Braids are the best way to conduct your hair when you are in a hurry or have a busy lifestyle but want to give a stylish look to your hair.
It is a great way to keep your hair clean and healthy, along with protecting it from environmental stressors like UV radiation, pollution, air, dust, etc.
But just because you have braids in your hair does not mean that you have given the utmost protection and nourishment to it.
Although it is a small part of good hair care, some portion of your hair is exposed to external harmful factors, and it must be protected.
Nourishment and hair care play an important role in making your braids look healthy and shiny. Also, if you want to keep them for some time, they require maintenance so that the long-term styling does not impact your hair.
In this blog, we will talk more about how to take care of your natural hair when you have braids on. Ensure good care of braids in your hair with a 4-stage care procedure.
Stage 1: Pre-Braiding Care
1. Cleaning Your Hair
Braids hold your hair tight, so if there are any particles of dust, dirt, sweat, etc., accumulated in your hair, you must wash them before braiding. If not, the braids will hold on to these particles for a long time, which will impact the health of your hair. It is also likely to impact the effectiveness of braiding and contradict the purpose.
Hence, you must wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo to make it clean and create a clear canvas for your braids.
2. Conditioning Your Hair
After the cleaning process, your hair must go through the process of deep conditioning. It helps keep your hair moisturized for a long time, along with providing nourishment, elasticity, and strength. It will also help you in repairing any type of damage you have on your hair and will prepare your hair for braiding.
For the most effective deep cleaning, you can use products that are rich in natural oils, vitamins, and proteins. Ensure that the conditioner is from the head to the tip. Rinse the conditioner and see how soft your hair feels.
3. Trimming the Split Ends
Split ends are a major symptom of hair damage. So before braiding, trim the part of the hair with split ends or damage. It ensures that your hair remains healthy and tangle-free during the braiding process. If you skip this step, it can lead to further breakage of your hair and compromise its health.
4. Strengthening Treatments
If your hair is prone to major breakage on combing, washing, styling, heat treatments, or any other activity, it lacks the required strength and elasticity. That is why you must consider some strengthening treatments before braiding your hair. It can include any protein treatment to help reduce the damage and improve your hair structure. This process reduces the risk of breakage during the braiding process.
5. Scalp Health
Your scalp acts as a foundation for your hair. Hence, it is important to keep the scalp healthy to avoid any damage to the hair. For a better scalp, massage it with natural oils like castor oil, baobab oil, etc., for better blood circulation and hair growth.
Avoid applying heavy oils on your hair just before braiding, as it will make your hair heavy. For a healthy scalp, oiling and massaging must be a part of your hair care routine.
Stage 2: How To Take Care of Braids During the Braiding Process
- Seek Professional Help: You can learn how to braid your hair from anyone who is an expert or get an idea of braiding techniques from videos on YouTube. If you are still underconfident about braiding your hair well, it is sensible to seek professional help. They have experience in properly installing the braids irrespective of your hair type. They ensure that the braids are not too tight or too loose and fit comfortably on your head. This reduces the risk of braiding so that it exerts pressure on your roots and causes breakage over time. Choosing a skilled braider is the first step towards healthy and beautiful braids.
- Creating Gentle Tension: Tension on the roots plays an important part in the process of braiding. If the pressure on all parts of the braids is not equal, you may feel uncomfortable and unable to wear it for long. If the braids are too tight, they can cause hair loss, too. To avoid such conditions, you must communicate with the braider to create a bearable amount of tension on your head. Always remember that a little tightness is required to keep the braids in place. But if it is too much, speak about it to the braider.
- Scalp Care During Braiding: The scalp is the foundation of a healthy braid. So, you should not overlook its well-being during the braiding process. Ensure that the braider is not too harsh on your hair during the process of parting or sectioning your hair. Ask them to avoid tools and products that can cause irritation or damage. Good scalp health contributes to the overall health of your hair.
- Braid Size and Weight: If you plan to keep your hair in braids for a long time, the size and weight of your braids can impact the health of your hair. Even if the smaller braids will look and feel light, the thicker ones will have minimal impact on your roots and scalp. The smaller ones exert more pressure on the individual strands, making that part of your hair difficult to withstand. It can also cause breakage of your hair. Here, the larger braids evenly distribute the pressure on your head. So, based on the quality of your hair, choose the braid size that is well-suited for you.
- Hair Extensions: If you want braids to be longer than your hair length, you can use hair extensions. For this, you must use high-quality, natural-looking extensions. If you are using synthetic hair extensions, they are likely to be harsh on your scalp, causing breakage and friction. So, you can go for natural human hair extensions as they blend seamlessly with your hair. Also, be mindful of the weight of your hair extensions so that it does not cause any pressure on your roots.
Stage 3: How To Take Care of Braids?
- Cleaning Hair with Braids: Cleaning your hair and scalp is the most important part of maintaining healthy and lustrous-looking hair. Even if your braids are on, you can clean them. For cleaning, use a sulfate-free shampoo with water and gently apply it on your scalp using a nozzle applicator. Then massage your scalp with your fingers and ensure not to disturb your braids as much as possible. Now rinse the shampoo well by allowing water to flow toward your braids.
- Moisturization of Scalp: Use a light moisturizer that will keep your scalp hydrated for a long time. Use the applicator bottle to target the scalp between braids. Avoid heavy creams and oils as they can cause buildup and may weigh your hair down. To ensure good moisture in your hair, apply a lightweight leave-in conditioner to your braids. Focus on the areas of length and near your scalp. A spray conditioner will ensure the proper distribution of moisture.
- You can seal the moisture by applying some lightweight oil to the braids. It will also help to make your hair look shiny and lustrous.
- Itch Relief: It is possible to experience some itching during the braids, especially when you have not cleaned the scalp for a long time. Although washing is a great way of itch relief, you can also avoid it by using a water-based scalp spray that has soothing contents like tea tree oil and aloe vera. Avoid scratching the scalp, as it may unravel the braids.
How Do You Take Care of Braids While Sleeping?
- Satin Pillowcase: Our hair comes in contact with our pillowcase for the longest time. Hence, a sleep-time hair care routine has a huge impact on your braids. To ensure hair care during sleep, use a satin pillowcase or wrap your hair in a satin scarf before bed. Satin reduces friction, preventing frizz, and maintains the neatness of your braids. If you have long braids, it is difficult to contain them simply on the pillowcase. In such a case, you can gather them at the top of your head and secure them in a high ponytail. You can also keep your hair loose and create a bun.
- Protection from External Factors: When your braids are exposed to harsh weather or direct sunlight, they are likely to collect a lot of dust and dirt from the surroundings, especially if you are traveling in dusty and polluted areas. To avoid accumulating these particles, cover your braids with a scarf or a hat to shield them from potential damage.
- Contact with Water: Keep your braids away from water as it may cause them to get frizzy or even unravel. Use a shower cap while showering, and use a swimming cap while swimming to protect your braids from getting wet.
- Avoid Over Styling: When you put on the braids, you have already styled your hair. Hence, avoid excessive styling of the braids as it may require the usage of chemical products or heating tools that can damage the braid structure and your hair. Still, if you want to style them, try gentler ways.
- Daily Activities: Avoid touching your hair frequently, which can cause breakage and disturb the braid structure. Also, maintain a healthy diet routine to keep your hair healthy from the inside. You must consume a balanced diet of vitamins, minerals, and proteins to support hair growth and overall well-being.
Stage 4: Post Braiding
If you have successfully kept and maintained your braids for a few weeks, congratulations! But braid care does not stop at this point. It is also important how to take them off. This is the time for some extra hair care after a week of styling.
- Detangling Braids: Before beginning the post-braiding routine, detangle your hair gently. First, use your fingers to unravel the braids. Then, use a comb with wide teeth to avoid forcing through the tangles and knots. Start at the ends and work your way up, working through knots gently. Ensure to remove the extensions slowly without taking off your natural hair with it and causing breakage.
- Cleaning your hair: It has been a long time since you have thoroughly washed it. So there must be residues of oil, shampoo, conditioner, dust, etc., sitting on your scalp. Now, you can completely and freely clean your hair with water and shampoo. Use a clarifying shampoo to clean all these particles and restore their natural balance. Ensure using a sulfate-free shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner for maximum effect.
- Damage Monitor: Check the quality of your hair after removing the braids. See if there are any split ends and trim them off. After trimming, moisturize with the leave-on conditioner on the hair. Then, apply some oil to lock in the moisture.
- Styling: Now that your hair has recovered from intensive styling, you can avoid that for some time. Give the chance for your hair to heal. For some days, opt for tension-free, loose hairstyles to help your hair recover from any damage that it may have suffered.
Braids look beautiful and give a fulfilling style to your hair. It is a healthy option for styling if you want to avoid hair breakage and damage. Also, it has its benefits to your hair in the long run.
But taking care of your natural hair while it’s in braids requires dedication and a consistent routine with patience. For best results, ensure to follow the proper pre-braiding preparation, careful installation of braids, good maintenance, and gentle removal for ensuring proper growth of your hair.
Use these guidelines to rock your braids confidently and yet keep them healthy and shiny naturally. Tell us about your braiding experience in the comments below.