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We’ve all heard how great protective styles can be for our hair – they protect your hair, they help you retain length and moisture and they can give you a much needed break from your hair. Plus there are so many cute styles you can do, from box braids to two strand twists to buns. But the same styles that help your hair flourish and grow can have some unintended consequences for your hair. There are certain mistakes that people make when protective styling that can actually lead to breakage, excessive shedding, dryness and hair loss.


So to define it, a protective style is a hair style that protects your hair from the elements, physical damage and general wear and tear. The aim of these styles is to help your hair retain moisture and, therefore, retain length and potentially even gain thickness. We ALL love the convenience of getting braids or having your hair neatly woven into cornrows under your wig, knowing you won’t have to comb and detangle for the next couple of weeks but where do we cross the line into ‘destructive style’ territory? As the name suggests, a destructive style is a style that causes damage to the hair, usually in the form of breakage, excessive shedding, hair loss and even heat damage.

photo source: Instagram – Anitabrows

Here are a few tips to help you avoid a destructive style:

  • Don’t keep your protective styles in for too long – I know we all love the extra time we save in the mornings from having our hair braided up but keeping your protective style in for too long is a recipe for disaster, particularly if your hair style involves synthetic hair. The hair tends to get extremely dry and the prolonged tension on the strands can cause severe breakage – this is worsened when your hair is woven with synthetic hair because it tends to absorb a lot of the moisture in your hair as well as weighing the hair down. Of course, you know your hair best, but when it comes to box braids, I suggest a maximum of 4-6 weeks to maintain optimum hair health.
  • Don’t make your styles too tight – yes, your braids may last longer and look neater when you braid tightly or your wig may lay more nicely but it can wreak havoc on your hair, ESPECIALLY your edges. Traction alopecia (the loss of hair due to tension on the scalp) is real and VERY common – and in some cases, it can be permanent. So loosen up!
  • Remember to moisturise your hair – your protective style is not an excuse to completely forget about and neglect your hair. You still need to moisturise your hair and keep your scalp clean even with that protective style. All it takes is a spray bottle with water, your favourite leave in conditioner and a few drops of oil – spray it on a few times a week and off you go! Don’t forget to protect while you sleep – as I said in the last point, a protective style doesn’t mean you should forget all about your healthy hair care practices. You should still sleep with a satin pillowcase, scarf or bonnet regardless of the style your hair is in. This will keep your hair neat and prevent dryness.
  • Size matters – okay so this one is always up for debate but the size of your twists/braids/cornrows do matter. If you make the braids too big and the extensions are heavy, it can literally rip out strands of your hair. If your twists or braids are too small, it can cause problems for your edges. This is particularly a problem for the wig/weave-wearing ladies – try not to make those cornrows too small. It really puts a lot of pressure on your edges!


There we have it guys! Just a few tips to make sure that protective style doesn’t ruin all your progress.


Happy styling!

Tara is a hair and skincare blogger living and working in Lagos. She works a 9-5 job whilst building the business she is passionate about, Nature's Locks (a hair and skincare line of products and tools), which started out as a blog, You can find her:

Harmattan. A season (typically from the end of November to the middle of March)characterised by dryness and lots of dust. Anyone who lives in West Africa can attest to the fact your skin and hair tends to feel a little bit like tumbleweed during this time of the year. For me personally, my hair gets SO dry and this is when I tend to get lots of breakage and split ends so I try to make sure to take extra care of my hair during this period. But all is not lost! You can still keep your hair healthy and nourished during this time – so with a few tips, you won’t end up hairless at the end of harmattan!

1.) Moisturise And Seal More Often

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As I said before, the weather SUCKS the moisture out of your hair. So essentially, if you moisturise every other day, you should think about moisturising everyday. At this time of the year, I tend to use lightly thicker creams (e.g. Qhemet Biologics Amla & Olive Cream, Maui Moisture Curl Quench & Coconut Oil Curl Smoothie). When it comes to sealing, sometimes you can skip this step but, during harmattan, I don’t advise it at all. You really need something to lock that moisture into the strands. I use the Nature’s Locks Reparative Hair Growth & Sealing Oil to seal my hair- it contains extra virgin olive oil and Jamaican black castor oil to really lock the moisture into the strands. You can also use this on your scalp to stimulate growth and relieve itchiness since it contains peppermint essential oil and rosemary essential oil.

2.) Do Your Protein And Moisturising Deep Conditioners

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I’ve spoken about the importance of having a balance of protein and moisturising deep conditioners but, in this weather, you have tobe extra diligent about it! Protein treatments (e.g. Palmers Coconut Oil Deep Conditioning Protein Pack, Originals Hair Mayonnaise) bring the strength and moisturising treatments (e.g. Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque, Natural Nigerian Moisturising Deep Conditioning Treatment)bring the moisture of course! Just be sure to always use a moisturising treatment after a protein one to keep your hair hydrated.

3.) Protective  Styles

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Harmattan is the perfect time to do that cute protective style you’ve been wanting to do. Protective styling (when done properly! Check out my post on protective vs destructive styles) can help with moisture and length retention. So do those cute braids or wig or weave you’ve had saved on your phone for the last 3 months – just remember to keep your hair moisturised and well taken care of.

4.) Drink More Water

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We all know that what happens on the inside shows on the outside. So this is a great time to up your water intake – not just for your hair but even for your general health. You’re more likely to get more dehydrated during this time of the year and, if your body is dehydrated, just imagine how your hair is going to feel! Helpful tip: get a huge water bottle and set yourself the target of finishing it by the end of the day.

5.) Get A Trim (If Needed)

If you haven’t had a trim in a while, this is a very good time to get one. Your hair is likely to experience some dryness and breakage around this season. You don’t want to add to that by making split ends worse! So find a hairdresser you trust and get those ends snipped off.

That’s it guys! Obviously there are so many other tips and so many other ways to keep your hair healthy during this time but these are my top five! Hope they help!


Tara is a hair and skincare blogger living and working in Lagos. She works a 9-5 job whilst building the business she is passionate about, Nature's Locks (a hair and skincare line of products and tools), which started out as a blog, You can find her: