Pro­tec­tive styling; It’s a top­ic that comes up often in nat­u­ral hair care dis­cus­sion. And while it’s a proven way to retain length and improve the qual­i­ty of nat­u­ral hair, it’s far from a nat­u­ral hair require­ment and it def­i­nite­ly rubs some nat­u­rals the wrong way. Here are 5 signs that pro­tec­tive styling is just not the thing for you…

1. Your hair can retain length without protective styling

Does your hair sprout like weeds regard­less of what you do to it? Then you, my friend, have strong hair and prob­a­bly don’t need the added “oom­ph” of pro­tec­tive styling for length reten­tion. We’ve fea­tured quite a few wom­en who don’t need pro­tec­tive styling to retain length (check out Elle, Geri and Jess).

2. You value styling over length

Why should I go nat­u­ral, only to keep my hair hid­den all the time?, is a com­mon refrain from nat­u­rals who don’t like the idea of rock­ing the same style for 1 to 2 weeks at a time. If you are one that likes to switch it up on the reg­u­lar, and ‘length goals’ aren’t a con­cern of yours, then feel free to mix it up!

3. Length is not a concern for you

This is pret­ty self explana­to­ry. Grow­ing nat­u­ral hair out is a time com­mit­ment, and so is main­tain­ing long nat­u­ral hair. While waist-length nat­u­ral Geniece recent­ly shared that main­tain­ing long hair doesn’t have to take forever, it does undoubt­ed­ly take more time than man­ag­ing short hair. If long hair main­te­nance is not your cup of tea, feel free to bypass pro­tec­tive styling.

4. Your hair is prone to locing

Have you kept your hair in a style for a few days, only to dis­cov­er that cer­tain areas start­ed loc­ing? Now of course, this would be a bless­ing if you were tran­si­tion­ing to locs, but if you plan on rock­ing loose strands, this obvi­ous­ly won’t work for you. You will either have to aban­don pro­tec­tive styling alto­geth­er, switch to loc resis­tant styles (like corn­rows or flat twists) or cut down on the num­ber of days that you keep your hair in pro­tec­tive styles.

5. You have a scalp condition

Some scalp con­di­tions, like dan­druff or pso­ri­a­sis, require you to wash and/or apply pro­duct to your scalp at an increased rate and pro­tec­tive styles can get in the way of that. Before you take on a pro­tec­tive styling reg­i­men, get your scalp con­di­tion under con­trol. And keep in mind that pro­tec­tive styling often comes with some minor pro­duct buildup on the scalp. Be sure that this won’t agi­tate any exist­ing scalp prob­lems.

Alternatives to Protective Styling

There’s more than one way to retain length. While I would ven­ture to say that for most nat­u­rals, pro­tec­tive styling will be the most effec­tive, there are still plen­ty of ways to resist break­age.

Low Manipulation Styling

So you can’t put your hair in a set of twists and leave it for two weeks… but you CAN rock styles that don’t require exces­sive tug­ging and pulling. Try as much as pos­si­ble to recy­cle styles, like con­vert­ing a sec­ond-day twistout into a bun or updo — instead of start­ing from scratch with a new style.

Decrease Combing

Comb­ing is a major cul­prit when it comes to break­age. Be sure that your comb­ing tech­nique isn’t caus­ing break­age and try to incor­po­rate fin­ger comb­ing where pos­si­ble.

Keep your Ends Stretched

Stretched ends won’t tan­gle up on each oth­er, and will ulti­mate­ly lead to less break­age. Try set­ting your ends on rollers or plac­ing your hair in ban­tu knots.

Regular Deep Treatments

Remem­ber your treat­ments! Mois­tur­ized hair is strong hair, and strong hair is break­age-proof. Incor­po­rate reg­u­lar strength and deep con­di­tion­ing treat­ments into your reg­i­men. And if your hair is shed­ding or break­ing at an increased rate, reach for the pro­tein.

Alright ladies, sound off! Is pro­tec­tive styling for you? Do you incor­po­rate it in your reg­i­men? Why or why not?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

Leave a Reply

80 Comments on "5 Signs That Protective Styling is Not For You"

Notify of
I have a love/hate feel­ing w/ ps. There’s some days when i like to do lazy styles like buns. But it’s just not flat­ter­ing & I work in the pub­lic eye. U have no idea how cru­el ppl. can b when they make com­ments about your hair, even though I think it’s beau­ti­ful. So some days I switch it up. Rock a pony & a bang or some­thing like that. Most of the time my hair is pro­tect­ed but some­times I take a day or 2 out of the week to let it breathe. Even though I get bored w/… Read more »
I don’t real­ly know if pro­tec­tive styles are for me or not. But I absolute­ly hate exten­sions! I’ve hid­den my hair for so long that I hate hav­ing to hide it more. I can not wait until my hair is long enough to wear I can do two strand twist and just styles those. I have always had very weak edges so weaves and braids are the dev­il to my hair! I still use them to retain length but def­i­nite­ly with cau­tion. I have box braids right now and i keep rub­bing cas­tor oil on my tem­ples to pre­vent them… Read more »

This arti­cle is infor­ma­tive; how­ev­er you have to do what works for YOUR HAIR! YOUR regime MUST be tweeked accord­ing­ly as hair grows in length. I CAN NOT do what I use to do 2 1/2 years ago. I CAN’T even do what I did a year ago. I wash every two weeks and wear a pro­tec­tive style; but I MUST refresh that style at least twice in between the two weeks to cut down on the knots and tan­gles.

Miu Miu Handbags

I have been absent for a while, but now I remem­ber why I used to love this site. Thank you, I?ll try and check back more often. How fre­quent­ly you update your web site?


ban­tu knots rule. Also I have pso­ri­a­sis. But LOVE WEAVE. UPART WIGS, HALF WIGS, and CLIP INS make it pos­si­ble for me to treat my hair twice a week like I like to do and also main­tain a healthy scalp. KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN SEW INS ARENT THE ONLY WAY!


Pro­tec­tive styling is some­thing I love doing, espe­cial­ly since I’m busy with school and it keeps me from touch­ing my hair. When I have a pro­tec­tive style in for too long, all I want to do is remove it and let my hair free. When­ev­er I have my nat­u­ral hair out for a long time, all I want to do is put them back in some long last­ing pro­tec­tive style. My hair will always be in braids but when I’m on vaca­tion, my hair is out.

Please check out my blog post I just wrote on why pro­tec­tive styles are not for me and yes, length is not only some­thing I already have tons of, it con­tin­ues to be my goal, as is healthy hair. I do not believe pro­tec­tive styles are nec­es­sary for retain­ing length, and I have had long hair for a long long time, and my hair grows fast. The best way to retain length is to keep your hair mois­tur­ized at all times, do not let it get dry, which I nev­er do in the first place. Micro trim your ends every… Read more »

[…] 5 Signs that Pro­tec­tive Styling Is Not for You | Black Girl … […]


I’ve got a pro­tec­tive updo now; I have pret­ty strong hair and good growth but I also know that pro­tec­tive styling done right can save time, mon­ey and ener­gy. Def­i­nite­ly not a require­ment but a rea­son­ably healthy option for hair. Lis­ten to your edges, scalp and strands and know which styles if any work for you and how you should rock them (ie. how long and in what weath­er, size of braid, for instance etc) so you don’t end up dam­ag­ing what you intend­ed protecting/help flu­o­r­ish. Hap­py Hair days to all!


I rarely wear pro­tec­tive styles. I main­ly wash and go. I can get 2nd day or 3rd day hair from a wash and go some­times. I detan­gle once a week. I feel like pro­tec­tive styles require more manip­u­la­tion, because it requires a lot more work to twist my hair up and bring it down than to pineap­ple at night.

There needs to be a way to dis­tin­guish pro­tec­tive styles with exten­sions and ones with­out. Because most peo­ple con­sid­er both indi­vid­u­al box braids and two strand twists with nat­u­ral hair as “pro­tec­tive styles” even though box braids are a major cause of ten­sion alope­cia and hair loss, while reg­u­lar two strand twists on nat­u­ral hair are far more gen­tle. I myself do not con­sid­er box braids to be a safe pro­tec­tive style because of that. But may­be that’s just because for me exten­sions don’t work well, I need access to my hair to mois­tur­ize it, my edges are sen­si­tive, and… Read more »