Yes, protective styling is the key to hair length retention for most. However, it means nothing if we do not take care of our hair while it is in braids/weaves. Many years went by and I couldn’t figure out why even though my hair grew significantly in braids, it broke off almost immediately. Here are a few tips to retaining length while protective styling:
DO NOT change your routine
Once our hair is braided or weaved, we tend to forget about it. However, our hair still needs TLC! I wash and deep condition my hair once a week, and this doesn’t change when my hair is braided. I shampoo (I’m using diluted Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa at the moment) focusing on getting my scalp cleansed. Then I apply a cheap conditioner and travel down the length of the braid to where my real hair ends. I let the conditioner sit for about an hour.
Keep hair moisturized
Moisture is still key when dealing with extremely curly hair…especially in colder weather. I keep my braids moisturized daily with a nice homemade concoction; I fill up my spray bottle with mostly water, then add a few pumps of Herbal Essence Long Term Relationship (insert your favorite leave in here) and add an oil such as avocado, grape seed or almond. The same applies to my weaved ladies! Keep your scalp in great condition by keeping it cleansed and oiled*.
*Side note: Some women have naturally oily scalps, so you can skip this step. Applying a clarifying agent to your hair about once a month, helps to control the amount of oil your scalp secretes naturally; it also keeps your follicles from blocking up.
DO NOT keep extensions in for an overextended period of time
Many years ago one of my family members decided to get a weave. Her reasoning was if she kept her hair weaved for a .long time her hair would grow like crazy. She kept the weave in for 3 1/2 months…yeah. When she finally took the weave out, clumps of her hair came out with it! She didn’t realize that hair needs to be cleansed and conditioned on a regular basis. This was before youtube, hair blogs and networking sites..we blindly followed our equally un/misinformed hairstylists. Please do not keep a weave in for more than 2 months at a time.
When sleeping, keep your hair covered with satin scarf or use satin pillowcases
Some might disagree, but I think sleeping with a satin bonnet is a good idea extensions or not..it just decreases any friction your hair might experience throughout the night.