What Protective Hairstyle Prevents Breakage

Breakage is one of the worst things that can happen to your hair. The loss of hair is going to reduce the volume of your hair and limit your styling options. Stylists have been trying to find a way to deal with this issue for years and we may have finally hit the jackpot. Protective styles may be the best way to reduce breakage.

What protective hairstyle prevents breakage? Knotless Box Braids, Loose Braids, Space Buns, Cornrows, Box braids, Twists, Braided buns, and Twisted ponytails all do an excellent job of reducing your breakage. Along with that, they are super stylish and promote hair growth as well.

Simply wearing a protective style isn’t enough to avoid breakage, however. You need to maintain it properly as well. This means installing it the right way, keeping it in good shape, and also removing it without doing any damage. Don’t worry, the instructions to do all that are included in this article.

Why You’re Facing Breakage

Why You’re Facing Breakage

The best start to finding the solution to a problem is to find out the root cause. You are facing breakage for one of the following 5 reasons.

1. Type Of Hair

African American hair is beautiful but it tends to be a bit fragile. Curl patterns and textures are a recipe for breakage. The tightly coiled nature makes it difficult for sebum, the natural oil produced by hair, to travel through the hair shaft. This leads to dryness and breakage.

2. Over-manipulation

If you try out many styles and frequently play around with your hair, the friction can do some damage. Touching of any sort is bad for the hair. Daily styling involves strenuous combing, detangling, stretching, and updos. All of this manipulation, especially when it is rough or excessive, can weaken the hair strands. Some styling products also directly harm hair.

3. Harsh Climate

Extreme weather conditions can do a number on your hair. The hair really doesn’t like the cold as it takes away a lot of moisture. If you experience dry air, cold air, frost, excessive wind, and snow, your hair is at great risk of breakage.

4. Excessive Sweating

Everyone loves a good workout. Unfortunately, sweating is a massive issue not just for hygiene but for the health of your hair as well. Intense activities such as swimming and hardcore exercising can offset the balance of moisture in your hair. This balance is important as too much moisture can weaken hair and cause it to go brittle, leading to breakage.

5. Improper Hairstyles 

Tight hairstyles are a no-no. The heavy amounts of tension will put a lot of stress on your follicles and that is going to lead to breakage. You have to look for a style that doesn’t weaken your hair. You need to find the style that is right for you.

How Protective Styles Can Help Your Hair

How Protective Styles Can Help Your Hair

Protective styles are a great option as they can shield your hair from breakage. It does this through 3 means.

1. Tucks Aways Ends

The ends of your hair are much more fragile than any other part of your hair. A protective style keeps them safely tucked away. This protects them from splitting or breaking apart.

2. Shielded From The Climate

As we mentioned earlier, the weather is a massive concern for your hair’s health. Protective style creates a dome around your hair that keeps all foreign elements out and ensures that the air quality doesn’t affect your hair too badly. It offers the best protection from the elements.

3. Prevents Dehydration

Dehydrated hair is extremely brittle and likely to face breakage. Protective styles are the perfect solution to this problem. They lock in moisture, meaning that your hair doesn’t excessively lose out on the hydration that it needs. It is important to note that your hair doesn’t magically create moisture. You need to add it before installing the style and replenish it when it seems to run low.

How To Choose The Right Hairstyle For Your Hair?

How To Choose The Right Hairstyle For Your Hair?

Before choosing a hairstyle, you need to think long and hard. Not every style will be right for you. These 4 factors should help you down this road.

1. Hair Type

Your hair type will be a key determinant for the protective style that you choose. For example, fine, straight hair is simply not fit for elaborate braids or twists. You need to go for simple styles such as plain braids or buns. On the flip side, curly or coily hair is tailor-made for protective styles.

2. Your Taste

Your fashion sense dictates what style you choose. It completely depends on how you want to look. There is no such thing as one-style-fits-all.

3. The Occasion

Some occasions call for sober and muted styles, while others call for extravagant and expressive ones. The perfect example of this would be a Funeral vs a Wedding.

4. Time Constraints

How long are you willing to wait for the style to be put in place?  How much time can you contribute to maintenance? You need to factor in time when choosing a style.

How To Prepare Your Hair For A Protective Style?

How To Prepare Your Hair For A Protective Style?

A lot of people skip this step. It is important to do it as your hair needs to get ready for the intense process of getting a protective style.

1. Deep Conditioning

The hair needs moisture to lock it in. There needs to be a cycle of moisture before, during, and after wearing your protective style. Deep conditioning is one of the best ways to introduce this moisture.

2. Protein Treatment

Protein is an important nutrient for hair. It makes it stronger and more resistant to breakage. Protective styles can expose the hair to a fair bit of tension so making the strands stronger beforehand isn’t a bad idea. Protein treatments can do that. It also boosts recovery and promotes hair growth.

3. Regular Oil Application

Another way to add moisture to your hair is by applying oil regularly. Opt for natural oils such as coconut oil or argon oil. They help keep your hair in the best condition possible.

Tips To Maintain Your Hair In A Protective Style

Tips To Maintain Your Hair In A Protective Style

Taking care of your hair is a long-term process and far from simple. These 4 tips will help you improve the quality of your hair.

1. Avoid Heat-Based Styling

You may be tempted to reach for a blow dryer, curling iron, or straightening every once in a while. Don’t do that. Your hair hates heat. It weakens the strands and leaves it more susceptible to breakage.

2. Maintain A Good Diet

Your hair needs nutrition and applying products to do it may help but it doesn’t entirely do the trick. Most of your nutrition comes from what you eat. You need to make sure that include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. These healthy food groups give your hair what it needs to grow stronger and hence, resist breakage.

3. Cover Your Hair When You Sleep

Believe it or not, sleeping can be a dangerous time for your hair. You toss and turn a lot when you are asleep. This leads to constant friction between your hair strands and the pillowcase. This friction causes serious damage to your hair cuticles and therefore, you may face breakage.

If the pillowcase is made of cotton, you also face the risk of losing moisture. This is because cotton has a tendency to soak up any moisture it is exposed to. Protective styles such as braids, twists, and buns help minimize the rubbing but we recommend wearing headgear like scarves and bonnets for good measure.

4. Be Careful With Wet Hair

Wet hair is extremely delicate. You need to be gentle and careful when handling it. If you are not careful with your hair when it is in this state, you are basically begging for breakage.

How To Remove A Protective Style

How To Remove A Protective Style

When you remove a protective style, you are bound to face a little bit of breakage as your hair has been packed into one shape for many days. The goal is to minimize this breakage through these 4 processes.

1. Regular Maintenance

You need to keep your hair well moisturized throughout the duration of your protective style. You can do this by washing it with a good shampoo and condition every 2-3 weeks and spraying a mixture of leave-in conditioner, glycerin, and water on your hair every 2-3 days.

Dry and damaged hair is more like to break when the style is taken off. Dampening your hair also minimizes tangles.

2. Don’t Wear It For Too Long

Under no circumstances should you wear a protective style for more than 8 weeks. We suggest taking it off around the 6-week mark just to be safe. You should also let your hair rest for a while before you put it in a protective style again. Your hair needs to breathe a bit.

3. Use A Good Technique

Proper technique is the key to minimizing breakage when removing a protective style. You need to avoid putting in excessive tension as it stresses out your hair follicles and causes it to break. You need to go slow, be gentle and avoid overmanipulating quickly. Your patience will be rewarded.

The best approach is to start at the end and work your way up. This offers more control. Also, make sure you don’t make parts that are too small. Bigger parts disperse the tension and so each strand is less likely to split or break.

4. Use Detangling Spray Or Oil

You are bound to find a few tangles when you take off your protective style. If these are excessive, you need to take measures to detangle your hair as simply using a comb and forcing them out will lead to breakage.

A detangling spray or oil will add moisture to your hair so the tangles slip off more easily. Leave-in conditioner or watered-down regular conditioner can also do the trick if you are in a jiffy.

8 Best Protective Hairstyles That Help Prevent Breakage

Now that you know everything there is to know about protective styles and preventing breakage, let’s look at the 8 styles you can choose from.

1. Knotless Box Braids

Knotless Box Braids

Knotless braids are a type of protective hairstyle that is less likely to cause breakage than traditional braids. This is because the braids are not attached to the scalp with knots, which can put a lot of tension on the hair.

Instead, the braids are “fed” into the hair, which creates less tension and stress. As a result, knotless braids are a good option for people who are looking for a protective hairstyle that is less likely to cause breakage.

These are an upgrade to natural braids. These cause less strain on natural hair as extensions are added. Knots on natural hair are reduced, hence the name. It is healthy for your hair and relatively low maintenance.

2. Loose Braids

Loose Braids

The goal is to always minimize tension. Tight braids are really bad for your hair. Loose braids offer the best of both worlds: they don’t exert excessive pressure on the roots and the rope-like shape strengthens your hair.

When done correctly and with proper care, are less likely to cause breakage compared to tight braids. However, it’s important to note that even with loose braids, improper installation, excessive pulling, or leaving them in for extended periods can still lead to breakage.

3. Space Buns

Space Buns

Space buns, a popular hairstyle where hair is divided and twisted into two buns on the sides of the head.
This is a fairly simple style with a lot of variations. You wear two buns at the top of your head and you can switch it up as you like. The look gets its name from Princess Leia’s look in Star Wars.

It is important to be gentle when creating space buns, avoid using tight hair ties, and give the hair regular breaks to prevent damage.

4. Cornrows


These are braids that are braided very close to the scalp. It has a strong history of over 25,000 years. It was created to promote hair growth and open up the scalp for better cooling. This can be considered the perfect summer look.

Cornrows can potentially help prevent breakage in hair by minimizing manipulation and reducing exposure to environmental factors. By braiding the hair close to the scalp and securing it in a protective style, cornrows can help reduce friction, tangling, and damage caused by daily styling routines.

5. Box braids

Box braids

This is definitely one of the most versatile protective styles out there. The only requirement is a boxed-off sectioning technique. It allows you to express your style however you like.

Box braids can help prevent breakage by keeping your hair protected from the elements and from being manipulated. When your hair is in braids, it is less likely to be brushed, combed, or styled, all of which can cause breakage. Additionally, the braids help to distribute the weight of your hair evenly, which can also help to prevent breakage.

6. Twists


Twists are a fun hairstyle that offers a unique look. They are also very customizable. This style is popular among the Afro community as it is perfect for that type of hair.

Twists can help reduce hair breakage by minimizing friction and manipulation. The twisting technique creates a protective style that keeps the hair strands tucked away, reducing exposure to environmental factors and reducing tension on the hair.

Twists can also promote moisture retention, preventing dryness and brittleness, which are common causes of breakage.

7. Braided Bun

Braided Bun

Also called a Dutch braided bun, this look is definitely a feast for the eyes. Elegant style that requires quite a bit of effort and time but it is totally worth it. Anyone can wear this style without the risk of cultural appropriation.

Braided bun can help prevent hair breakage. By gathering the hair into a bun and braiding it, you minimize friction and tension on individual strands, reducing the risk of breakage.

8. Twisted Ponytail

Another complicated style that if executed right gives you that wow factor. There’s a reason why Ariana Grande has made it her hairstyle of choice for so many years. Again, this hairstyle isn’t going to offend anyone.

Twisted ponytail can help prevent hair breakage. When you twist your hair before securing it in a ponytail, it reduces the tension and stress on the individual hair strands. This can minimize the risk of breakage that can occur with traditional ponytails, especially if they’re too tight or placed in the same position repeatedly.


What braids don’t break your edges?

Braid styles that don’t break your edges vary depending on your hair type and the tension applied. Consult a professional stylist for personalized advice.

What braids are best for weak edges?

Gentle and less-tension braids, such as loose braids or jumbo braids, are generally better for weak edges. Professional advice is recommended.

Do cornrows damage hairline?

Cornrows can potentially damage the hairline if they are too tight or if excessive tension is applied during installation. It’s important to find a skilled stylist and communicate your concerns about hairline damage.

Are box braids bad for edges?

Box braids can sometimes cause tension on the edges if they are installed tightly or if they are too heavy. Opting for a lighter version or looser tension can help minimize the risk.

What hair type has the most breakage?

Different hair types have varying levels of breakage. Generally, fine and fragile hair types are more prone to breakage than thicker hair types.

Do protective styles help with breakage?

Protective styles, including braids, can help reduce breakage by minimizing manipulation and protecting the hair from external factors. However, proper installation and maintenance are crucial for optimal results.

Which hair type breaks the most?

Fine and fragile hair types are often more susceptible to breakage than thicker hair types.

Can braids stop hair breakage?

While braids can provide a protective environment for your hair, their effectiveness in preventing breakage depends on various factors such as installation technique, tension, and maintenance.

What are the most protective braids?

The most protective braids vary depending on individual hair needs. Some popular options include box braids, Senegalese twists, and Ghana braids. Discuss with a stylist to determine the best choice for your hair.

Do braids mess up your natural hair?

Braids, when installed and maintained properly, should not significantly damage your natural hair. However, it’s important to monitor your hair’s health and make adjustments if any issues arise.

Let’s Wrap It Up

For anyone who cares about their hair, breakage is an absolute nightmare. You need to do anything you can to avoid this in order to preserve the health of your hair. Fortunately, you now know what protective hairstyle prevents breakage.

Again, simply knowing this information is not nearly enough, you need to look after your hair diligently to ensure that breakage is minimized. This means that you must employ a good haircare routine. It doesn’t have to be a complicated one, in fact, simple ones work way better. Consistency is key here.

Along with a good haircare routine, you need to start reading labels. Harmful chemicals like paraben and sulfates have found their way into most products. You need to avoid them at all costs to prevent breakage.

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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