Protective styles are staples in the black hair community. A lot of women wear them during summer and just as many wear them all year round. Protective styles serve many purposes. From allowing a woman to transition (going from the creamy crack to chemical free hair) with ease to allowing the hair a break from all the tugging, pulling and stressing that many women put on it, protective styling is a no-brainer.

There are several ways that you can incorporate a protective style into your life. By far wearing any form of braids is the most popular. They last long, vary in length and are fairly easy to maintain. In essence, protective styles rock but sometimes those who wear them fall short of taking care of their hair underneath. That’s where your hair care routine comes in after you are done with your protective style. If you keep braids in for three months and never oil or wash your tresses, they will need major tender love and care.

So here are some tips on how to treat your hair after wearing your protective styles.

Detangle

This is non-negotiable. Many times, your hair can become filled with knots that need to be taken care of before you shampoo. It is not a good idea to wet your hair for any reason if it contains knots because you are going to have a killer time trying to safely comb them out. I am going to tell you now that it usually doesn’t work and you end up majorly damaging your hair. Use a wide-tooth comb and detangle in sections if possible.

Pre-Poo

This is always a good idea, regardless if you’re doing it after having a protective style or not. I suggest doing a hot oil treatment to help add some moisture back to your hair. This can be done by taking your favorite oil, heating it up, applying it to your hair and letting it “simmer” under a heating or shower cap. This will get your pores open and ready for the next stage of your hair care regimen.

Use a Clarifying Shampoo

Most of the time when you wear braids, you aren’t able to cleanse your hair the way it needs to be cleaned. That’s why you can’t just use any kind of shampoo when you finally have the chance to do so. You need to use one that’s clarifying and free of harmful ingredients like sulfates. After protective styling, you will usually see significant hair growth and you want to capitalize on that by using the right products to get the job done.

Deep Conditioning

Your hair is going to need some deep conditioning. After you shampoo, it’s time to condition it with a good product meant to give your hair the nutrients, balance, and moisture it needs after going long periods of time without it. I suggest during this time that you apply your product, wrap your hair and sit under a dryer to make sure your hair shaft is penetrated properly. Staying under the dryer for at least 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes will give your hair the good deep conditioning treatment it needs to stay strong and look great.

There is an important process after you take down your protective style; a process that you no doubt want to do. Giving it the time it needs is paramount to maintaining the progress you’ve made thanks to the protective style.