Maintaining Box Braids/Protective Styles for Maximum Length Retention

After my traumatizing experience getting my box braids installed, it was safe to say that I was a little on the hypervigilant side about my haircare. The whole experience just kind of put me in the mindset of "setback avoidance". Needless to say, I was very determined to figure out the ins and outs of the best ways to maintain protective styles like mine. I didn't want to go thru all of that trouble in vain and end up having to do a major trim or something because of not taking good enough care of the length of my hair. Some women feel like protective styles equal "set it and forget it". And there are probably a few that get away with it, but trust me, they are the exception, not the rule. These are the things I focused on to maintain the style and the health of my hair:

Moisturizing & Sealing
This is one of the most important things!  Especially if you have in extensions; the braiding hair can be very drying to your natural hair making this step even more necessary. Just like any other time, you have to make sure the length of your hair does not get dry and become prone to breakage. It's best to do this with sprays because of the fact that you don't have real access to your hair to be able to judge how moisturized it is or isn't. Spraying it will ensure the moisture is distributed throughout the hair and isn't just sitting on top like it could when just rubbing a typical moisturizer in with your hands. 

Tip: Make Your Own Moisturizing and Oil Mixes
I made a moisturizing mix after washing my hair the first time, when moisturizing with a braid spray didn't seem like it would be enough. Especially since I wasn't doing a deep conditioning treatment. I mixed water with Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner and let it sit for a few hours. It became a very light creamy spray that I could spray directly on my scalp or into my hands and apply to the length of my hair. It made my hair feel very soft even after it was dry and ensured I wouldn't need to moisturize again the very next day. I also made an oil mix to seal with by adding grapeseed and olive oils to Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Reconstructive Elixir.  

Washing & Scalp Care
I know I have already somewhat went into detail about how I washed my box braids and how I kept my scalp in good shape in previous posts, but it's worth mentioning again because both of those things helped me maintain the health of my hair and scalp during that style. If your scalp is dirty, has product buildup or other issues, it is not going to be a good environment to promote hair growth or retain moisture. Your hair will inevitably grow, but not like it would in a healthy, clean environment. One thing that's bad about product buildup is that it disables you hair from accepting anymore moisture or anything you may try to put on it. If this is the case, you hair may get too dry and break off at the ends. 

Tip: Use Dry Shampoo (pictured above)
This is a great way to make sure you hair and scalp stay clean without compromising the look of your style.

Night routine
Last but not least, wrapping your hair up at night helps preserve your style and retain moisture. Allowing your hair to just rub all over you pillow will bring fuzziness with the quickness! It will also rob your hair of all the moisture you were so diligent about keeping in it. 

Tip: Buy a large scarf or a satin braid bonnet
All of my scarves were too small for the length and weight of this style. Even if they were big enough to cover it, they were't strong enough to keep it held up. That braid bonnet kept all of that hair tied up off my neck and stayed on my head through my wild sleeping the night.

That's just three simple things you can do to make sure your protective styling is successful and you maintain all the length you can! 


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