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Curly Nikki

Calling All Protective Stylers!

By January 27th, 202148 Comments
Calling All Protective Stylers!

Courtney writes:

How do you know when protective styles (e.g., twists, braids, buns, etc.) are benefiting or hurting your length and/or volume retention?

Do you think that the initial manipulation to put them in and re-styling can do more harm than good?

For those who find them beneficial, how long do you think they must stay in consistently (without re-doing) in order to be effective?


  • Sydney says:

    When you say that you keep your updo in for a week do you mean that you don't take it down at night or you wear the same style each day? Thanks!

  • Sydney says:

    Lately what I've done is wear my hair in medium size twists and pull them back into a low ponytail. Basically, I did my hair routine, washed, detangled, protein treatment, DT then I sprayed my hair down with a homemade "refresher spray" (aloe vera juice, water, olive oil and argan oil) then applied shea leave in conditioner and put my hair into 21 twists sealing with One n only argan oil and used perm rods on the ends that wouldn't hold together on their own. In the morning I took out the perm rods and smoothed my hair back pulled an ouchless hair band over the bunch just to keep them back. It looks surprisingly chic and is a time saver in the morning.

  • sandy davis posted september 6 2011 says:

    yes i conrow my hair for about four weeks and my hair grew like crazy. i was mindful to use essential oils every other day to condition my scalp and hair and tied wrapped my hair in a satin scarf evey night. also used minoxidil scalp treatment on my scalp twice a day for regrowth of hair. i found that this regimen was extremely healthy for my hair growth journey. now before relaxing my new growth i placed conditioner and oil on the relaxed hair to protect it from the chemical relaxer used for my new growth. once my hair was relaxed i realized that i had about two inches of new growth

  • Anonymous says:

    yes i conrow my hair for about four weeks and my hair grew like crazy. i did not put any extensions just braided my own hair. relaxed after a couple of days and saw significant grow. oh yeah oiled my hair and use mixonodil scalp treatment twicw a day. plan on re braiding my hair in a couple of weeks of deep conditioning and moisterizing. so by leaving especially african american chemically alone meaning wearing braids buns french twist with lots of deep conditioning will help hair to grow.

  • Unknown says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Unknown says:

    Can you please do a tutorial of that hair style?

  • Avanna says:

    @Anon 12/22 10:52
    I straightened to blend and did have breakage, but it could be partially because I moved to a very dry climate (Arizona) at the same time. I think if you moisturize a lot and only straighten occasionally, and find some other type of styles, you may not have the same problem.

  • Terra D says:

    I love protective styles, but my hair needs to still be loose. I prefer buns and pinups that protect the ends. I do them on braid out hair, from wash day. Each night I remove the pins, and moisturize with my water spritz, oil and a cream. I then make a loose floppy bun with the ends tucked and put my satin scarf/bonnet over it, this keeps the edges sleek as well!

    Braids and Twists leave my ends too exposed and seems to dry out no matter how much I try to moisturize.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hello everyone. I'm a senior in high school with BSL very curly wavy type hair.. I got my last perm in Oct. of 2009 and throughout my transition I've mainly straightened the natural to blend in with the permed, only until all of my perm is out. People say this will break my hair off but I have yet to have it happen to me.. Does EVERYONE who straightend to blend have breakage issues?

  • IcyLillies says:

    I was wondering, do any of you think that low manipulation is just as good as protective styling? So far, I've been rocking a small bun, but I normally have to take it down every night and restyling it in the morning because it gets frizzy even after I add gel. Other clips like the banana clip or hair sticks pull my hair to the point where it hurts too…

    I want to continue wearing buns, but even though my ends are protected, what about my poor roots or edges? This week, I'm going to try and wear my hair out and curly and do nothing with it except moisturize it and perhaps pin it up if it gets messy.
    Have any of you gain or retained any length by simply leaving your hair out with little to no manipulation?
    I have SLH when stretched out… thanks!

  • Anonymous says:

    kinky twists
    single braids
    yarn braids

  • The Retro Natural says:

    I use to do two strand twists but I hated leaving them in for 2 weeks out of laziness and then fighting with myself to take them down. Now, I do low buns and pinup styles to protect my hair and I notice it's been doing much better with regard to softness and length retention.

  • apaine says:

    i have small box braids now which i do myself. i co-wash and dc overnight once a week. spray with water, leave in and an oil to seal daily. i go through and rebraid section by section vs taking the whole head out. this way i can take my time, gently comb out the shed hair/lint and keep them looking fresh. i started the rebraid after a month of wearing them and it took me about three days for the whole head rebraid. DEFINITELY beneficial to my health and length retention! i was stuck at a little past shoulder length for a long time and ps's helped me get to almost mid back length within this year alone!

  • kitka82 says:

    I remember my mom cornrowing my hair when I was a child, and she would keep them in for about 2 weeks at a time. This gave her a break, and it definitely allowed my hair to grow. My go-to "protective style" is two-strand twists. My hair is in between TWA and BAA, so that's pretty much the only style I've done, besides cornrows.

    Twisting my own hair with shea butter allows it to remain moisturized, and I can keep them in for over a week. This is much less damaging to my hair than twists/braids with extensions (probably because I haven't quite figured out the best way to detangle all that buildup).

    Any time to do anything to your hair, you're going to sustain some damage. Even if you don't touch your hair, it sheds on its own. I'm excited for my hair to get longer, so I can do more with it, and so I can keep my twists in longer :)

  • Diva of Shea Butter says:

    I am a fan of Braids with extension. I did the big chop last December 8th and I have worn braids for 9 months and wore my hair in styles from Sept to Now. I have put my hair back in braids. I did notice how much my hair has grown. I noticed more length with braids or twist. My hair was shoulder length when it was relaxed. It has grown almost to the same length. Its not about always wearing your hair. But if you want your hair to grow you have to leave it alone in a style for month or so. I have found since i have no relaxer completely, my hair is growing and faster with a protective style.

  • westNDNbeauty says:

    You're Welcome @Shelli


  • Anonymous says:

    I style once a week and I still consider it protective styling. Oil lightly with coconut oil every night. Dont comb it everyday. Deep condition with oil + your conditioner of choice. Only comb when washing under running water with conditioner. Patiently detangle. If you still have lots of shedding you may want to consider a trim.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry, needed an .html at the end of that link:


  • Anonymous says:

    West's style, pictured in the image above, was also posted by Nikki in July and is under the video tab:

    I tried the style with braids (I couldn't get the two strand twists tight enough) came out very well and I got quite a few compliments. So, thank you WestNDNbeauty, if you happen to see this=). You always have beautiful and creative styles.


  • Ashlee says:

    i would call my self a protective styler, and the style actually is benefitial to my hair i believe because it keeps my hands out of my hair and my ends are protected. i usually leave my hair in a protective style for a couple days take down DC and restyle and i do that for months… lol and because i do quick and easy styles its not really alot of handling and broken hair in the process…

  • westNDNbeauty says:


  • Anonymous says:

    I usually keep my braids up for 1 week. If I let them longer my hair will look messing. Also medium braids are better then that small ones. the small ones are difficult to take down and that when the damage is created.

    Could we get a tutorial of the updo in the picture above?

  • Kenya says:

    How do you know when protective styles (e.g., twists, braids, buns, etc.) are benefiting or hurting your length and/or volume retention?
    – If my hair isn't in extensions I can't tell; because when in extensions I can see the new growth. If it's just my hair, the style tends to undo itself.

    Do you think that the initial manipulation to put them in and re-styling can do more harm than good?
    – YES!!! When I PS (mini braids or mini twists) I blow dry my hair to stretch it and i abhor it :/ However, next time I style my hair I'm gonna try banding.

    For those who find them beneficial, how long do you think they must stay in consistently (without re-doing) in order to be effective?
    – My hair benefits after 2 weeks, but I'm trying to stretch it to 1 month… However, I redo my mini twists after 2 weeks because they get major frizz!

  • Jamie K says:

    I wear braidouts, twistouts, and flat twist sets..I do believe that putting the styles in do cause a certain amount of damage but I don't think there's any style that is 100% damage free. I think that fact that twist and braids allow you to go for days/weeks/month with little to no manipulation makes up (somehow)for the stress that goes with styling

  • Leo the Yardie Chick says:

    I'm contemplating doings twists or braids (both without extensions) the next time around, but I love protective styles. For me, it's not so much about protection as it is 'me not having to do my hair every dang morning'. Just spritz, seal and go. :D

  • The Melanista says:

    I'm not a fan of protective styling, but I do them quite often. I do mostly twists and I pin them up, similar to the picture shown on the post. I did mini twists before, and as convenient as they were, I may not do them again. My ends were so tangled and I had so many knots. I definitely need to dust my ends, but I had crazy shedding after taking them down.

    I'm indifferent to mini twists, but I do notice growth when I keep my hands out of hair for a long period of time. They are beneficial.

  • CessCurls says:

    Q. How do you know when protective styles (e.g., twists, braids, buns, etc.) are benefiting or hurting your length and/or volume retention?
    A. When my ends, scalp & overall appearance of my hair are both moisturized and healthy, and I literally see hair growth/progress, I know I am doing the right thing. Thinning edges, breakage, excessive dry hair/scalp are no no's something needs to be adjusted.

    Q.Do you think that the initial manipulation to put them in and re-styling can do more harm than good?
    A. I try to make sure I am gentle as possible and that my hair is WELL moisturized before I manipulate my hair anytime…period. Even when restyling. Moisturize(meaning water),Seal(Shea butter/coconut oil mix)Then style/re-style in that order.

    Q.For those who find them beneficial, how long do you think they must stay in consistently (without re-doing) in order to be effective?
    A.My rule of thumb is no less than 4 days in 3 days out IF I decide to wear it out at all. UNLESS my hair is in small twists braids etc. Then I extend it for no less than 2 weeks. But whether I leave them in or not I still keep my ends moisturized and stick to my weekly scalp washes.

    I LOOOOOVE protective styling. I wear my hear like this 95% of the time and only wear it out on "special occasions".It is what works best for my hair and I. And so far we seem to be getting along fine, meaning I haven't had a bad hair day yet LOL HTH HHHJ

  • jetblack says:

    thanks but the rope twisting thing makes it worse because you are twisting the hair together in each strand used to make a two strand twist. more twisting encourages more knots.

  • Anonymous says:

    I only fingercomb and my hair is tightly coiled and highly textured.

    -Anon 8:32 pm

  • Anonymous says:

    -I know my protective styles (rolled, tucked and pinned updos) benefit because my ends are in good condition and I am retaining length.

    -I do my updos on braid out hair. After washing, detangling and moisturizing I braid my hair up. The next day, I take down the braids, seal my ends and style the braid out hair into an updo. I leave my styles in for a week. Then I repeat the whole process. My routine is pretty low manipulation (and low maintenance :) ).

    -I keep my updos in for a week. After that, I need to wash my hair so the style has to come down. I've seen great length retention since starting this regimen so I know it works.

  • Anonymous says:

    I like to wear protective styles for 4 to 7 weeks, and then do a my treatments on my hair for two weeks before putting my hair in another protective style. Braids always seem to work the best for me, with and without extensions. I wish I had better luck with twists, but I retain more length when I braid my hair.
    At this time, I like wearing my afro so I braid it up every night as a protective style and then unleash my curls in the morning. I am definitely considering braiding my hair during winter break, because my hair needs a break. I will miss my curls, but I know the time will fly.
    BTW, love the new look of your blog and thanks for all the wonderful information. LLP~OGC

  • Jacquie says:

    Well, I found using kinky twists was terrible for my hair, the extensions were harsh and the take down was not easy. I didn't retain as much length and it too me ages to detangle.

    I find doing twists (any size) on my natural hair is best and I see more benefits when I keep them in to 3 weeks or more. To avoid the hair locking, you should twist the hair in a rope style, so twirling each strand of hair individually then twisting it. There are loads of tutorials on rope twisting on YouTube. To take the hair down (and act as a pre poo) use any hair oil and coat the hair, making sure all the twists have been covered with oil. Wait 5-30 mins and the hair will be so much easier to take down and detangle. Hope this helps! (I'm a type 4 natural if this is any use)

  • Anonymous says:

    Braiding or twisting can indeed be damaging if the wrong techniques are used. It's important to avoid rough combing, tight braiding or twisting especially along the hair line. I like medium to large twists unfortunately I find it harder to keep them neat. Small twists are nice looking but I think they lead to split ends and knots because the hair tends to tangle up. I have found that using extensions like in kinky twists reduces tangling since the ends of your own hair are not twirled around each other at the ends.
    Currently my protective styles are cornrows. I will be trying some kinky twists soon for longer wear.
    Learning how to braid or twist your own hair really cuts down on the damage that might ensue after a salon visit. If you must visit a salon make sure you let the stylist know if they are doing something you aren't happ about!

  • Anonymous says:

    I put 11 twists in at night every other night. In am I take them down and either bun my hair with ends concealed or wear it out. On nights when I twist I usr a spritz bottle with water all over and coconut oil on ends. Works well . I only finger comb.

  • leslie says:

    I forgot to add that I LOVE your blog!!! I read it everyday sometimes twice to make sure i don't miss a thing!Its a big help for us transitioners:)

  • leslie says:

    I wear protective/transitional styles for 2 1/2to 3 months at a time. I cornrow my hair straight back and then i crochet curly hair in.I cut all my relaxer off and i refuse to wear my hair short, so i'm going to keep this up until i get the big curly fro!Since i've been doing this, my hair has REALLY grown.I wash my scalp lightly when it gets icky, then i spray Mizanis' Hair Milk evry other day or so.

  • Keisha says:

    I initially tried to wear 2ST as a protective style but I felt that the inital manipulation was doing my hair more harm than good. Even taking down the 2ST was too time consuming and damaging. After 3 installments of 2ST over a months time, I went on to try something different… Bunning :) I've been bunning for the past 4 months now and I can truly say its the best, beneficial protective style for my hair. As far as restyling the bun, all I do is spritz water on my edges, apply some ecostyler gel, smooth the edges back with the palms of my hands, tie a satin scarf on for 30 minutes and viola. No brushing needed and very minimal manipulation. At night i'll spritz the bun with a moisturizing spray and baggy the bun part only. The bun last for the entire week. Im sure it could last longer but by day 7 or 8, my scalp begins to itch. I definitely find bunning to be beneficial in length retention.

  • Kristen :o) says:

    I am hoping to keep them in 2STs and cornrows this winter. I have a friend who cornrows and she said she'll do mine for free!!! I make jewelry though so maybe we can barter services!!! LOL I never knew about "protective styles" until I got on CN. So informative!!! :o)

  • Anume says:

    I wear a Wash N Go most times as protective style. I usually use a bobby pin to put done my sides. I have had a lot of sucess with this, and I have 4b/c hair. I co wash every 3-4 days. I Wash N Go allows me to leave my hair only. I just moisture everyday with oils and same CD Hair Milk. This is great for shoulder lengthen hair. I love it because I like how my shrink looks.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have found small twists damaging to my hair. I don't know why, but when I tried to wear 1/2 inch wide twists as a regular style a couple of years ago, I ended up with split ends and had to cut off a few inches. I now stick with my regular style of 4-6 braids. I typically braid the large braids after a wash, let set overnight and then take down and wear the defined hair pinned up. I loosely braid in 2-4 braids again at night. I have not experienced any damaged or split ends from large braids and have grown quite a bit more length. Twists are a no no for me.

  • Anonymous says:

    same here. i have been trying twista but after a week i have lock (both parts of the twist are matted) but its not long enough for any other style (i know of)

  • jetblack says:

    Note: I meant putting it on the tips five mins before taking them out

  • jetblack says:

    i have 4b/c hair and my hair begins to loc after a week in twists (its insane). So i worried about the damage of taking twists apart. but putting some KCNT or some other type of moisture-rich conditioner on the tips *really* helped. And allows me to do twist-outs that dont look crazy

  • Nikki says:

    I personally keep my twists in at least 2 weeks and at the most 1 month. I have seen a GREAT benefit in hair growth and length retention. I continue to moisturize with water and water-based moisturizer I'm in the mood for.

    I think the initial manipulation is okay as long as you are gentle and use the correct products for your hair. Everyone's hair is different so you have to figure out what's best for you.

    And finally I think that you know that your method of protective styling is doing more harm than good…if your edges are getting thin or you see breakage ie hairs without the white bulb.

    Peace and Hair Grease!

  • Anonymous says:

    My mom always told me the less you mess with your hair, the more your hair will grow. I found that to be true with my hair. Always combing and brushig everyday took my hair out.Once i stopped and put twists and braids in and left my hair alone it grew. Now im telling my girls the same. I keep protective styles in every wk for them. Every time i take it out there hair is a tad bit longer than last wk. Like your hair style!!!

  • HolisticLifeRN says:

    two strand twist are my protective style of choice. its my favorite style in general. I think the amont of time you keep them in depends on each individuals hair. for me I can keep them in for up to 3 weeks without any harm. I notice of course the longer you keep your hair twisted the more shedding you will have during wash/detangle sessions. If you arent good or patient with detangling, i wouldnt keep them in too long because then you will lose hair with improper detangling

  • Anonymous says:

    I can't lie. I absolutely LOVE how braids can keep my hair protected for up to 3 months. But I HATE how my stylist manipulates my hair to get them into those perfect little braids…so much damage in 4 hours. Does that eliminate all the benefits of 3 months of protection though? Probably not :-)

  • Cara B. says:

    I'm not sure how to answer this question but my go to protective style is twists and I style them when I need/want to. Wearing twists have really helped me retain my length and keep my hair moisturized. I was wondering though, can we see a tutorial for the hairstyle pictured above?? That is fierce!!

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