I Tried Cantu's Protective Styles Line & It Worked Wonders For My Dandruff

From over-accessorized pigtails to waist-length Senegalese twists, I’ve been wearing protective hairstyles for as long as I remember. No one could catch me with my afro-hair out in the open. Mainly because I liked not having to style it every day. But there was just one problem: my scalp would get as dry as the Sahara desert in a matter of days. Like clockwork, I'd notice the dandruff. Even after my attempts to moisturize my scalp with oils and serums.

From clarifying shampoos and witch hazel to anti-itch oils, I tested several formulas to keep the buildup at bay, but the results were always short-lived. So, when I heard about Cantu's Protective Styles Line, which includes products that relieve scalp irritation, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out.

The collection launched in collaboration with Emmy-winning hairstylist Angela Stevens in March and includes six products that are designed to encourage healthy hair growth, soothe the scalp and give longevity to protective hairstyles, such as wigs, locs and braids. I decided to test three products from the collection while wearing box braids: the Hair Bath & Cleanser, the Daily Oil Drop Hair Treatment and the Conditioning Detangler. In short, these products did not disappoint.

hair dandruff
Nakeisha Campbell

I used them religiously for six weeks and, as you can see in the photo above, they really helped me maintain my braids and take care of my scalp. It's safe to say that Cantu has a new fan.

cantu cleanser

1. Cantu Hair Bath & Cleanser

  • Value: 20/20
  • Functionality: 17/20
  • Ease of Use: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Curl factor: 20/20
  • TOTAL: 97/100

One week after getting my box braids done, I used this cleanser—which has tea tree oil, aloe vera and apple cider vinegar—to remove buildup from my scalp. I applied a liberal amount of the product and though it didn't produce much lather, it did a great job of removing any flakes. I also love that it didn't leave my braids feeling dried out and frizzy, and it has a clean lavender scent.

Five days after my first use, the dandruff returned—but I noticed there weren't as many flakes, which was a good sign. I continued to use the hair bath whenever I noticed any flaky dandruff. And as I continued using it, the amount of buildup lessened in the following days.

While the cleanser did its job of helping me manage my dandruff issues without stripping my scalp, I wouldn't replace my regular shampoo with it. When I need a more thorough cleanse, I'll still turn to my clarifying and anti-dandruff shampoos, but Cantu's Hair Bath will be my new go-to product whenever my hair is in a protective style.

cantu oil

2. Cantu Daily Oil Drops

  • Value: 20/20
  • Functionality: 20/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Curl factor: 20/20
  • TOTAL: 99/100

This is what I like to call a miracle in a bottle. With active ingredients like peppermint oil, avocado oil and vitamin E, it's formulated to reduce itchiness and flaking while promoting healthy hair growth—and boy, did it deliver.

After using these drops every other day for six weeks, I couldn't believe how much my hair grew. I purposefully chose not to use the oil every single day because I didn't want to exacerbate my buildup issue. After the first week, I could already see that there was a bit of new growth—something I typically start to notice around the two-week mark. And right before I took my extensions out, I noticed that there was at least half an inch of new growth.

The oil is lightweight and it absorbs very easily, keeping the scalp moisturized without leaving an oily residue. Plus, the applicator bottle made it super easy to use.

cantu detangler

3. Cantu Conditioning Detangler

  • Value: 20/20
  • Functionality: 19/20
  • Ease of Use: 17/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Curl factor: 20/20
  • TOTAL: 96/100

When I take my braids out, I typically use a conditioner (often diluted with water) to minimize knots and breakage. My go-to brands (SheaMoisture and 4C Only) have been pretty effective, but I was curious to see how Cantu's 2-in-1 conditioner would hold up.

Made with aloe vera and antioxidant-rich marula oil, which hydrates hair and fights frizz, the product is designed to prevent breakage during the take-down process, which it definitely helped with. After completely removing each braid, I saturated my hair with the conditioner and gently detangled with my fingers before using a detangling brush to finish. It added just the right amount of slip to make my hair easy to detangle—and thankfully kept the amount of shedding minimal.

Now that I've got these incredible protective-style products (with three more bottles of the daily oil drops on the way), I can rest assured that my box braids will never become a frizzy, dandruff-laden mess again.

nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...