Essential Products for Maintaining and Enhancing Protective Styles

Protective hairstyles are highly popular for their convenience and diversity. With proper maintenance, they can last for a long time. Knowing what products to use can help you keep your styles fresh and sleek!

You can find many essential products for maintaining and enhancing protective styles to make your hairdo long-lasting. Moisturizing shampoo, heat protectant, leave-in conditioner – the list of products for your style is endless! All of these products ensure healthy strands and scalp by keeping your hair nourished. 

To keep your protective style secure and enhance the look, you need to know the necessary treatments, natural oils, washing frequency, and more!

Why Do People Wear Protective Hairstyles?

Nowadays, a lot of people are opting for protective styling. There can be several reasons behind it, such as.

Hair Growth and Length Retention

Protective hairstyles reduce the amount of manipulation, friction, and environmental exposure that can harm and break hair. This promotes healthy hair growth and preserves length.

Low Maintenance

Protective styles often require less daily maintenance compared to wearing the hair in its natural state. This can be useful for people with hectic schedules.


Protective styles give people a variety of ways to express their unique style. There are many different styles to pick from, including wigs and weaves as well as braids, twists, and cornrows.


Natural hair is prone to harm from external elements like pollution, UV radiation, and inclement weather. Protective styles provide a barrier between the hair and these factors, reducing the risk of damage.

Common Challenges of Wearing Braids and How to Solve Them

Everyone’s hair and scalp are unique, so it’s important to find what works best for you. However, here are some commonly faced challenges that happen when wearing braids and ways of addressing them –

Tension and Scalp Discomfort

Too-tight braids can put a strain on the scalp and make it feel uncomfortable. This may result in tension headaches, aching scalps, and even traction alopecia.


Loosen the braids up, or consider removing them. You can also choose lighter protective styles like halo braids, twists, or buns.


If you wear the braids for too long, they might become rough and frizzy. The frizz ruins your sleek braids and tangles the hair.


Use a moisturizing leave-in conditioner, braid spray, or anti-frizz serum to keep the hair hydrated. You can also use a satin or silk scarf and pillowcase to prevent friction and minimize frizziness while you sleep.


If you don’t clean and maintain the braids properly, you may experience itchiness on your scalp. Itching your braids too much can also ruin the appearance.


Use a gentle shampoo or a sulfate-free cleanser and dry your hair properly. Avoid scratching your scalp, as it can lead to irritation and potentially damage the braids.

Apply a soothing scalp oil or natural remedies such as tea tree oil, or aloe vera gel to calm itchiness and provide relief.

Hair Breakage

Hair breakage can result from improper braiding, installation, or removal. Excessive pulling or straining can weaken the hair strands and damage them.


To minimize hair breakage, it’s crucial to handle your braids gently. Avoid pulling or styling your braids too tightly, and be cautious when removing them to prevent unnecessary damage.

Maintaining proper hair care practices, such as conditioning and moisturizing, can also assist in preserving the health and reduce breakage of your natural hair.

Can Weather and Seasonal Change Affect Protective Styles?

The lack of moisture in cold weather can affect both the natural hair and the hair extensions used in protective styles. Dryness can lead to brittle and fragile hair, making it more prone to breakage.

Seasonal changes, especially in the colder months, can occasionally cause scalp dryness, irritation, and itching. Besides, excessive sweating during summer can also affect the health of your scalp.

How to Prepare, Maintain, and Take Out Protective Hairstyles?

To ensure a beautiful and sleek protective hairstyle, you must follow a comprehensive guide for keeping the hair healthy.

Preparing the Hair 

  • Before installing a protective style with extensions, starting with clean hair and scalp is crucial. This helps remove any dirt, product buildup, or excess oils that can affect the health of the style.
  • Deep conditioning is essential to provide moisture and nourishment to your hair before installing extensions. It improves the overall health and elasticity of the hair.
  • Using a lightweight leave-in conditioner adds moisture and provides a layer of protection to your natural hair and extensions. 

It helps keep the hair hydrated, soft, and manageable throughout the protective style.

Caring for Your Protective Style

  • Even with a protective style, keeping your scalp clean and refreshed is important to prevent product buildup, odor, and potential scalp issues.
  • Although your hair is tucked away in a protective style, it’s crucial to maintain moisture to prevent dryness and breakage.
  • The edges, also known as the hairline, can be more fragile and prone to breakage. It’s important to handle them with care to avoid excessive tension or damage.
  • Protecting your protective style while you sleep is crucial to maintain its neatness and prevent damage.

Taking Out the Protective Style

  • Protective styles have a recommended duration for wearing. It’s important to adhere to this timeframe to prevent excessive tension, breakage, or matting of your natural hair.
  • Taking out your protective style requires a gentle and patient approach to avoid excessive hair breakage or unnecessary pulling.
  • After removing the protective style, providing deep nourishment and moisture to your natural hair is crucial.
  • Once you’ve removed your protective style, continue to protect your hair while you sleep to prevent breakage and tangling.
  • While some individuals find scalp greasing beneficial, it’s important to understand that excessive use of heavy greases or oils can lead to product buildup and potential scalp issues.

How Do Freshly Done Protective Hairstyles Look?

Freshly done protective styles can have a sleek and polished appearance. The braids, twists, or other protective elements are well-defined and styled. 

Braiding parts or sections of the style are usually clean and symmetrical, providing an organized look. 

A well-executed protective style feels comfortable to wear and provides a sense of security. If you take proper care of your protective hairstyle, it can look fresh and neat for a long time!

How to Take Care of Your Hair and Scalp with Protective Styles?

Proper care and maintenance are essential to keep your hair and scalp healthy while wearing protective styles. Follow these steps to keep both hair and scalp nourished –

Keep the Scalp Clean

To avoid product buildup, itching, and other scalp problems, keeping your scalp clean is essential. You can wash your scalp and braids every 1-2 weeks or more frequently, depending on your style and preference.

Moisturize Regularly

It’s essential to moisturize the hair and scalp to avoid dryness, breakage, and brittleness. Dry hair is more prone to harm, particularly when worn in protective styles.

To hydrate the hair and scalp, use a leave-in conditioner with a water base or a moisturizing spray.

Minimize Manipulation and Friction

Avoid over-manipulating the braids because this can cause frizz, breakage, and early loosening of the style.

Importance of Hydration for Protective Hairstyles

Hydration plays a crucial role in maintaining and perfecting protective styles. Proper hydration helps strengthen your hair and reduces the risk of breakage.

Washing Frequency

Frequent washing can strip your hair of natural oils, essential for keeping your hair and scalp moisturized. This can lead to dryness, brittleness, and increased breakage.

Using a No-rinse Cleanser

With a no-rinse cleanser, you can refresh your scalp without the hassle of a full wash-day routine. They’re often lightweight and non-drying, cleansing the scalp without stripping away essential moisture.

Here’s how you can use a no-rinse cleanser effectively –

  • Read and follow the instructions from the specific no-rinse cleanser you’re using. 
  • Focus the application of the no-rinse cleanser directly on your scalp.
  • If you have a protective style with braids, twists, or extensions, section your hair to access the scalp more effectively.
  • After applying the no-rinse cleanser, gently massage it into your scalp using circular motions. This helps to loosen any buildup and allows the product to thoroughly penetrate and cleanse the scalp.
  • Once you’ve applied the no-rinse cleanser and massaged it into your scalp, you can let your hair air dry or proceed with your preferred styling routine.

The Dos and Don’ts of Protective Styling

Protective hairstyles may be tricky to deal with as they differ from natural ones. It’s important to know the tips and tricks for maintaining these styles –


  • Regularly moisturize
  • Try an apple cider vinegar rinse 
  • Keep them in long enough 
  • Use the LOC/LCO Method 
  • Get a pre-treatment 
  • Most importantly, enjoy your protective style!


  • Remember about your edges 
  • Never allow product to build up 
  • No sleeping without protecting your hair 
  • Avoid taking down your style while it’s wet 
  • Wash your hair regularly

8 Steps for Using Natural Oils to Achieve Hair Goals in Protective Styling

Using natural oils can be beneficial for achieving hair goals while wearing protective styles. Here are eight specific ways to effectively utilize natural oils:

1. Scalp Massage

Massage your scalp gently with organic oils while clad in protective attire. This promotes a healthy scalp environment, increases blood circulation, and nourishes hair follicles.

Use your fingertips to massage the oil in circular motions.

2. Pre-poo Treatment

While your hair is in a protective style, pre-poo it with natural oils. This helps prevent the hair from drying out too much while being cleaned. 

Focus on any exposed areas of your hair as you apply the oil to the lengths and ends of your hair.

3. Oil Sealing

Use natural oils as a sealer to keep the moisture in your hair and scalp after hydrating them. You should lightly spread a tiny amount of oil over the braids or twists after applying it to the ends of your hair. 

This keeps your hair moisturized and prevents moisture loss.

4. Hot Oil Treatment

To deeply nourish and hydrate your hair, give it a hot oil treatment while it’s styled in protection. Apply your preferred natural oil to your hair and scalp after warming it up. 

Use a steamer or a warm towel to increase absorption while wearing a shower cap over your hair. Rinse well with water after the procedure.

5. Refreshing Spray

A refreshing spray is a fantastic way to maintain moisture between washes and improve your protective style. Add a few drops of your preferred light leave-in conditioner or hydrating oil to a spray bottle of water.

Spray the refreshing spray onto your hair and scalp, paying special attention to any areas that feel dry or could use an extra moisture boost.

6. Anti-itch Treatment

Mix a few drops of peppermint oil, tea tree oil, and aloe vera gel in a small bowl.

After thoroughly combining the ingredients, target any itchy or uncomfortable areas of your scalp with the treatment using a cotton pad or the tips of your fingers.

7. Breakage Prevention

Apply a lightweight oil, such as jojoba or argan oil, to your fingertips.

Carefully glide your oiled fingertips along the length of your braids, twists, or other protective elements to minimize friction and reduce the risk of breakage.

8. Post-protective Style Care

After taking off your protective style, it’s crucial to treat your hair with additional care. Use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to detangle your hair to start gently.

Follow up with a moisturizing deep conditioner to restore hydration and softness to your hair.

What Are the Suitable Types of Oil to Use on Protective Styles?

When choosing oils for use in hair while wearing protective styles, it’s generally recommended to opt for light, easily absorbed oils that won’t clog the scalp.

Here are some types of oil you can try to keep your protective style healthy –

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil closely resembles the natural oils produced by our scalp, making it an excellent choice for moisturizing and balancing the scalp and hair.

 It’s lightweight, non-greasy, and easily absorbed, providing hydration without leaving a heavy residue.

Argan Oil

Argan oil is incredibly nutritious for the hair and scalp since it’s full of important fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins.

 It’s a thin oil that enhances shine, lessens frizz, and increases the suppleness of hair. Since argan oil absorbs quickly, the hair is left silky and manageable.

Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil is a versatile oil that’s light in texture and gentle on the scalp. It contains vitamins and minerals that help nourish and strengthen the hair, promoting overall hair health. 

Sweet almond oil is easily absorbed and doesn’t weigh down the hair.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is a light and non-greasy oil that’s rich in antioxidants. It helps moisturize the hair and scalp without leaving a heavy residue. 

Grapeseed oil also contains linoleic acid, which promotes hair growth and improves the overall health of the hair.

Why is It Important to Pick an Easily Absorbed Oil for Protective Styles?

Easily absorbable and light-weight natural oils are great for strengthening and nourishing your hair in multiple ways, such as –

Absorption and Penetration

Light oils are better absorbed by the hair shaft, allowing them to penetrate and provide nourishment from within. This helps to strengthen the hair, improve elasticity, and reduce breakage.

Weight and Comfort

Heavy oils can weigh down the hair, making it look flat and greasy. Lighter oils, on the other hand, provide moisture and nourishment without weighing down the hair or causing it to appear oily.

Scalp Health

The scalp needs to breathe and maintain a balanced environment for optimal hair growth. Heavy oils that are not easily absorbed can clog the scalp’s pores, leading to issues such as scalp irritation, follicle blockage, or product buildup.

Style Preservation

Lighter oils are less likely to interfere with the longevity and neatness of your protective style. They’re absorbed more easily, reducing the risk of oil transferring onto clothes, bedding, or other surfaces.

How Can Thicker Oils Be Used in Hair Care?

Thicker oils like castor oil, Jamaican black castor oil, and Vitamin E oil can still be used effectively in hair care while protective styling –

  • Heavier oils like castor oil and Jamaican black castor oil are excellent for scalp massages.
  • They can help seal in moisture and protect the ends from dryness and potential breakage.
  • Thicker oils can be used for hot oil treatments, even while in a protective style.
  • If the thicker oils feel too heavy or sticky for your liking, you can dilute them with lighter oils.
  • Oils like these are great for moisturizing and nourishing.

How to Dilute Thicker Oils Using Lighter Ones?

To dilute thicker oils such as castor oil, Jamaican black castor oil, or Vitamin E oil with lighter oils, you can follow these steps:

  • Select a lightweight oil you would like to use as the diluting agent. Some popular options include jojoba oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, or argan oil.
  • Take a small container, such as a clean bottle or jar, and pour a small amount of the thicker oil into it.
  • Add a few drops or teaspoons of the lighter oil into the container with the thicker oil.
  • Close the container tightly and shake it well to mix the oils thoroughly.
  • Perform a patch test on a small section of your skin or hair to check if the diluted mixture feels comfortable and lightweight.
  • Store the diluted oil mixture in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight.

Essential Products for Maintaining and Enhancing Protective Styles

Maintaining and enhancing protective styles is a crucial step of hair care. There’s a variety of products you can use –

1. Moisturizing Shampoo

Keeps your scalp and hair clean while maintaining moisture. Look for a gentle shampoo that won’t strip your hair of its natural oils.

2. Heat Protectant

If you plan to use heat styling tools, a heat protectant is crucial to minimize damage and protect your hair from the heat’s drying effects.

3. Dry Oil Spray

This can provide lightweight moisture and shine to your hair without weighing it down or leaving a greasy residue.

4. Restoring Hair Treatment Balm

This balm is specifically designed to restore and strengthen damaged or weak hair, promoting healthier growth and reducing breakage.

5. Hair Honey Calming Tension Spray

This spray helps calm and soothe the scalp, reducing tension and discomfort caused by protective styles.

6. Jojoba Oil & Ucuuba Butter Track Tension & Itch Relief Serum

Provides relief from scalp itchiness and tension while moisturizing and nourishing.

7. Shea Moisture Jojoba Oil & Ucuuba Butter No-Rinse Foam Cleanser

 This helps refresh and cleanse the scalp without the need for rinsing.

8. Anti-Breakage & Repair Antidote Oil

This oil helps strengthen the hair, reduce breakage, and improve overall hair health and resilience.

9. Anti-Break Strengthening Oil

Prevents and minimizes hair breakage, promoting healthier and stronger hair strands.

10. Multi-Use Curl Treatment

A multi-use curl treatment can provide moisture, define curls, and reduce frizz, enhancing the appearance and manageability of your natural curls.

11. Anti-Itch Growth Oil

Alleviates scalp itchiness and supports healthy hair growth, providing relief and nourishment.

12. Scalp Care Calming Scalp Lotion

This can soothe and nourish the scalp, maintaining scalp health and reducing dryness or irritation.

13. Leave-In Conditioner

Provides ongoing moisture and hydration to your hair, keeping it soft and manageable while in a protective style.

14. Hair Care Clarifying ACV Rinse

An apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse helps clarify the hair and remove any product buildup, promoting a healthy scalp and hair environment.

15. Hair Refresher Tonic

This can revitalize and refresh your protective style, helping to eliminate odors and provide a pleasant fragrance.

16. Multi-vitamin Scalp Nourishing Oil

This oil is enriched with vitamins and nutrients to nourish and strengthen the scalp, promoting healthy hair growth.

17. Peppermint Scalp Elixir

It can invigorate and stimulate the scalp, promoting circulation and relieving scalp discomfort.

18. Edge Control or Gel

Smoothens and tames the edges of your hair, keeping them in place and maintaining a polished look for your protective style.

Final Thoughts

Everyone’s hair is unique, so it’s helpful to experiment with different products and find the ones that work best for your hair type, texture, and desired results. 

Try out the recommended essential products for maintaining and enhancing protective styles and find out what works for you!

When using these products, it’s important to read and follow the instructions provided by the specific brands you choose.

By Cindy Mahlangu

Hey there! I'm Cindy Mahlangu, a pro hairstylist with a serious passion for natural hair care. My mission? To inspire and educate others on the beauty and benefits of protective hairstyles. Through my creative writing, aim to empower individuals to embrace their unique hair texture and confidently care for their locks. So, whether you're rocking locs, braids, or twists, join me on this hair journey and let's achieve healthy, fabulous tresses together!

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