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.