As the season changes, many people change their hairdo to one that requires low manipulation. Hair braids are a popular choice for a no fuss style and are fairly easy to maintain. While hair braids are an excellent choice for giving your hair a chance to rest from daily combing, brushing and styling, you may still wind up with hair loss and damage after removing your braids if they are not properly cared for. Here are a list of five must-dos to keep your hair healthy and in the best shape while wearing braids:
1.Keep the Cleanse
One of the biggest mistakes braid-wearers make is believing that braided hair must not be cleansed. Washing your braids are essential as it eliminates any buildup on your hair below and on the braids themselves. Your braid cleanse should mimic your regular wash timeframe. It doesn’t have to be every single week if you normally do not have a lot of oil buildup on your hair and scalp. However, it should be done regularly enough to keep your scalp and strands clean and healthy below. Washing braids can be cumbersome especially since they hold a lot of water. The easiest way to wash them is by doing so in sections. Start by pouring some shampoo in a spray bottle and mixing with just enough water to dilute the shampoo. Use a shampoo with good scalp cleansing ingredients such as Ettenio Clean Start Shampoo. Swirl around the water-shampoo mixture in the bottle for uniform consistency. Using a liquid shampoo like Asherlee Naturals Black Soap Shampoo eliminates the need to mix with water entirely since it comes in a liquid versus creamy form like regular shampoos. Black Soap is an excellent choice for removing buildup and keeping your scalp healthy.
Next, section your braids into four or six parts (enough braids should be able to fit into one hand comfortably) and spray your hair from root to end with the shampoo mixture, lathering into your hair. Repeat this for each section making sure that you use a clip to secure each section after you have finished spraying and scrubbing. Once all your hair has been shampooed, rinse section by section and towel dry to remove excess water.
You may find it necessary to do a complete wash a day or two after getting your braids installed to remove any remnants of the braiding hair that may cause irritation. Kanekalon hair, for example, tends to cause irritation for some due to materials used in the manufacturing process. Washing a few days after also helps to eliminate any stray braiding hair.
2.Make Moves with Moisture
Another misconception is that braided hair does not need to be moisturized regularly. That is far from the truth as your hair is actually more susceptible to dryness and breakage than ever when braided. The added hair can pull moisture from your own hair and so you need an appropriate amount of moisturization to keep your natural hair below in tip-top shape. This will also help reduce shedding and breakage when you finally remove the braids. Opt for a liquid moisturizer like the Ettenio Moisture Milk that has added oils for maximum moisture without adding excessive buildup to the hair. A light milky formula does not weigh the hair down. Look in the ingredient list for oils like broccoli seed oil that penetrates the hair shaft to keep your hair moisturized rather than just sitting on top of the hair. Pure coconut oil such as Parachute Coconut oil is also a great way to keep your hair moisturized and soft below the added extensions.
3. Seal the deal and add some sheen!
As with your regular moisturizing routine, you should include a sealant in your braid maintenance and care. To learn more about sealants read our article entitled “What is a Sealant Anyway”. Some of the best oils for providing moisture sealing and sheen are argan oil and olive oil. These oils keep the hair protected while adding a healthy shine. You can use one or a combination of these oils like the Pure Essence Hair Oil or the Ettenio Seal and Shine Serum.
4. Be kind to your scalp
Another important aspect of braid maintenance is caring for your scalp. Keep the scalp clean and free of impurities and buildup by washing on a regular basis. If you do not want to do a full shampoo cleanse, you can clean your scalp by using a product like Witch Hazel or Talia Waajid Moisture Clenz. If you have an itchy scalp immediately after braiding it could signal an allergic reaction to the braiding hair. Mix two parts apple cider vinegar with one part water and spray from roots to end thoroughly. Cover your hair with a processing cap for five minutes then rinse with warm water. Follow with shampooing the hair. Once your scalp is clean, use an oil like tea tree oil to prevent itching and to stimulate the scalp. Other oils like eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil help to keep the scalp clear of bacteria and fungus and also promotes blood flow to the scalp. Ettenio Scalp Restore Serum contains a mixture of all these oils making it a perfect addition to your braid care regimen. To learn more about scalp care check out our article on achieving and maintaining a healthy scalp.
5.Know when it's time to let go
Finally, do not keep your braids in too long as this can lead to another type of problem, hair matting. Your hair will likely experience a lot of growth during the time period that you are wearing braided extensions. If kept in for too long your natural hair may become matted over time since you are not able to fully detangle and condition the new growth. Also, as the hair continues to grow, the weight of the braid may pull at your roots causing more breakage and hair loss. It is not uncommon to see people lose entire locks of hair because of leaving braids in for an extended period of time. Also ensure that your braider does not braid your hair too tightly in the beginning. As with overworn braids, tight braids pull and tug at your hair and can lead to hair breakage and loss as well as cause scalp conditions to develop. It is tempting to have your hair braided as tight as possible to keep them in for a much longer time but the hair damage that can occur is not worth trying to extend the hairstyle.
Braiding is an awesome way to style your hair. They are convenient if you have a busy lifestyle and are a great hairdo to have when trying to retain length. However, the benefits of having braids may not be experienced if proper hair care is not practiced. By doing these five basic things you not only get the best wear out of your hairdo but you will see a full healthy, head of hair when you remove the extensions.