What Protective Hairstyle Damage Your Hair

Taking care of your hair is anything but easy. There are a lot of instructions to follow and you need to do some thorough research. A lot of people tout braids as life hacks for hair. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, some braids can actually do more harm than good for your hair.

What protective hairstyles damage your hair? There are 7 you need to avoid: tight braids, tension-based ones, wet hair updos, blowouts, sew-ins, extensions, and frequent ponytails. Braids may offer various benefits but you need to take good care of them in order to enjoy those benefits.

How do you take care of your braids? Are braids good for all types of hair? What even are the benefits of braids? The answers to all those questions and more lie in this article. Read on to find a complete guide to effectively using protective styles to improve your hair’s health.

Are Braids Bad For Your Hair

Are Braids Bad For Your Hair

Hair care can’t be summed up into blunt statements. There are plenty of factors to consider to determine whether something is good or bad for your hair. There are 4 factors to determine if braids damage your hair.

1. Your Hair Type

Fine or straight hair is not fitting for braids. These types are prone to breakage as the strands are far more fragile. They are not fit for manipulation.

Curly or coily hair is perfect for braids. That is why braids have become such a strong staple in African culture. This hair type is extremely common among African people and so, braids became a defining fashion trend for this community.

2. Your Local Weather

Braids are great for winter. Your hair loses a lot of moisture during this time of the year through the dryness in the air. Braids help you retain some of this moisture.

During the summer, however, they may not be the best option as you may feel hot with your hair braided away. You need to select the right type of hairstyle for it.

Also, if you live in a damp, rainy area, don’t go for braids. You need to prevent braids from getting wet and this can be extremely difficult if you have to step out in the rain very often.

3. Technique

Improper installation and removal are the roots of most problems related to braids. People don’t know the right technique to place braids and that causes some serious damage. Sometimes, they try to rush it and that causes even more issues. If you aren’t confident with your abilities, going to a professional stylist is a good idea.

4. Haircare Routine

Every style needs care and braids are no different. People have this common misconception that braids take care of themselves. Although braids are low maintenance, you still need to take care of them. If you miss out on the basic needs of this style, your hair is doomed.

7 Protective Styles That Are Harming Your Harm

If you feel as though braids are the right style for you, you are not alone. Millions of people have opted for protective styles for their hair. However, you need to avoid these 7 styles to protect your hair strands.

1. Tight Braids

Tight Braids

Tightly pulled-back braids cause plenty of damage to your hair’s roots. Breakage and a thinning hairline are very common reactions to the pressure on your roots. In extreme cases, you may even develop traction alopecia which is a form of female baldness.

2. Tension-Based Protective Styles

Tension-Based Protective Styles

Microbraided styles and other complicated braids require a lot of tension to put them in place. These are sure to cause scalp damage. The tension on the roots causes hair to be pulled out of follicles. Thinning and traction alopecia are serious risks of this style.

3. Updo With Wet Hair

Always let your hair completely dry before styling. Wet hair is fragile and it can break when you apply any tension to it. This can result in thinning and hair loss.

4. Blowouts


Heat in any form is bad for hair. Considering the fact that you need to use a flat iron or blow dryer to give your hair that blowout look, you’ll be exposing it to a lot of heat. This strips your hair of its natural oils and leaves it completely dry.

5. Extensions


A lot of braids require long hair. If you don’t have it, you may opt for extensions. One of the main problems with extensions is that they are heavy, they pull down hair and that leads to breakage.

Knots may form if extensions are not maintained properly.

In extreme cases, the structure of the hair may be damaged, leading to hair breakdown. Sometimes, the rough texture damages hair strands through friction and ruins hair quality as well. You also need to follow a strict process for installing, wearing, and removing extensions to keep your natural hair safe.

6. Sew-ins


Sew-ins are a unique alternative to wigs and extensions. Additional hair is literally sewn into your hair. It is an extremely lengthy process so get ready to wait if you decide to go for it anyway.

You should note that the weight of the weave causes a lot of pressure on your scalp and damages it. Also, the thread directly runs through your scalp and that may damage the follicles through tension.

7. Ponytails

This may shock you because this is generally considered a regular style that is not detrimental at all. The issue is frequency. It is so easy that people do it all the time. This causes stress and hair breakage because you are constantly manipulating your hair. Hair needs to be let down every once in a while.

How To Minimize Damage From Braids

How To Minimize Damage From Braids

Suppose you absolutely must wear braids, the benefits are way too good to miss out on, you just like the look too much or you want to hop in on a fashion trend. Either way, you need to wear them the right way. These 3 pieces of advice will allow you to do that.

1. Easy, Low-Tension Styles Are The Way To Go

It is important to go for styles that are easy on the hair. The minimal pressure is really good for your hair’s overall well-being. When it comes to styles, we also say the simpler, the better. You need to reduce tension however you can. The best way is to make the start of the braid super loose. Reduction of tension directly reduces hair damage.

2. Use Good Products On A Regular Basis

Craft a good haircare routine to cater to your braids. This involves using a deep-cleaning shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, and nourishing oil every 2-3 weeks. You can’t just pick any products off the shelf either. They have to be free of dangerous chemicals such as parabens and sulfates. As for oils, your best bets are natural ones such as essential oils.

You also need to remember to moisturize your scalp when you’re not washing it. Do it with a mixture of leave-in condition, glycerine, and water 2-3 times a week.

3. Don’t Wear Braids For Too Long

Under no circumstances are you to wear braids for more than 8 weeks at a time. If you don’t remove it by this time, you’ll face intense dryness and brittleness. As a result, you’ll experience excessive breakage during the removal.

On top of that, product build-up clogs your hair follicles as you can’t shampoo your hair as often. This dries out and weakens hair as nutrients can’t travel through each strand.

Even if you remove your braids before the 8-week mark, you need to take breaks between braids. Let your hair breathe. Your hair needs to stay in its natural form for as long as possible.

Why Braids Are Actually Good For You

Why Braids Are Actually Good For You

As you can see, you need to jump through hoops to keep braids. Why are people still so strongly incentivized to keep them anyway? These 5 benefits make a strong case for that.

1. Locks Everything In

The best part about braids is that it creates a seal for your hair that locks in all the nutrients and moisture. This means that even when it is freezing cold outside, your hair won’t get dry because the moisture is locked in place.

The nutrition being locked in is also a good thing as it promotes hair growth and makes your hair thicker and stronger. Braids improve the volume of your hair if worn right.

2. Protection From The Elements

Remember how we said that it creates a seal? This seal not only keeps things in but it also keeps things out. It creates an impenetrable dome for your scalp and keeps it safe from harmful foreign elements. This includes dust, debris, and pollutants. If you live in a particularly polluted area, this style is a game changer for your hair quality.

3. Minimizes Manipulation

Unlike most other hairstyles, braids stay in place throughout their lifetime. This means that you don’t need to style them every time you step out of the house. Other than saving you plenty of time, it also minimizes your hair’s exposure to harmful styling products.  

4. Low Maintenance

You may be shocked by this benefit considering how many instructions we just provided earlier in the article. The truth is once braids are in place, there is little left to do. You need to apply the aforementioned mixture every 2-3 days and wash your hair thoroughly every 2-3 weeks. This is a lot less work than other styles.

5. Super Stylish

Last but not least, braids look amazing. They are a bold fashion choice and they almost always look good. You even have the opportunity to express your individuality because there are so many options to choose from. This timeless hairstyle is a surefire way to impress some fashionistas.


Do box braids break your hair?

Box braids can potentially break your hair if they are installed too tightly or if you don’t take proper care of your hair while wearing them.

Do twists damage your hair?

Twists, when done gently and with proper care, should not cause significant damage to your hair.

What are the best braids for hair growth?

Some of the best braids for hair growth include low-tension box braids, loose cornrows, and jumbo twists, as they minimize the risk of breakage.

Does crochet braids break your hair?

Crochet braids can cause hair breakage if they are installed too tightly or if you don’t take care of your natural hair underneath.

Can I keep my braids in for 3 months?

It is generally not recommended to keep braids in for more than 2-3 months, as it can lead to tangling, matting, and breakage of your natural hair.

Do Marley twists damage hair?

Marley twists, when installed properly and with care, should not cause extensive damage to your hair.

Does braiding wet hair damage it?

Braiding wet hair can potentially cause damage, as wet hair is more prone to breakage. It’s best to let your hair dry before braiding.

Which braids are better for your hair?

Loose, low-tension braids are generally better for your hair health compared to tight and high-tension styles, as they minimize the risk of breakage.

Do all braids damage your hair?

While some braids can cause damage, not all braids are equally damaging. Choosing looser styles and taking proper care can help minimize the risk.

Are braids bad for hair growth?

Braids, when done correctly and with care, can actually be a protective style that promotes hair growth by reducing manipulation and breakage.

Is it healthy to keep hair in braids?

It can be healthy to keep your hair in braids, as long as they are installed properly, not too tight, and you take care of your natural hair and scalp.

Are box braids unhealthy?

Box braids themselves are not unhealthy. However, improper installation, excessive tension, and neglecting hair care while wearing them can lead to damage.

Do protective styles cause breakage?

Protective styles, when done correctly and with care, should not cause breakage. It’s important to ensure the style is not too tight and to moisturize and maintain your natural hair.

Can box braids break your hair off?

Box braids can potentially break your hair off if they are installed too tightly or if you don’t take proper care of your hair while wearing them.

How often should you give your hair a break from protective styles?

It’s recommended to give your hair a break from protective styles every 2-3 months to allow your hair and scalp to breathe and prevent excessive tension and breakage.

Final Words 

With that, you should now know what protective hairstyles damage your hair. These styles may look great but they can do some long-term damage to your hair. It’s up to you: do you want to look good for a few days and suffer in the long run?

That said, it’s not like you can never do the 7 styles we mentioned. In fact, most of them are purely a result of an error in technique. If you are able to correct these mistakes, then you can do these styles every once in a while.

As with any hairstyling technique, it is important to exercise caution. You don’t wear these styles every few weeks. Reserve them for the most special occasions. You can rest assured you’ll leave all passers-by dazzled.

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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