Caring For Your Hair While In Braids.


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Five or so years ago, I went to get some braids installed and opted for a deep condition first .The hairdresser  mixed the deep conditioner she was going to use with some Shea butter and put me under a steamer for a deeper penetration of the conditioner. I probably  had the style in for about six - eight weeks and I remember the day I took it out at the salon, I noticed (and my hair dresser also remarked) that my hair seemed to have grown about an inch and a half.

I'm a lover of braids so I figured I'd  get another deep condition with Shea butter (hey! it was the magic ingredient), go get 'million braids' leave them in for longer and witness another 'miracle' when I took them out. The day I took them out, I immediately went to get a relaxer - so I could see the 'true' length of my hair.

I will never forget how when the hair was being combed with the relaxer in, it seemed as if surely, someone had hidden a blade in the teeth of the comb! The amount of hair that came out!!! I still see clearly in my mind's eye, how they put all the hair mixed with relaxer on the instruction sheet of the Relaxer kit as if to say 'well if you can't see it on your scalp, have a look at what could've been)

Of course by the time I washed and styled, my hair was shorter than when I got the first set of braids that got me so excited!

Needless to say I thought the magic could be recaptured if only I remembered the exact deep conditioner that my hairdresser used that first time - I thought maybe the Shea butter worked better with that one.... and so began this search for THE conditioner that surely was the one that would make me grow rapunzel like lengths.



Years later after I began my hair journey and had been reading up on a lot of stuff; I remembered that the first time around, I had bought a braid sheen and had sprayed my hair religiously the entire time I had the braids in. Coupled with the fact that I had prepped my hair properly before, my hair retained all the length it had gained while it was in braids.

The second time around, I would let my hair go for weeks without any hydration (besides the braids were too tiny and this meant my hair got caked with dirt in tiny little sections and broke off while I tried to take down the braids)

Too often when I ask a few people what they do to their hair while in braids, they give me this questioning look and say 'nothing' or ' I just spray with Oil Sheen' - and the one thing they all have in common is their complaint of dry, brittle hair that's breaking off when they take out their braids.

Hair needs to be cared for even when in a protective style. Sometimes these styles are carried for 2 - 3 months and in ALL THAT TIME not a single drop of water will come near the hair! At best some might spray an oil sheen to give it a shine - but oil sheen is liquid synthetic oil that will just coat the hair and attract more dirt.

PRE INSTALLATION
Before getting braids or any protective style (particularly if you will be adding synthetic hair) it is important to prep the hair by getting a good deep conditioning treatment first, then moisturizing and sealing the hair properly after drying. This will fortify the hair and enhance elasticity so the hair does not break while it is being combed and manipulated during styling.

INSTALLATION
As a rule of thumb, your braids should be no thinner than the width of a pencil - anything thinner and this will increase the chances of breakage. Ensure whoever is installing your braids is careful not to make it too tight - particularly in the nape and temple areas which are very fragile.





POST INSTALLATION
Moisturize your hair DAILY - use a light water based moisturizer and spritz the length of the braids - paying attention to where your hair is in the braid. There are so many braid sheen conditioning sprays in the market that there are no excuses not to have one (but as with most things, they typically contain a lot of silicones etc so you can mix a light water and oil mix in your spritz bottle if you'd rather skip coating ingredients)

 Once a week or every fortnight, cleanse your scalp - this can be done by either shampooing (dilute some shampoo in water, apply to scalp, massage scalp  and rinse allowing the water to run down the length of the braids while you gently squeeze the braids) or using a dry shampoo which is applied to the scalp and then using either cotton wool or a damp towel to clean your scalp and your braids.
I love this Moisture Clenz by Taliah Waajid

Personally I don't like to deep condition my braids using creamy products as this can cause build up that just cakes inside the braids - and that is absolutely no fun when it comes to taking them out. Trust me. ( I'd rather pre poo with an oil before cleansing) but this is an option a number of people use successfully.

Remember to spritz your hair with your moisturizing spritz after cleansing to infuse moisture back into your hair. Apply a nourishing oil to your edges (like Jamaican Black Castor Oil) as this will help any thinning or breakage issues. As with your own hair, always cover your braids with a satin cap at night before going to bed

TAKE DOWN
The way this is done makes the difference between retaining length and losing all that was gained in the first place! When taking down braids, do it GENTLY (treating your ends like spun sugar),  making sure to detangle hair as you go along. The worst thing you can do is take out all your braids and attempt to detangle everything at the end (particularly if you're natural)

Detangle each section first with your fingers as you take out the braid then when you have a nice chunk of detangled hair, twist/braid it so it's out of the way. When everything has been taken out, saturate your hair with some oil and/or conditioner to give your hair some 'slip' while you then use a wide toothed comb to remove any final remaining snags.

POST TAKE DOWN
Wash your hair thoroughly and then get another deep conditioning treatment. This is a good time to get a protein treatment too as synthetic hair tends to weaken our strands; so fortifying the Keratin our hair is made up of with a protein treatment will further ensure your hair is not prone to breakage.

Then of course ensure your hair breathes for at least two or so weeks before putting it back into braids/a weave etc. Back to back braids/weaves is invitation for thin, weak hair.

And that's it! Keeping your scalp clean and your hair moisturized will ensure your protective styling efforts were not in vain.

Till my next post

xoxoxo


3 comments

  1. Thank you for this. I wish I had read this before my last braids. Remember I had to call you on how to detangle my hair after taking the braids off? I went through hell! Lol!

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    Replies
    1. Your're welcome! I so remember! pele loll!

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  2. nice blog
    great information.
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