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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Stephanie

Is any­one gonna answer her ques­tion instead of prais­ing her work? (Good Info though)

Lilla

Hi, always i used to check blog posts here ear­ly in the morn­ing, as i like to gain knowl­edge of more and more.

Todd

Hi to every one, the con­tents present at this site are gen­uine­ly awe­some for peo­ple expe­ri­ence, well, keep up the nice work fel­lows.

Shelly

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Emmanuel

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Porter

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Dusty

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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 and… Read more »
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[…] For more tips on how to take down exten­sions with­out dam­age click here. […]

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 out. it is sim­ply… 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 :D 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 tak­ing… 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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