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Preparing your hair for protective styling

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

When it comes to protective styling we often focus on the style itself instead of our hair underneath or what products/tools are used in the process.

Here we will focus on those areas and hopefully shed some clarity to the preparation of your hair before installing protective styles.

Step 1 - You would think step one is washing your hair right? Not today. I want you to start right at the beginning. The initial stage of deciding on the style you want is the most crucial part - From there everything else will fall into place.

Too often we fall guilty to picking a style we see on social media, beautifully edited, extremely long and full and we instantly decide we want it! However, how often do we stop and think Is this style protective of my natural hair? Honestly we rarely do but this is where most of the issues arise which is why I have made this 'Step One.'

There is a style suited for each and every one of us. We just have to find it. When deciding on the right 'protective' style for you it is important to ask yourself some of the following questions:

  1. Have I had any experience of breakage or thinning recently? Especially my edges/perimeter? If so, try avoiding styles that are long, too full or faux loc styles. Knotless braids, mid length may be a good start.

  2. How was my experience with the last protective style I had? Did I handle it? It's good to get an understanding of how your natural hair takes to protective styles in general. Some people have the healthiest of hair types but still find it difficult to manage small - medium boxed styles. This is perfectly normal, the goal is to find a style for you.

  3. Do I often get migraines, headaches or tension in neck / shoulders? A question most people do not consider until afterwards when they are left with paracetamol and a hot towel on their neck. Please consider whether the style you are getting is manageable for your current condition. Hip length braids is not necessarily non-protective but it can be depending on the state of your natural hair.

  4. Do I live a very active lifestyle? is this style convenient? Most people consider this question after having their hair done. If you are someone who goes to the gym a lot, swims often or goes to the spa. If you are someone who generally moves around or sweats a lot then styles that may be on the longer side may get in the way often. Could you imagine hip length braids in a swim cap? So, consider how you would go about your day with the style you have. For example, if you work some where that requires you to tie your hair away with a net. Could the style you chose be picked away conveniently?

Step 2 - Now that you have decided on the style you want we can now prepare out hair! Starting with a good wash day. The wash day after taking out your protective style will always be more intense as you are going to expect more dirt/product build up than usual so stronger hair products are advised especially with your shampoo stage.

However the wash day beforehand I wouldn't advise going all out here! A light shampoo with a deep conditioning treatment finishing with a moisturising conditioner is enough to prepare your hair then you can focus on a stronger wash day routine afterwards. - MAUI Product Range & KeraCare are some of our top favs.

At Silone's Range we don't advise washing your hair on the same day as installing. your protective style. Leaving your hair for 1-2 days allows the hair to naturally strengthen after being washed especially for people who do not have a water filter. This method works wonders if you are going for a rather longer , fuller style as your hair will be more prepared for it. Saying this everyones lifestyle is different so if you cannot leave your hair for a few days in between then it's okay just try where you can to optimise growth.

Step 3 - How you would prepare your hair on the day of your appointment will vary depending on your hair type. Overall, the goal is to section your hair (where possible) and avoid it from tangling. Whether you twist it or braid it in sections, cornrow it in some jumbo sections or just moisturise it and leave it in a bun. - Again the option you choose will depend on your hair type and length. In terms of products used, a lot of hairdressers would advise no to minimal product used. This is because too much product can change the end result of your style but also can cause implications for your natural hair. Think about it - You add curling custard and gel to your hair. Your hair is then braided away for 5 weeks with no exposure to your natural hair. The product underneath is just drying away locking in all the product to your natural hair. When it's time to take the hair out now your hair cane sticky, brittle or in some cases weakened and fragile due to the build up.

So, a light moisturiser is fine no gels, custards, curling products, setting mousses. Just a simple light leave-in conditioner or moisturiser. As I Am Leave-In Conditioner, Shea moisture - Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner, Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Foods (especially the banana range) are some of our favourites!

Step 4 - My favourite step! The installing stage. This is step most people think they have no involvement in as a client and it's all the hairdressers job. And although in an ideal world this would be the case. It is still important to keep an. eye out on some small tips to ensure you are getting the best service possible in ensuring your hair is maintained protectively. These things are:

  1. The hairdresser isn't using excessive amounts of gel on your hair especially your scalp. If gel is being applied it should be applied a inch away from your root and not directly on your scalp as this is the number one reason why people complain about redness, sores, itchiness and irritability. As when that gel dries on your scalp which is SKIN this is the side effects for most people.

  2. Elastic bands should be the last result or if you have disclosed that the style is only for 1-2 weeks. It has become a trend of recent for hairdressers to use elastic bands for all styles especially faux locs which can last up to 5+ weeks! This can cause various hair implications if installed incorrectly. So where possible, request no elastic bands if this is a service that a hairdresser provides as some hairdressers only use elastic bands as it's easier to install with a simpler technique.

  3. Blowdrying your hair on the same day as installing a protective style is not really something we advise at Silone's Range mainly because heat can stay on your hair for up to 2 days so if you braid your hair on the same day you could just be locking in all that heat which in the long run can actually cause heat damage or breakage. If it's styles like sleek buns etc that requires heat then that is different but styles where your hair is put away is what we are focusing on. - Saying this heat is a personal choice if you feel you haven't even been asked whether you want your blowdried before they prepare the tool then this is another thing to consider.

  4. How much Harris being used is such a crucial part of keeping your hair protected! Too often I see people with small heads or type 2-3 hair who has had 3-4 packs of hair installed with braids! Having too much hair installed can cause breakage, patches, and thinning of the hair due to too much weight added and/or too much manipulation. I don't think I've used more than 3 packs in over 4 years! So it is possible to keep hair to a minimum especially with braids. However, faux locs and distressed close do require more hair than usual so just keep an eye on the packs when getting your hair done.

  5. We already mentioned gel but hair products in general should be considered. Using strong products and/or setting, styling lotions on the natural hair can be considered as harsh products especially if your hair is being put away for weeks! Setting mousses at the end is different and can be used as long as it is not excessive amounts as this can result in the hair becoming curly again or make the roots lift after day 2/3. Setting mousse should not be used every day.

I hope this clarifies how to prepare your hair before installing a protective style. Keep an eye out on more posts. I will be doing one on 'How to take down your protective style' Which is most requested.

Thank you for reading! for more information or any questions please drop us an email

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