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Braids have been an endlessly fashionable and sensible hairstyle, for many African American women over the past century. It's a versatile way to give relaxed hair a break, a way to transition, or just a fuss-free look. This article is referring to braid extensions, so for those searching for info about caring for cornrows, or plaited hair, this is article doesn't cater to you.
Some common misconceptions about braids are that you don't have to wash your hair as much, it's not really neccesary to moisturize, that they are just wear and go. For many people living by these rules, braids can be disatrous. How many still experience breakage, split-ends, shedding, dandruff, and hair literally detaching itself from the scalp? The good thing is all of these problems are preventable! Below is a list of proper care of braids, from beginning to start.
Instructions.Things You'll Need:
You need to start with clean, healthy hair. I recommend high-protein deep conditioning always before braids. Whether your hair is natural or relaxed you hair will benefit from the extra TLC. If neccesary trim your ends, braids do not mend split ends! You don't want to wash your hair the day of braiding, it's very hard to grip that way. Allow three days to a week, without applying much product and definitely no grease, pomades or gel!
Choose the right hairdresser. I can not stretch this enough, some people braid entirely too tight! Too tight braids will literally lift the hair from is follicle. Many women later find that their hair has fallen out on the edges after removing braids. Not to mention the migraines, and not being able to sleep. You should be able to lift your eyebrows and feel the your scalp moving without pain. You should also be able to laugh without pain. Please be careful about who you entrust your hair (and scalp) to.
Shampoo.Usually after the second week, your head is well accustomed to the braids. We all know that you can rinse braids easily, but rinse does not imply that the scalp is clean. One easy way to clean the scalp without wearing out the do, is apple cider vinegar. You can either mix it with water and spray it on the scalp, or blot it on with cotton pads or a wash cloth. Apple cider is known to cleanse and nurture the scalp. If you don't dilute it enough, the smell may hang around. If you had you hair braided to protect the scalp from further damage, I recommend using witch hazel instead of the vinegar. It will heal sores in the scalp, without as much burn. Of course, you can also shampoo bi-weekly as you would your natural hair, but beware if you have long braids, it is a hassle! Washing the hair improves the appearance of braids drastically. Most of us have kinky hair, and once our new growth sets in our braids and relaxers can look shabby in a short amount of time. Natural hair thrives on water, so the wash is neccesary to maintain the hair you have, and what's growing in.
Condition,condition,condition. You hair is used to growing freely, and that can cause alot stress. Conditioning strengthens the hair and maintains a smooth beautiful look. I also recommend a leave in conditioner for daily use. You will definitely notice the difference when you take our the braids. My preference is the Olive Oil Replenishing Pack (sold everywhere).
Moisturize! Stay away from greases and vaseline type products, they are heavy and all they do is sit on the scalp, clogging the pores and creating lint within the braids. Keep it light and simple. I either massage oil lotion into my scalp every other day, or spray on a mixture of oil and water. I must recommend using tea tree oil or peppermint oil if you have a itchy scalp. If you don't want to deal with mixing and spray bottles, pop into a local beauty store and pick up a braid spray. When using commercial braid sprays, do not drench the hair. It doesn't smell great and also creates a kinda film on the scalp as well as greases do. Try to kind something oil based, my preference is Kemi-Oyl conditioning spray (bought at the chinese hair store).
Know when to take them out! Leaving your braids in too long will cause the hair to lock! When you see a significant amount of new growth and slight lint that does not come out after washing, is time to take them out soon.The longer you wait the more it locks.