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I Just Found Out What Happens If You Leave Your Box Braids In Too Long And WHAT THE HELL?!

You'll never make this mistake again after reading this.

This is Jennifer Cherilus. She's an award-winning NJ-based hairstylist who specializes in all things natural hair care.

She can do lots of styles, but it's her gorgeous protective styles that keep clients (like me!) coming back for more.

Jennifer and I recently had a nice long chat about some of the common misconceptions around protective styles. And she revealed a major no-no that clients commit all the time: Leaving their styles in for waaaaay too long.

"Protective styles should only be worn for a maximum of eight weeks" she told BuzzFeed. "This applies to box braids, crochet braids, cornrows, and any other style where the hair is sewn down or kept in a locked position on your scalp. Yes, I get that this style cost $100 or $200, or how ever much it was, but you absolutely need to cleanse your scalp and let it breathe."

According to Jennifer, your scalp is an extension of the other skin on your body, just like your face, for example. "And how do you think your face would feel if you covered it up for a week?" she asked. "All of those natural oils and dead skin cells that your skin produces would have nowhere else to go. Well, it’s the same for your scalp."

But that's not all! So we shower, sweat, and whatnot while we're rocking our protective styles, because life, right? Well that brings water and moisture into the equation, and that's when shit gets REAL ya'll.

"All those oils, skin cells, and shed hair are just kind of brewing in this restricted area that's dark and damp, which is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and thrive," Jennifer told us. "It’s basically a breeding ground."

Jennifer understands that there's not a ton of professional education on natural hair care yet, so she's not trying to shame anyone who's gone over eight weeks. She said she just wants people to look at the bigger picture and take their hair care seriously.