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The struggle is so real. 

Nikki Brown
Jan, 05, 2017

The "New Year, New You" transformation simply isn't complete without a new hairstyle.

Beyond our more vain aspirations, a physical change can be what jumpstarts a work-related or emotional shift. Protective styling spikes in popularity during the winter season, and for good reason.

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Winter carries a lot of beauty baggage, and the last thing we want to worry about is nursing our locks back to health by spring. However, that doesn't mean all challenges are erased.

For those who swear by braided styles, a sore scalp is almost guaranteed. No matter your coping style, DIY or otherwise, there are a couple of ways to alleviate pain. 

1. Have open communication with your stylist. 

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Don't be paralyzed by shyness during your salon appointment. Before the first braid is weaved, it's imperative that your styling deal breakers are made known. If you are tender headed or concerned about the braids causing breakage, be open to your stylist's suggestions and recommendations. And if it feels painful, say something before your entire head is done. 

2. Take A DIY risk. 

Now, if you're past the point of no return and it feels like your scalp is on fire, there are a couple of DIY methods that may do the trick. Besides drinking water to hydrate from the inside out, you can also cover your head in a wet towel for several minutes to trap moisture. Alternatively, working the eraser end of a pencil under tightly bound cornrows can loosen them up without compromising a fresh sewn-in. 

3. Apply heat. 

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An itchy or painful scalp is usually a sign of dehydration. If you need instant relief, but don't want to destroy your New Year style, an at home steamer is the equivalent of a spa massage...but for your head. If you really want to up the ante, prep your scalp by coating it with a deep conditioner for added hydration. 

4. Remember you daily oil scalp massages. 

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Consider this a friendly reminder. Massaging your head promotes increased blood circulation, which in turn, promotes faster hydration of products and pain relief. Incorporating peppermint oil into this practice will cure itchiness almost immediately and reenergize the hair follicles. 

5. Invest in braid sprays. 

When all else fails, or if you're a self-professed product junkie, the Black hair care industry is laden with innovative sprays, made specifically for scalp relief under protective styling. Keep a bottle at your desk or in a purse for those "I just can't take it anymore" moments. Here are three of our current favorites: 

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In case you didn't know, Lupita Nyong'o's go-to hair guru has a line of luxury products for textured hair. We can't get enough of this spritz that smells and feels absolutely divine. 

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We keep a bottle of this all natural tonic at our desk for not only pain relief, but added shine when our hair starts to look lackluster. 

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And this cult favorite is infused with African black soap and perfect for reducing flakes without oily residue.