Protective styles can be super amazing for several reasons. They give you a new look, they are fun and exciting, but best of all they protect our hair/prevent us from having to consistently do our hair. But… the protective style can be mistreated/misused and the protection that it is providing will all go in vain. A protective style that is not properly taken care of or even worse is left in way way way too long can cause extremely damaging effects to the hair.
Take for example the woman who left her weave in for over two years… you can read up more on that case right here. So with that cautionary tale in the past lets look at some tell tale signs that its time to remove your protective style.
If you see one or more of these signs you should consider taking it down and giving your hair some time to breathe before jumping right back into the protective styling ring. Especially if you are adding in hair whether artificial or not.
1. Looks Old & Dingy: When you first install your protective style it looks fabulous and amazing. Obviously with some wear and tear that initial appearance is going to fade away no matter how great you are a preservation tactics (ie: pineappleing, tying hair up at night…etc). It is the natural process of the protective styling process for it to change as your hair grows…etc. If your protective style looks incredibly dull, old, dingy, knotted…etc then it may be time to take it down. Even if you haven’t had it in for a long time you don’t want to leave your hair in a state where it is starting to knot or loc up on its own. Last year I had a sew in weave installed for two weeks that I had to remove because my hair underneath was matting to the extensions. I rather remove a protective style “early” then sacrifice the health and condition of my hair.
2. Has been installed more than 6 weeks: Certain protective styles last longer than others and some may take a very long time before they start to “look old and dingy”. Just because the protective style still looks fresh doesn’t mean you should keep it in until it starts to look old and dingy. Leaving a protective style for more than 6-8 weeks not only puts you in the danger zone of hair matting/locking it also puts you into the zone of increased shedding/damage and breakage. This negates the whole protective styling process. If you are not retaining the new growth you have gained then there was no point in protective styling. 6 weeks is usually my limit for any protective style and I say 8 should be the extreme limit.
3. Hair is Dangling because of new growth: Whether it is a sew in, braids, twists or faux locs when your hair starts to grow in the initial install will start to hang/dangle from the base. This should not be ignored. While you may be thrilled/happy that your hair is growing with the protective styling pulling on the new growth you are creating a new form of tension that can actually cause breakage. I start to remove the braids/twists I find are hanging/dangling too much for my comfort. Pay attention to how much tension is occurring based on how long you have had the protective style in. If it looks like your hair is holding on by a thread… it may be time to remove your protective style.
4. Giving off an odor: Uhhh… this one is more so for wigs and sew ins that are attached to the head and make it difficult to get to your scalp. If you have a protective style in and it is starting to give off a strange odor… TAKE THAT THING OUT OF YOUR HEAD! It is not worth it to get that extra week of “fleek” and have mold or worse growing on your hair.
5. Hair feels dry/matted: Like I stated earlier I had a sew in weave installed for two weeks and I did not like how my natural hair felt underneath. I also didnt like how the sew in hair felt on top of my head. If your hair or the added hair feels dry, looks or feels matted it may be time to cut the strings and take that protective style out. You should never sacrifice the health of your hair for any style especially if it is causing long lasting effects that will cause you to lose your hair.
What signs do you look for when contemplating whether or not you should remove your protective style. Share your tips/signs in the comments below.
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