5 haircare steps to take after protective styling

28 September, 2022 / words by IALH Editorial Team

Written by Daniela

Image by @loriharvey

That feeling of getting up and ready to go when rocking protective styles is *chef’s kiss* UNMATCHED! No longer needing 2-3 days’ notice before an outing (my natural girls I know you can relate!) and saving so much time while slaying. There’s no question as to why protective styles are so popular, not to mention all the variety. Then one to two months later, it’s time to take them down and face that daunting task, dealing with your hair again…yikes! Trust me, I know that feeling all too well. What if I told you this process doesn’t have to be as tedious? Here are 5 haircare steps to take after protective styling to ease the hassle and bring your hair back to life…

1) Go in with a detangler or pre-shampoo

The average person sheds 50-100 strands of hair a day. Now imagine how much shed hair gets trapped while protective styling. Trying to detangle dry, natural can cause your hair to snap and break making your protective season pointless. This is where detanglers & pre shampoos come in and although they’re many on the market, conditioner works just as good! Before going in with your detangling brush or comb, spritz the section with water and add conditioner. Work the product in and you’ll be able to get those knots and shed hairs out much easier. If you need that extra slip then pre-shampoo is for you. A good one will have those knots melting like butter and your hair detangled in no time. My favourite pre shampoo is the African Pride Detangle & Condition Pre-Shampoo, this slip in this is out of this world and well worth the hype.

African Pride

Detangle & condition pre-shampoo

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2) Clarify hair and scalp

While you can cleanse your scalp with a protective style installed, there will still be some amount of build-up in your hair and scalp. I know gentle cleansers are popular right now, but in this case a clarifying shampoo is needed to get in there and remove heavy dirt and product build-up. When I need an extra clean slate, I always turn to the Curlsmith Core Strength Shampoo. Use the beds of your fingers (never the nails) to massage and work the shampoo on your scalp. Go ahead to shampoo the lengths of your hair and rinse to prep your hair for the next step.


Core strength shampoo

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3) Deep condition with a moisture / protein conditioner

Now to my favourite step, restoring your hair to its former glory. When wearing a protective style for weeks or months, your hair drying out is inevitable. In this circumstance, please set your regular conditioners to the side because your hair will require you to pull out the big dogs – your most intensive, moisturizing and restorative deep conditioners and treatments. My favourites for this purpose are Curlsmith’s Hydro Crème Soothing Mask, Briogeo’s Protein + Moisture Strengthening Treatment & Deep Conditioning Mask from their Don’t Despair, Repair collection. The combination of protein for strength and moisture is crucial after a protective styling. To amplify your conditioning session, add heat by steaming and your hair will thank you!


Hydro crème soothing mask

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Rice water protein + moisture strengthening treatment

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Deep conditioning mask

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4) Get a trim

Your hair has been brought back to life but you notice your ends are a little straggly, with split ends here and single strand knots there- yup, it’s time for a trim. While this might not be the case after every protective style, it’s important to monitor your hair by just running your hands down your hair shaft to feel the state of your ends. If they feel different from the rest of your hair, book a quick visit to a professional stylist for a trim or if you trust yourself, you can do this at home after a few YouTube videos.

5) Take a break

Being on social media it feels like I’m constantly seeing protective styles that I want to try, can you relate? Even though the ideas come at us fast, it’s important to take breaks between these styles. Too much of one thing is never a good idea so balancing protective styles and allowing your scalp to breathe will create a healthy cycle.


IALH Editorial Team


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