By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom

Long term protective styles which are kept in place for several weeks are excellent for promoting hair growth retention.  After keeping a style for that long, the horror story  is to end up having a difficult time taking down the style and ending up with hair on the floor rather than on your head. Here are my tips on how to minimise breakage from long term protective styles and keep the hair that you worked hard to retain.

1. Know your limits: Do not keep the style for too long

Depending on your hair texture (whether it is kinky or curly or both , whether individual strands  tend to mesh or not, whether your strands are fine or average or thick, whether your hair shrinks when washed or not), you will have a limit as to how long you can keep the protective style. For most textures this is 2-4 weeks for twists or cornrows, it is important to remember that the hair is not as tightly compacted with twists  and therefore if your hair tends to mesh , it is important not to keep the style for overly long especially if you are regularly wetting the hair. For braids this can extend to 8 weeks depending on the hair texture (kinky hair usually handles braids better), braid size (small braids usually last longer than thicker ones), installation and care for the hair around the perimeter (redoing the perimeter every 2-3 weeks is usually advised).

2. Condition your hair before the take down

Most naturals tend to wait to take down the protective style before giving hair a proper wash and condition. My tip is to do this on the day before the takedown.  If you normally condition your hair for 10-20 minutes, then try to go for 20 minutes. If you like to deep condition with heat, then do so. The reason for conditioning prior to taking down is to essentially use the hair conditioner to soften hair and add moisture to it. The day immediately after conditioning, hair will be flexible but strong as it will be moisturised but not wet. It will also have deposits on the surface from the conditioner which soften the strands which further allow them to bend easily.  Hair is therefore in the most ideal state to resist breakage from the comb stabbing at the braid/twist and also any stretching and pulling. You can wash and condition your hair again once the style has been taken down especially if you have smaller twists or braids and may therefore not have accessed your scalp properly.

3. Unravel rather than comb

You can use a rat tail comb to undo your protective style but if your twists or braids were properly installed it is often much kinder and gentler to unravel your hair. In a good installation the two strands that are wrapped around each to make a twist or the three strands for braiding are kept separate without needing to feed some hair from one into the other . This minimises meshing of hair which can be further aggravated by washing and shrinkage of the protective style. If you find yourself needing to use a rat tail comb quite often beyond  2 inches of your ends (often it is hard to avoid meshing at the very end), you  should consider practising and perfecting your installation technique.

4. The usual suspects

Slip is essential especially at the ends of twists or braids. Use whatever is your favourite product which will allow your hair to feel slippery and let strands glide past each other . This can be oil, leave in conditioner, diluted rinse out conditioner, spray bottle with water and oil or a concoction of your choice.

Click to the next page for a detailed takedown video tutorial.

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42 Comments on "How To Take Down Braids and Twists Without Experiencing Breakage"

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Keshia

This was a very helpful site, Im about to take down kinky twist that I have not washed & had in for almost 3 months. I am very nervous, I want to lose as less hair as possible. I am definitely going to use the conditioner suggest in hopes at minimizing the loss & breakage. Thank you again everyone.

Professional Hair Detanglers
Professional Hair Detanglers

No matter if you wear your braids or weaves for more than 3 months or consecutively without giving you hair a break-safe and proper removal is key. So many people rush to remove their hairstyles and make mistakes that cause the hair at the roots to matt or tangle with the ends. We have to train hairdressers how to prevent these horrible mishaps. We only use the Take Down Remover/Detangler because it works on all types of hair textures and types.

We hope the video helps

Delia

I usually lose a bunch of hair when I just rush through it or try to comb down the twists, whether they are synthetic or my own hair. I probably should be taking them down with my hands after conditioning. I used to just spray with water and now I’m thinking it might be smarter to do the deep -con prior to take down, especially before a trim. I used to compensate by waiting a day or two and then doing an intense moisture treatment. These tips seem much smarter!

NewbieNatural

I want to know. Is it a bad idea to get a sew in after taking down box braids?

Delia

I would think so if it’s within the same month. The hair has already been pulled and tugged on for the individuals so I usually rest about a month before I let someone tug on my head again. Also, with back to back protective styles, sometimes the stylist will do them too tightly and this can result in more breakage than what would come from the manipulation alone.

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Hyspin

I have braid extensions in just over 2 months now since my rate of growth (not my retention) is only quarter inch a month I only half an inch of showing (it really looks like less than quarter because of the curl), is it possible tha I could push this style to 4-5 months instead of the 2-3 months? It will probably take 4 months or so to get long enough to start to matte.

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E. Joseph

I Often Loose Hair When The Clumps of Dirt and Product Get To Hard To Break. I Use a Mix of Conditioner Baking Soda and Warm Water To Break The Dirt and Slip The Braids Out. It Works Good.

Patricia Kayden

I’m about to take my braids out after close to 2 monhts. Will definitely put in some conditioner before I take them down. Great idea.

Chris

I have had single braids in my hair for over four months now, washing them with a cleansing conditioner every two weeks. I have started taking them out but I cannot get the knots out of my real hair and I’m fearing that all of my hair will come out. What should I do!!!? HELP!

Ashley

Lots of conditioner, work slowly , with a fine tooth comb from bottom to top.

Mani
I recently got twists and kept them in for two months. (I was going to go for three, but with the braid spray they were slipping off) I had slight matting only at the edges where my hair is very, very fine. The rest I was able to finger comb and remove most of the dirt I then combed through each area starting at the ends and worked my way to the root. Two previous attempts at braids had ended in disaster as I lost most my length and had to start over. This time I will have it redone… Read more »
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Amil d.

Hi, has anyone ever took down dreadlocks before. I had them for 6 years and I’m ready for a change. I love my hair a lot so I don’t want to cut it off. Please my hair is at it’s best. I already plan to keep it all natural once I taken them down. So if anybody has any advice or experience with my situation, please share your comments. Thanks everyone:)

Elle
I took down my 3 1//2 year old locks from novem 21- december 21. it was a 1 month process because i had finals and work. the tools you’ll need: a LOT of conditioner a spray bottle for water combs of varying teeth widths, but the one you’ll use most is a fine rat tail comb. and PATIENCE!!!! saturate each loc with a slippery conditioner and water. take your time and comb from the bottom to the top. keep your ends stretched as you comb through to discourage more tangling than necessary. dont be alarmed by the hair that comes… Read more »
Crysterical
Taking down yarn braids is such a painful process if you have a lot of buildup at the base of the braid. The BEST advice I have received was to make a baking soda paste and use a toothbrush to gently brush around the base of the braids and scalp and then rinse your hair with water and a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse. Works like a charm, made braid removal THAT much easier and minimized the amount of breakage during take down. This is also just good to do every few weeks with the yarn braids to keep your… Read more »
Nitta M

I just came across this post and I think this will be helpful. I put in twist braids to help me transition (for the second time) and I do not want to lose any hair. Thanks for this post

Styled Naturally

I normally saturate my hair with a BUNCH of braid spray. I cut the hair that doesn’t contain my natural hair, and then I unravel it with my fingers. Great tips by the way. Next time I get braids I will try that conditioning tip for sure!

Quin

Any tips for cornrow removal??

Penelope

#2 is such a great tip. Thanks!!

Chikeebee

thanks for the article. very timely. i had twists done a couple of weeks ago and i’ve been wondering the best method to take them out with little breakage. my hair is very fine textured and prone to breakage.
i’ll definitely use a conditioner when it’s time to take the twiats out.

Rose Red

I am wearing genie locs aka yarn braids!

I keep them in about 2 months redoing the front and the edges and the back.

I spray daily with a mix of water and Hello Hydration conditioner.

I no-poo wash every 7-10 days or more if I’ve been in a smoky room.

I use a cotton ball soaked with witch hazel to clean my scalp and prevent the itchies.

I apply olive or coconut oil to my scalp twice a week or so.

Jo Somebody

That’s nice, but how do you take them out efficiently?

Rose Red

Oh and first I apply Suave Coconut conditioner to my entire head slathering it on each braid should be sopping and soaked with conditioner then I cut off yarn near where my natural hair starts- erring on the side of caution then takedown is easy just unravel and finger-comb.

Eboni
Interesting, I never thought about conditioning my hair before take-down (#2). Gonna try that next time 😀 Before I braid, I shampoo & deep-condition my hair. Additionally I use a cream/styler to create twists, then I braid extentions into each twist, so that helps to keep my hair moisturized for the duration of the protective style. Plus it makes the take-down process much smoother, & I notice less shed hair on the sink/floor since doing my protective styles this way. I definitely use my fingers to take down each braid; never been a fan using a comb in fear of… Read more »
Rachel

Thanks! I just put my hair in braids (which I will keep for 2 months) and I never thought about conditionning before the take down!

Mrs. Rew

My daughters hair has been up in braids for almost 3 months with the exception of the front I have been taking them down and redoing them. I find that taking a saftey pin works on the buildup that has accumulated no hair loss barely at all.

Tashaye

When I take down my braids, before I use a comb, a put conditioner through my hair. I gently go through and shingle conditioner in my hair. This keeps it from matting up when I co-wash my hair. This has proven to work for me in such a great way. As I condition, I seperate the hair and detangle with my fingers. I have less breakage and shedding when I do it this way. I hope this helps someone else.

Landry

This is a timely post! I plan on getting kinky twists installed this weekend. I plan on having them in no more than 8 weeks. I also plan to mist my hair and scalp with water, tea tree oil, and greepseed oil daily, and wash weekly.

Curly Queen

I follow a similar routine and my braid take down is so much more painless that it used to be and i barely loose any hair.

Sue

Same plan over here. I typically keep them in for 2 months max.

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