Natural Hair: Safely Removing Protective Styles

While protective styling gives your hair a major break from manipulation, it can also be a tedious task to  install and uninstall.  You sit there for hours on end to have your hair styled in intricate braids, twist/braid updos and twists only to not look forward to the takedown.

I’ve heard of people having “braid takedown parties” or soliciting friends to work on their hair to make the style “just go away”!  I’ve even encountered individuals that have taken scissors to head to get their protective style out so they can have their hair free (I suppose that would defeat the purpose of protective styling should you happen to cut your own hair in the process).

Nevertheless, styles such as twists or braids (with or without hair added) and updos can be taken out in a less drastic way, all the while preserving length and health of hair.

Follow SFLE on Twitter . Like SFLE on Facebook . Follow SFLE on Tumblr

Mentally prepare yourself.  It’s going to be a long process, so instead of complaining and resisting, embrace it.  Utlize this time to catch up on YouTube videos, watch one of your favorite movies, listen to your new CD in it’s entirety or even chat it up with your bestie/family.  Frustration only leads to recklessness when handling your strands.  Be happy.  Plan for this feat.

Work with one “piece” at a time.  You cannot take all of your hair out of the style in one stroke of your finger tips without creating some type of tangles, I don’t care what you have heard.  Work with one braid/twist at a time.  This ensures that you don’t forget any twist or braid and have a tangled mess when trying to wash.  I like to work in sections.  When I had braids or twists with extensions, I would remove the hair in the middle first.  That way, if I didn’t finish taking all of them out, I could still put my hair in a ponytail and the loose hair would be undiscoverable.  However, when I am removing my mini twists or any style that is with my hair only, I start from the back and work my way up.  I typically remove the style in one sitting.

Unless you want locs, take them out before they loc up.  I kept my braids in for so long one time, they started to twist up on themselves!  NO BUENO!  Know how long you can keep a style.  If you are planning to keep a style for a while, you may need to get the style touched up during the duration.

Use your fingers, not a comb.  In this instance, finger detangling and unraveling is a much better choice than using your comb or brush.  You will have a lot of shed hairs, so it likely that they may tangle around your coily strands and try to, you know, cause single stand knots or just get into a tangled hot mess.  Using your fingers will allow for you to feel the tangle potential before it happens and work it out without having to work out a comb in your tangled strands, ya dig?

DETANGLE YOUR HAIR BEFORE YOU SHAMPOO!  Your hair is full of dirt, trapped shed hairs and product build up.  Do yourself a favor and detangle as much as you can before you shampoo your scalp.  The shampooing motion may cause your already tangled & dirty strands (gunk) to stick together (glue like substance) and form a tangle that resembles that of a brick… or rock… or something hard.  I know, I know… it sounds so extreme.  BELIEVE ME WHEN I TELL YOU I have witnessed it first hand.  Unless you want to shed some tears over an impromptu cut, detangle your hair prior to shampooing.  The best advice I could give you is to use some type of oil (olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, etc.) and/or conditioner with a lot so slip and work it through your hair in sections prior to any heavy manipulation (that includes combing)!

What are some of your tips and tricks when taking down protective styles?
  • Shannon Scates

    Good tips…since I mentioned in a previous post I always wear mini-twists I’ll add one of my techniques here lol. Me any my hair’s relationship improves when it’s wet, so I spray all of my twists with water and then add oil or a detangler and put a showercap on my head and let it sit like that for a little while or I just go right into taking them out but I keep the shower cap on my head and just pull sections of hair from under the shower cap. This makes my hair soft and easier to untwist and detangle. After untwisting a good sized section, I twist it into a bigger twist to keep it stretched and detangled…using my fingers as you stated. Ok…I’m done rapping you up today lol.