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Celebrity hairstylist tips on keeping natural hair healthy while wearing box braids, twists, and other protective styles

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Protective hairstyles have become the go-to option for many women of color who want to give their natural strands a break—especially during the summer months.

These hairstyles can range from box braids to faux locs, cornrows and more.

“A protective style is any style that protects the ends of your hair from damage,” Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist and natural hair care expert Erinn Courtney tells Good Morning America.

“The benefits of conservation styles are that they are low maintenance and time efficient in everyday life,” she added. “You can also maintain the length of your hair without being damaged by external elements, heat or chemicals.”

Photo: Jourdan Dunn outside the Jean-Paul Gaultier Autumn/Winter 2022/2023 Haute Couture show during Paris Fashion Week on July 6, 2022.

Jourdan Dunn outside the Jean-Paul Gaultier Autumn/Winter 2022/2023 Haute Couture show during Paris Fashion Week on July 6, 2022.

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

While these styles offer women the range and versatility to try out a variety of different looks, continuing to care for your natural tresses is essential if you want to maintain the overall health of your hair and scalp.

Several experts agree that it’s also important to consult a professional about how long to keep your protective style, braided, or stretched before removing and updating your style.

Just ahead, Courtney — who’s created protective styles for everyone from Willow Smith to singer-songwriter Goapele — breaks down her best tips and tricks for maintaining box braids, wigs, twists, and more while caring for natural hair. practice.

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Tips for Preserving Natural Hair When Wearing Protective Styles

General Motors Association: What are some of your top maintenance tips for those who want to wear box braids, knotless, cornrow extensions and more this summer while maintaining natural hair health?

Erinn Courtney: Wearing these protective styles is actually the first step in preserving the health of your natural hair. When wearing these styles, be sure to moisturize your natural hair with oil, as synthetic hair tends to absorb moisture from your hair. Be sure to protect the style with a silk or satin scarf at night or while hanging out so it doesn’t spoil the look. Adding styling foam to the look once a week and then wrapping it in a scarf can also help hold the look longer and reduce frizz.

How do you properly wash your box braids without ruining your style?

To wash your braids without ruining the style, focus the wash on the scalp area without scratching too hard. Gently cleanse the scalp with the pad of your fingertips, then rinse, without disturbing the actual braid with your fingers.

What’s the best practice for wearing protective styles while keeping natural strands healthy?

Be sure to do a good foundation or braid. This will help protect the ends of the hair under the wig or braid. Deep condition and trim your hair frequently so that it can grow and maintain its length when your hair is under the wig. Keeping your natural hair moist with an oil or conditioner is also a good practice.

What are your favorite products to use to maintain natural strands when wearing box braids or protective styles?

I love Palmer’s Shine Therapy Hair & scalp oil. When wearing braids, using it makes it easy to distribute the oil evenly on the scalp and hair. I also love Sunday II Sunday Root Refresh. It’s lightweight yet hydrating, ideal for women who are constantly active and busy. It keeps hair moist and smells fresh.



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