How to care and refresh your protective hairstyle while at home

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For many people, quarantine has made us sacrifice maintenance routines such as getting our hair and nails done on a consistent basis (among a list of other things).

Some have adopted protective hairstyles to preserve the integrity of their hair while stuck indoors — using everything from extensions, hair styling methods, low manipulative styles and even wigs to keep their hands off their tresses. I mean, the hashtag #protectivestyles has more than 7 million photos on Instagram alone.

When done properly, protective hairstyles can keep your hair polished and healthy with minimal maintenance, allowing it to grow and thrive. When NOT done properly, you risk hair breakage, intense shedding, dryness — the list goes on.

Although protective hairstyles are meant to be perfect for the no-fuss beauty lover, even they can use a bit of TLC.

So, how can you take care of your hair while at home? Here are a few of our tips:

Give your hair a good scrub

Just because your hair is in braids or twists doesn’t mean you should skip wash day. Opting for a good, sulfate-free shampoo will let your hair retain some moisture after washing. Depending on your needs, you can wash your twists and braids, especially if you notice that the product is seeping into your style.

Pro tip: If you don’t want damp hair causing added pressure on your neck, you can throw your hair into a loose, high ponytail to keep it out of your face while you use your fingertips to reach the scalp.

At least once a month, you should go in with a strong shampoo, perhaps a sulfate one, to remove bulk product build-up on the scalp or when you first take down your style. If you’re natural and worried about using a stripping shampoo, you can opt for a great deep conditioner to restore moisture after cleaning. No matter the style, you should always use a leave-in conditioner. Thankfully, conditioners don’t just come in creams, so if you don’t want a heavy buildup on your style, you can opt for a spray instead.

Credit: Getty Images

For wigs, you can revive an old piece with a few key steps, Jane Oriahki Harris, long-time hairstylist and mastermind behind the glueless wig brand, The Virgin Hair Fantasy, tells In The Know. “Using a wide-tooth comb or detangling brush, remove any tangles from the wig. Be sure to work from the ends up in small sections,” she said.

“Once your wig is fully detangled, it’s time to wash. Wet the wig and shampoo along the length of the hair. Rinse the shampoo out and then apply conditioner,” Oriahki added.

After letting it air dry, your wig is fresh and ready to be reused!

Take care of your edges, honey

This is one of those times that “snatched edges” are not ideal. To avoid alopecia and stress on the hairline as a result of heavy styles, it’s important to nurture and care for your edges on a daily basis.

So how? People, myself included, have sworn by the powers of castor oil for edges, as well as tea tree oil (a natural antiseptic), jojoba oil, rosemary oil and others. I personally love to mix rose water, jojoba oil and castor oil in a spray bottle and lightly spritz my hair every couple of days. The added moisture keeps hair hydrated without completely dousing it in water.

Credit: Getty Images

If you’re using gels and edge controls to keep your baby hair laid down, look for products that are alcohol-free and have nurturing ingredients in its formulation. Also, just lay off the heavier products in-between washes. Seriously, we’re not going anywhere and very few people are looking at you — don’t risk your edges just to be cute!

Many of us also reach for satin scarves at night, however, they can cause minor friction to already-stressed edges. Instead, swap out for a loose-fitting bonnet or a satin pillowcase that’ll allow your scalp to breathe. Remember, we want to put as little pressure on the edges as possible.

Wrap it up!

Especially if your hair is fine or tightly-coiled, you can minimize breakage and frizz simply by wrapping up your hair whenever you have downtime. Honestly, since we’re not going outside or having a lot of facetime with people nowadays, you can opt to wear your hair tied up the majority of the time.

After those Zoom meetings and quick check-ins with your manager? Throw the satin back on.

“Take it down and get cute,” Yusef Williams, Rihanna’s longtime hairstylist, told The Zoe Report. “But aside from those isolated instances, you’re not in the office and nobody will see you. I think right now if you want to preserve your hair, it’s best to really do nothing.”

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