid­ed in two, with the braids pinned up. It looks good enough with my big ear­rings, lol. I don’t care too much for exten­sions, and I wash/condition once a week.

But I’m curi­ous what oth­er wom­en with hair like mine do for pro­tec­tive styling. So if any­one with hair sim­i­lar to mine is read­ing this, what do you do? Which pro­tec­tive styles do you prefer?


I wear a bun. I have real­ly fine, long hair and the key to wear­ing a bun is as fol­lows:

1. Use good judg­ment. If your bun feels tight or hurt­ing at all, you need to adjust it. 

2. Some­times wear a high bun, some­times wear a low bun. 

3. Use gen­tle bob­by pins to secure your hair and be gen­tle when insert­ing them. 

4. Make sure your hair is mois­tur­ized. Now that I use glyc­er­in and wear a bun, I don’t have to mois­tur­ize my hair con­stant­ly to no avail. You don’t want to over mois­tur­ize because that can cause weak hair and break­age.

My hair is like yours, but I nev­er real­ized it until recent­ly. I always thought my hair was thick just because of how poofy and big it would get when in the humid­i­ty or when blown dry. But I can not wear my own hair in twists or braids as a pro­tec­tive style because I real­ly see how fine my hair looks. They make me look bald, like the twists show more scalp than hair. : ( So, my “go to” pro­tec­tive style is def­i­nite­ly a wide series of updos. Now I don’t know where ppl get the idea that pro­tec­tive styles are… Read more »

Know what Curvy­Curly­Girl? I shall try your sug­ges­tions, thank you!

I’d love to see some pic­tures of your styles, I hope you’ll post some some­time.


my looser tex­tures do not like to stay twist­ed and they tend to look scalpy espe­cial­ly since my hair is short. I also feel lim­it­ed because of my length (not yet long enough to bun). Most twist­ed updos i see that i can achieve with my length are not my style. There are oth­ers that, no mat­ter how many times i try them, do not come out a suc­cess. I’ve spent count­less hours dur­ing the week try­ing to do pro­tec­tive styles to cut down on manip­u­la­tion, because I can tell that it is tak­ing a toll on my hair. none… Read more »

What about keep­ing your hair in a pro­tec­tive for a week or so? Then tak­ing it down and wash­ing it? Is that too long? Also, I am one of those folks who sees fuzz after the sec­ond day of wear­ing my hair in twist. After day 6, when I go to wash my hair, I see a lot of shed­ding. Am I dam­ag­ing my hair? Should I take my hair down as soon as I see fuzz to pro­tect it from dam­age?


i cur­rent­ly have medi­um sized box braids but im more wor­ried about tak­ing them down when the time comes. i would love to see an arti­cle on nat­u­ral hair post-braids so i know if im detangling/washing/trimming it right after such a long time braid­ed up.

Off top­ic but I curi­ous Is twist and braids con­sid­er pro­tec­tive style even with­out exten­sions? Because the ends aren’t pro­tect­ed. Wouldn’t the exten­sion free ver­sion be con­sid­er low manip­u­la­tion styles because once they styled you don’t real­ly have to do restyle them for a while?  More thing what do peo­ple real­ly con­sid­er low manip­u­la­tion? Because I almost cer­tain out that braids and twists (and new­ly intro­duced, but clas­sic African Thread­ing) are take the most time and manip­u­la­tion of the hair than any oth­er then any oth­er way of styling nat­u­ral hair, real­ly what else real­ly takes longer then those type of… Read more »
I con­sid­er twists and braids to be low manip­u­la­tion, but if you style the braids or twists with the ends hid­den (like a bun) then it is also a pro­tec­tive style. Even though braids and twists may take longer to com­plete, if you leave them in for a few days or longer then it pre­vents unnec­es­sary manip­u­la­tion and break­age. I know for me per­son­al­ly, fin­ger detan­gling and twist­ing my hair into about 16–24 twists (depend­ing on how tired I feel) takes about 45 min­utes to an hour. Even though it takes that long to do them, it saves me time… Read more »

wow messed up the last para­graph, lets try this again shall we.

One more thing, what do peo­ple real­ly con­sid­er low manip­u­la­tion style? Because I am almost cer­tain that braids and twists (and new­ly intro­duced, but clas­sic African Thread­ing) take the most time and manip­u­la­tion than any oth­er way of styling nat­u­ral hair. Real­ly what else real­ly takes longer then Twist, Braids, and African Thread­ing? (No real­ly, I am gen­uine­ly ask­ing the­se ques­tions out curios­i­ty and clar­i­fi­ca­tion)


i think how many twists/plaits/braids you put your hair into mat­ter as well. i redo my plaits in the morn­ing every oth­er day because i don’t put that many in to start with. if you’re only doing four big plaits or twists just to give your hair shape, you prob­ly aren’t los­ing that much hair, may­be just one bro­ken hair, may­be two? at least for me. i don’t put 16–24 or even more than about ten in because that would take me too much time and i’m very much lo-manip.


I think its because once your hair is styled in twists or braids (and assum­ing you dont braid/twist out then re twist every day) its low manip­u­la­tion because the day you styled is the only time you would real­ly be manip­u­lat­ing your hair until your next wash day. Like for me my twists lasts a week so thats one week of not touch­ing my hair oth­er than spritz­ing when it gets dry


Am too lazy for #1 and i have to wash my hair atleast once a week or my scalp will wreak hav­oc so #2 is out the way.…i think i do more of #3.…i guess i did­nt think it was nec­es­sary since my hair usu­al­ly feel dehy­drat­ed 1–2 days before my wash day.…i usu­al­ly just spritz my hair when feels that way but i nev­er seal again only be cuz i dont feel like oil the ends of all 30–40 twists >_> lol good info tho and ill def keep that in mind


#2 is the big one I try to avoid. Pro­tec­tive styles that are left in too long result in locking/meshing for me. Thus, when I take down the style, break­age can occur. It then defeats the pur­pose of “pro­tec­tive” styling.