Everything is controversial these days, and the topic of protective styling is no different. So are you Team Protective Styling or Team No Benefit To Protective Styling? There are folks who simply love protective styles and once the cold weather strikes, they have bought their hair, and their appointment is booked—whether that be with their stylist, friend or they plan on doing it themselves. Most people install a protective style during the colder months, but you can install during any season. There are rules though, for installations. If you know you’re lazy, do not get extensions! I repeat, if you know you’re lazy, do not get extensions done at all. They do require maintenance. So, who is responsible for you reaping the benefits of protective styling—You! That’s right, you are the one! It is your responsibility, and we’ll get into that in a moment.
Protective styles are great because they are supposed to give your hair a break from styling and/or the elements for a period of time. There are a few things that have to be considered before installing extensions.
1. What Is The Current State Of Your Hair?
The current state of your hair is the most important of all the questions that should be asked. This should determine if you are a candidate for extensions, and if so, which ones you can choose from. If someone has damaged hair that is too fragile for extensions, I would not suggest extensions as an option because it may cause further wear and tear on the hair. If your hairline is weak, and the rest of your hair is in good condition, I would suggest leaving your hairline out and maybe doing a crochet braid method for extensions. Lastly, if your hairline and the rest of your hair is unhealthy, I may not suggest extensions as an option at all. At that point, the hair would not be able to support the extensions.
2. Have you Ever Had Extensions Before?
This is important to know because it gives me another piece of the person’s hair history and also gives me an indication that the person had some basic knowledge as to how to maintain their extensions. I imagine it could also be the complete opposite as well too, but at least they know the bare minimum.
3. How Long Do You Plan On Wearing The Extensions For?
Knowing what your expectations are for your installation is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY important. There are certain protective styles that do not last as long as others. You also want to make sure that you choose the protective style that will best suit your lifestyle, face shape, and hair goals (if you have any). Protective styles weren’t created equally. Braids and twists, last about the same amount of time, and give you entirely different looks. It doesn’t matter what type of extensions you wear, those installments shouldn’t be in longer than 8 weeks. And to be fair, depending on how fast your hairline/hair grows in, you may require a touch-up before the 8 weeks is complete. Think about it, we lose 50 – 100 strands of hair daily, and while wearing extensions, all of that shed-hair is locked into the extension. If you keep your installment longer than 8 weeks, you’re going to have huge tangle issues when it comes time to remove the hair. The shed-hair will get tangled up with the rest of your hair and the extension as well.
4. What Is Your Maintenance Plan For This Set Of Extensions?
This is the big one. I have heard people say that they have no plan. They are done. Their protective style was installed and that’s it, they’re good to go. Wrong! That’s not how protective styles work. Just because you have extensions now, it doesn’t mean that you don’t touch your hair again for the duration of the extensions. When people do that, that is exactly how, they’re hair doesn’t benefit from the protective style. You still have to maintain and care for the hair under those braids, twists, crochet braids or weave. You have to cleanse the scalp and keep it moisturized, so that once the installment is taken out, your hair has been protected properly. My fabulous clients have the pleasure of receiving some aftercare advice from me, along with an aftercare email.
The Condition Of Your Hair Once The Extensions Are Removed:
Once the installment is removed, you will see that some shed-hair is present, but your hair shouldn’t be feeling dry, it should feel moisturized. If it does feel this way, it means that you have done a fantastic job maintaining/moisturizing your hair. Some of my favourite oils are Apricot, Almond, and Rosemary. I like the almond and apricot oils because they lubricate well, while feeling really light on my scalp and hair. Apricot oil is especially great for dry hair and skin, and I also use it on my skin daily. Rosemary is a recent favourite for me. I would suggest this oil to anyone wearing a protective style or even two-strand twists with your own hair because it aids in hair growth and maintaining a healthy scalp. I absolutely, love this oil.
People seem to have this idea that a protective style is supposed to do all the work for them. Nope! Extensions are interesting because they are suitable for those with slightly damaged hair to healthy hair, not severely damaged hair. Having said that, I don’t believe extensions cause harm on their own. Harm is caused when there has been an improper install, ie. installed too tightly, which can cause traction alopecia. Harm is also caused by the way the hair is maintained after protective style has been installed. After performing an extension service, as stated earlier, I send out an aftercare extension email, so that way I know I have provided the information necessary for my client to gain the full benefits of wearing the protective style for several weeks. So, who’s job is it to maintain the protective style? Who gets the blame at the end of 6-8 weeks, when the install is removed and the hair isn’t in good condition? I certainly don’t get the blame. IT IS YOUR JOB TO MAINTAIN YOUR HAIR, while you have your extensions in. I can only do a consultation, the install, and provide the aftercare advice.
Here Are Some Tips For Maintaining Your Extensions:
Cleanse, moisturize, and repeat. I use a clarifying shampoo to ensure that my scalp is clean, and then I follow with an oil, apricot or rosemary oil. In addition to this, I oil my scalp probably every night. It isn’t necessary, but I like to do this. If you prefer, you can get a spray bottle, fill it up with water, and add your favourite oil mixture to this and lightly spray, just to make sure that your scalp and hair is getting some moisture. You can also use this mixture or a spray for synthetic hair on the rest of your hair. I am not actually a huge fan of braid sprays, as some of them create buildup and can cause irritation (not all). Again, if you have a braid spray that has worked well for you, let me know about it, and I will share with the lovely folks I know. I’m not the God of hair, and you don’t actually have to listen to a word I have written here, but trust when I say, less is definitely more. Alternatively, you can use an apple cider rinse to cleanse or use a moisturizing shampoo instead. I don’t follow with a conditioner, as it isn’t necessary and can leave your hair and scalp with buildup. If you require more moisture than what the oil and water mixture can do for you, I would suggest using a leave-in spray product or create your own. Some people use a butter for their scalp while wearing extensions. If that works for you—great, but that can definitely create unnecessary buildup around the root of your extensions.
Here’s The Test:
It’s that time…time for the removal of the extensions. If you have done an awesome job at keeping your scalp and extensions moisturized, then your removal of the installment should be a breeze. Cut the extension around where you think your hair may be—don’t cut your hair! Then, unravel from the ends to the base. Simply separate the hair at the base and pull away any shed-hair. Do one extension at a time. Please do not become overwhelmed with this stage. This is where Netflix comes in handy or some other form of entertainment. Separating the hair at the base and removing the shed-hair is the MOST important step of the entire removal process. If you don’t do that, you will be detangling for hours and tears may form from the frustration—don’t let it happen to you! If you think your hair may be dry, you can place conditioner on your scalp before the removal process that way; the conditioner has loosened up any residue that may be built up at the base.
So, for goodness sakes please do a great job of cleansing and moisturizing your hair, while it is locked away in a protective style—your hair will love you for it! Remember, when you focus on the health of your hair, everything else falls into place. If you have any questions about extensions, do your research, ask your friends (if they are knowledgeable or have experience) or ask your stylist. Ah, you can also contact me, if you’d like!
…again, these are simply suggestions…but they have been working for myself and my clients….So…until next time…Remember, Natural Hair Doesn’t Have To Be That Tricky!
Hair By Glenna
*My makeup was done by Nadia, of Makeup By NV. She is awesome to work with, and you can find her on Facebook and Instagram. Her email is, firstname.lastname@example.org