From the start of my natural hair journey, my favourite protective style has always been box braids. Especially in the summer when I’m on my holiday break, box braids are definitely my go-to style. They’re a great way to protect your strands, help with growth and of course gives you more time in the morning/evening. Come on, who wants to waste time detangling, twisting and styling when they’ve got a holiday to enjoy. Not me that’s who.
Braiding has many benefits but lets not forget about the downsides to this protective style. Braids can cause damage, breakage and in some cases alopecia. To avoid making the common mistakes, so many women make when wearing braids. I’ve listed some helpful tips on getting the most out of you style.
Before you consider installing braids/twist extensions, please ensure that your hair and scalp are healthy enough to handle the extra weight and tension from the braids.
In preparation I would suggest doing a protein treatment followed by a moisturising deep condition, at least twice before installing your braids/twists.
It’s also important to solve any scalp issues such as dryness, dandruff, itchy scalp, any fungal infections etc. These may weaken your hair and lead to damage and breakage.
Mo's Deep condition routine:
Apply your deep conditioner evenly throughout wet hair after shampooing, place hair under a plastic cap/plastic bag and apply moderate heat for 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. For an added super boost of moisture, shine and softness, try adding a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of natural oil (e.g. extra virgin olive oil, jojoba, coconut, argan etc) to your deep conditioning treatment before you apply it to your hair.
Please don’t forget that the hair underneath your braids still needs love and attention. The same way that you moisturise your hair when they’re out, you need to ensure that your hair is moisturised whilst in your braids. To keep your hair from getting too dry, use a liquid moisturiser or braid spray twice a day.
Mo’s moisturiser of choice:
I tend to use my homemade moisturiser spritz, as it’s a great way of penetrating the braids and getting to my actual hair. It also helps to prevent build up on my braids, especially at the root.
Washing your braid/twist extensions is a must. It’s important to the health of your hair and scalp to remove product build-up, residue and sweat. There are so many different ways to wash your braids but I’ve found the following regime to be the most successful for me…
- Section braids into four sections
- Find a plastic container/jar, add your favourite shampoo then some water until it’s watery enough for easy application.
- Within each section, apply the diluted shampoo to you scalp and rub gently to lift the dirt from your scalp. Make sure you use your finger tips and NOT your nails.
- Pour the remaining diluted shampoo over your head and squeeze your braids to ensure that the shampoo penetrates and cleans your hair inside.
- Once done run your head under the water until it rinses clean.
- Apply your leave-in conditioner of choice. Alternatively if you feel your hair needs extra moisture you could use your conditioner/deep conditioner. Use the same method as the shampoo and mix your conditioner with water in a plastic container/jar. Rinse thoroughly as conditioners/deep conditioners tend to be thick and could cause build-up.
- Whilst your braids are still banded, use your towel to remove the excess water. Once they’re about 50% dry, remove your bands and then gently finger detangle if you have loose/feathered ends.
Mo’s leave-in conditioner of choice:
When taking down your braids the key if to ensure that you hold on to as much of your new growth as possible. I find the easiest way of getting the hair out of the braids to make sure that the hair is as slippery and moist as possible. Try the following method for making your take down as stress free as possible…
- About 15 minute’s prior to take down, spritz your braids (focusing mainly on the first few inches) with a water, conditioner (you probably won’t want to waste your favourite conditioner for this) and oil(s).
- Once you have cut your braids, remove the remaining braids by using your fingers to minimise breakage.
- To remove the block of dirt, spray your conditioner mix on that top area where the braid first meets your hair, to loosen up the dirt.
- Take your time and slowly pull the hair apart, little by little to remove the dirt from the hair.
- Once the dirt is out, detangle that section of the hair right away to avoid tangles.
- Then follow up with a shampoo and apple cider vinegar rinse (this is optional) to ensure that your hair and scalp are thoroughly cleansed.
- Oh and of course a deep condition is a must.
How do you prepare and maintain your braid/twist extensions?