Protective styling — styling your hair in such a way that ends are tucked and protected — is an effective way to retain length in a relatively short amount of time. But moderation is the key to most things in life, and protective styling is no different! Here are 5 reasons it’s not a good idea to protective style non-stop.

1. You can better assess how products work on loose hair
Loose strands are the best template for testing how products work. You get a better sense of whether a product is absorbing or sealing properly, whether it smooths your strands, and how it’s affecting the texture of your hair. Take advantage of time in between protective styling to test new products and revisit old faithfuls to ensure they’re still performing well.

2. You can moisturize more effectively on loose hair
Styles like twists and box braids are easy to moisturize. But other protective styles, like updos and buns, keep so much hair hidden and tucked that it can be difficult to get a full saturation. It’s key to take advantage of time in between protective styling to do good deep conditioning and (if necessary) protein treatments.

3. Lint and shed hair buildup can lead to matting and breakage
Lint is an inevitability for women with textured hair. If it’s left on the hair for too long — and combines with spritzes, oils, and butters — it forms tiny lint balls that adhere to your strands, almost like glue. These are very hard to take down without causing serious breakage. You need breaks from protective styling so that lint doesn’t have a chance to accumulate.

4. It’s important to know how to maintain length with low manipulation styles
Unless you want to be in twists and cornrows for the rest of your life, you’re going to have to learn how to do low manipulation ‘out styles’. If you’re nervous at the thought of keeping your hair out, start small. Take your protective style down on Friday, allow yourself time to experiment on the weekend, and put the style back up in on Sunday night. Once you’re comfortable, gradually do the take down earlier and earlier in the week until you can go a full week rocking low manipulation styles that keep your ends in tact.

5. Constant protective styling can be emotionally draining
There is little point to being natural if you never ever get a chance to enjoy your big, bodacious, textured hair. Even if you’re working towards a hair goal, it’s psychologically important for you to spend time celebrating your hair as it is and have some fun!

What do you think ladies? Is taking protective styling breaks important to you? Why or why not?

Black Girl With Long Hair

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

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87 Comments on "5 Reasons It’s a BAD Idea to Protective Style Non-Stop"

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I normally do protective styling every other 6 to 8 weeks. So my hair gets a break, but when I was in the navy it was easier to keep my hair in cornrows through deployment which was 6-9 months.


@Tabatha, you make a good point. I wore cornrows done with my own hair all through elementary school, also about 6-9 months. Hair would be out during the holidays. I think continuous protective styling can be a major hindrance to someone who is not well acquainted with their natural hair. It can become a crutch, so to speak.

I’m surprised though that this article has not mentioned: Traction alopecia. Wearing weaves and cornrows + braids (esp. with extensions) puts tension on the hair! It’s important to take breaks to avoid breakage.

You know, it seems that there’s alot conflicting information in regards to productive styling. First, I hear protective style, now too much productive styles can break your hair. You know…its not productive styles as it is too much handling of the hair or over manipulation. My problem seems to be what can I do with my hair without having to overly handle it from day to day. I’m not really into braids and twist that involve extensions because I don’t trust anyone to put them in my hair. Most stylers braid too tight and I’m afraid to look like some… Read more »

I usually rock a protective style for a week (two strand twists usually) and then wear it out the next week. Pineappling doesn’t work that well for me. At least not in keeping the curls looking fresh. What I do is wrap my hair with bobby pins around my hair (basically like I did when my hair was relaxed) and put on my satin scarf and bonnet. The next morning, I take it down and my curls are still perfect.


I have been in back to back protective styles (all sew in weaves) through my transition natural hair. I do worry that I’m inept at styling and caring for my hair while it’s out. Also, my hair is prone to breakage and protective weaves have helped me to achieve bsl in just over a year.

I intend to come out of my weave this summer so that I can fully experience my natural hair, but I am more than a little concerned about uncontrollable breakage.


I agree with #5


I’ve experienced some major damage because I rarely have my hair out. I’m taking a break for now,enjoy my hair a bit and stop being lazy with my hair.