Protective hairstyles are a great way to give your natural hair (and your arms) a much-needed break from weekly tugging and twisting — but they aren’t completely maintenance-free. Some issues can arise: Itchy scalp. Headaches caused by painfully tight braids. Excessive flakes. While you’re wearing twists, weaves, bantu knots, or any other style that gives your curls a time-out, scalp and root care is crucial.
Nothing’s worse than desperately attempting to pat away scalp itchiness or fervently scratching between wefts. “Some protective styles can make it difficult to reach your scalp and maintain moisture,” Lacy Redway, Unilever Global Stylist & Celebrity Hair Artist, tells Bustle via email. “The areas that are closed off and not receiving enough moisture and oxygen can become drier and cause itchiness.”
Excess tension can also be the culprit behind an irritated, painful, or itchy scalp. Kellon Deryck, hairstylist to stars like Megan Thee Stallion and Missy Elliot and Creme of Nature brand ambassador, tells Bustle that scalp irritation tends to come from your protective styles being too tight or improperly installed. An allergic reaction to synthetic hair may cause irritation as well, adds celebrity hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood.
In short, neglecting your scalp while you’re wearing a protective style can have some major consequences. Read on for five ways to relieve scalp pain, fight off flakes, and more.