From Goddess Braids to Knotless Braids—These 15 Products Are My Best-Kept Secret

POV: You've had your protective style in for the past couple of weeks, and it's starting to hit that point. Your natural hair has grown out from the bases of the braids, the scalp is dry and itchy, and then there's the frizz that won't go away no matter how much gel you use. You want to make the investment of four-plus hours in a chair and the cost of the service worth it, but the style just isn't holding up the way you'd like. News flash: You're making saving our style a lot harder than it has to be. You can take steps every day to maintain your protective styles using the best products. If you want to restore your hair to the way it looked at the end of that braid appointment, identifying the right mousses, oils, custards, and styling gels can be a game changer. Wearing your braids with pride doesn't have to be a challenge, nor does protecting and maintaining them.

Keep reading to find out which ones I gravitate toward as a beauty editor, veteran knotless-braid wearer (I've worn braids off and on since elementary school), and lover of products that give my protective styles the boost they need to stay looking and feeling fresh.

Helpful Tools

I made the change to silk pillow cases years ago and have no plans to ever switch back to cotton. Silk fibers help reduce friction and lock in the moisture of your skin and hair for healthy, hydrated skin. I've noticed a huge change in the appearance of both my skin and hair. (My protective styles last even longer when paired with a silk bonnet at night.)

One of the keys to maintaining protective styles is being gentle with your hair. Whether you're tying your hair down for a restorative night of sleep or just rocking a high pony, using silk scrunchies rather than hair elastics can help preserve your style. Not only will using silk scrunchies help prevent breakage when your hair is pulled back, but they're also ridiculously trendy right now.

Struggling to keep your braids dry in the shower? Get ride of your basic, run-of-the-mill plastic shower cap from your last hotel stay and replace it ASAP with this extra-roomy and stylish one by Kitsch. It blocks out all moisture and humidity, keeping your hair from frizzing. Sitting in the chair for over four hours to get braids is no small feat; make it worthwhile.

Investing in a great hair bonnet is one of the best ways to keep your braids looking fresh and frizz-free. Because I love to wear my braids long (mid-back length), I tie down my braids with a satin scrunchie and then tuck them into the bonnet. This one, by Yannibest, is adjustable so it can be adjusted to your comfort level and won't slide off your locks at night. Not a fan of bonnets? Slip on your favorite silk scarf.

This luxurious microfiber towel helps absorb excess water without causing any unneeded frizz. Even when your hair is in protective styles, your natural hair curl pattern can be disturbed when there's too much friction. When my braids are taking a while to dry, I love throwing them up in this towel to help speed up the process that normally takes a good seven hours. (Dealing with heavy, wet braids is no joke.)



Hydrating Oils, Shampoos, and Conditioners

Here's one TikTok-viral product that you can count on to help maintain (or rescue) your braids. It's a nutrient-rich, biotin-infused formula that can be used both as part of your everyday haircare routine and for deep treatments. Apply a little of this through your parts to keep your scalp hydrated and your hair shiny and healthy.

If you're looking for a pure oil alternative, give Shea Moisture's 100% Pure Argan Oil a try. Argan oil is chock-full of fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins and quickly absorbs into and softens dry hair and skin. Pump this once into your hands and smooth throughout your hair to encourage healthy strands and keep them looking shiny.

This aptly named hair oil does exactly what it promises, hydrating and smoothing your hair with nourishing ingredients like moringa seed oil, argan oil, and bamboo extract. Its formula will help strengthen your hair follicles, retain moisture, and minimize flyaways and frizz. 

This cleanser deep-cleans and nourishes the hair with ginger, aniseed, cassia, and castor oil. Pro tip: Ginger has antiseptic properties that promote hair growth, so adding ginger-infused products to your hair routine is a great way to incorporate the powerful ingredient.

I've always paired Camille Rose's Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse with its Moroccan Pear Conditioning Custard for my braids. Its formula is made with Moroccan pear, cherry kernel extracts, fast-absorbing jojoba oil, and coconut oils for vitamins and extra moisture. Believe me; you'll be left with super-shiny hair that smells as sweet as it looks.

Styling Products

I love refreshing my braids daily with this moisturizing spray by Camille Rose. A quick spray of this from my roots to the tips of my braids is all it takes. The refresher uses honey and netteroot to nourish the scalp, stimulate growth, and add shine. It's also phthalate- and paraben-free. I'm also absolutely obsessed with how it leaves my hair smelling amazing!

If you're not new to the protective-style life, then you know how uncomfortable a scalp can get when it doesn't get enough TLC. This scalp serum by Sunday II Sunday provides itch relief with a soothing blend of peppermint oil and Alternis Botanical Complex to minimize irritation and stimulate hair growth.

This really is the be-all and end-all Shea Moisture products for frizz control. One quick pump of this in the palm of the hand smoothed over your hair takes care of pesky flyaways and frizz so that your braids will look good as new. In a time crunch, I'll apply this mousse on my braids and then tie them down with a silk scarf while I finish my skincare and makeup routines.

I will always love my type 4c hair (even when my edges think it's cute to do their own thing). When I need help reeling them in, Edge Booster's styling gel does the trick. It doesn't leave my hair with a sticky residue and dries clear so that my protective styles look as sleek as they did when they were first done.

Speaking of edges, this is the tool I can 100% rely on to give me my swoops and swirls whenever I want. It's a three-in-one edge tool made from super-strong vegan bristles that help guide my hair into place without causing any tension or breakage.