Many women braid their hair to give it a break from daily combing and harsh chemicals. Whatever your reason, taking care of your braids will keep your hair healthy and also keep your braids looking neat. Before you braid your hair, wash and deep condition it so that it stays strong.
• Hairline: For those with soft hair on the hairline, avoid braiding it. This hair is short and fragile and if they are pulled tightly during braiding, they could permanently damage the follicle. Leave them outside the braid and apply hair gel to keep them looking neat. Braiding tightly along the hairline also results in tiny bumps along the hairline.
• For the first two to three days after you braid your hair, apply coconut or olive oil on the edges to reduce the pressure and ease the tension. To keep your scalp moisturised, prevent it from becoming itchy and flaky while your hair is braided, make an effort to apply some oil at least twice a week. Unrefined Shea butter is also great for moisturising the hair when it is braided.
• Wash it: Just because your hair is braided doesn’t mean you don’t need to clean it. Wash it at least every two weeks.
This is how to clean your braids gently: Rub a little shampoo in your hand to form lather then apply the lather on your scalp only.
Rub the shampoo using your fingers beneath your braids then rinse thoroughly. You can then apply conditioner only on the natural hair before rinsing again. Squeeze any excess water from the braids using a soft towel. Remember; squeeze, don’t rub.
• Spritz: Due to the synthetic nature of hair piece, your scalp may itch as a reaction to the same. Buy a spray that is specifically made for braids. Apart from offering you relief, you can also spray it on your braids to give them a shine.
• Bed time: Always cover your braids with a silk or satin scarf. If you use another texture on your hair, try and have a silky pillowcase. This way, the oils in your hair are protected keeping your hair healthy.
• Duration: I know of people who stay on with their braids for three months. I know braids make life easier and the temptations to leave them on for long are high. Leaving your braids on for long can result into hair loc. The maximum time you can stay with braided hair is eight weeks.
When you undo your braids, give it a break before you move on to the next one to let your hair breathe. While it is open, trim the dead ends and treat it with an appropriate conditioner.