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Home / Hair

How to prepare your hair for protective styling

 Beyoncé showing off her braids at the Lion King movie premier (Photo: Instagram @beyoncé)

One of the things I enjoy most about having natural hair is the option to change up my look when the whim strikes me. I can have my ‘fro out, opt for protective styles like braids, weaves or wigs.

Just as you take extra care to keep your natural hair moisturised and healthy, you also need to ensure that your hair isn’t put under any strain while it is plaited. The care you put into preparing your hair for plaiting will ensure it remains strong, healthy and your plaits last longer.

Below are five tips to help you prepare your hair for protective styling.

1. Deep cleanse

Wash your hair thoroughly to remove any grease, dirt and oil. Naturalista and vlogger Margie Muga recommends a sulphate-free shampoo.

2. Deep condition

Conditioners help with detangling your hair. Conditioners also help with moisturising your strands preventing them from drying and breaking.

 Gabrielle Union has been rocking many protective hairstyles lately (Photo: Instagram @gabunion)

3. Trim your ends

Snip off any knots and split ends before you get your hair plaited to avoid tangles and the subsequent breakage that comes when you try to detangle. Trimming also gives the braids a smoother finish and keeps your hair neater for longer.

4. Choose your stylist carefully

I find it easier to instruct the stylist of my desires before she starts. I like to straighten my hair before I plait it. Most times I do it at home. If you opt to go to the salon, tell them that you just want your hair straightened and not full blow dry. Keep an eye out for when your hair is just straight and ask them to stop before they over-process your hair.

When it comes time to braiding, instruct them not to touch your edges. Some hairstylists like to plait even the baby hairs and this will ruin your hairline. By leaving your baby hairs untouched you are sure to protect your hairline.

For lines, Margie advices beginning with your hair before adding the braids as this not only protects your hairline but also helps the lines last longer.

Which body part do you wish you could detach temporarily and why?
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