It’s wintertime, and that cold air will sucker punch your hair right into the misery of dry crunchiness. All the deep conditioning in the world still won’t allow you to be as carefree as the cool breeze of spring and fall. We’ll skip the talk of summer humidity for now, because it’s December and the seasons have changed. Many will be hopping on the protective styling bandwagon, and we’re right here to ensure whatever style you opt for does what it’s meant to do and protects your hair. We want to see you in April with thick edges and healthy hair. So here are five tips to make sure your protective style is really protecting your hair:

Don’t pick any style that prevents you from moisturizing your hair

This one is especially for the ladies who naturally have a hard time moisturizing their hair or those whose hair needs to be moisturized every couple of days. Some may want to hop on the trend of getting a weave that looks like their naturally kinky tresses, but  if you’re one of those people who will stretch a hairstyle into the three-month range because you spent good money on it, then maybe you should opt for a custom wig.

It’s imperative that you can get to your real hair and probably moisturize it—and that does not mean slathering some oil on your scalp. Think about how you moisturize your hair when you wear it out. Has putting oil on your scalp been sufficient moisture for your twist out? OK. Same principle applies here with the protective style.

Don’t stretch a style past two months

Again, moisture is the most important part of the hair routine. For the ladies who wear braids/twists, if you’re not going to wash, condition and moisturize your strands it, don’t stretch it past six weeks. You don’t want to push the limit of your hair’s moisture by going superlong with a style and not doing a full moisture routine on it.

Yes, though your hair is in this protected style you can go longer without washing (and, therefore, moisturizing) it because it is not as exposed. However, that really only gives you a month to six weeks.

Before styling your hair into protective style, moisturize it with a product you know works

Yeah, girl, we are still talking about moisture. This is not the time to try out new products. You want to properly moisturize your hair, preferably with products that, when you leave your hair out, allow you to go a few days without having to moisturize it again. Use your best product to deep condition before styling to ensure your hair is fully prepped to be wrapped up for the coming weeks.

You can never say it enough: Don’t put too much tension on your edges

Havana twists and jumbo braids are popular because top knot-bun styles are popular, but that is a lot of tension on your edges. So be kind and careful with how tight you braid your hair around the edges–snatched edges aren’t cute on anybody.

Keep your scalp clean

For some of us, protective styling means we get lazy with our hair. But don’t forget how important your scalp is. And while you’re layering moisturizing products and oils on top of your hair, just take the extra effort to wash your hair too—at least once if you keep your style in over a month. You can also use tea tree, peppermint and jojoba oil to keep the scalp balanced. That scalp of yours is very important; it’s where your hair grows out, so cultivate it just as much as the follicle.

Here’s to a happy season of gorgeous protective styles! I think the perfect protective is crochet braid extensions. You can do them with a bobby pin, they take little time, and you can get to your real hair and scalp with no problem!

What protective styles will you be doing this winter and what will you be doing to ensure you’re hair remains healthy?