Hi y'all and happy Friday! One of my go-to "no heat/ protective" hair style is single braids. Growing up, my mom would only allow us have our hair in braids once a year during the Christmas holidays. I always looked forward to it and tried everything from box braids to twist :) It is now my go-to hair style in Winter, when the air is especially dry.
One of the reasons I love braids is because, it is low maintenance. It is also one of the biggest reasons why a lot of women end up with split ends, hair breakage and non existing edges. The assumption that "once my hair is in braids, I don't have to do anything to it, till its time to take them down" is false! Some folks will argue that braids break their hair and others will argue otherwise. Based on my personal experience, it grows hair, if it is well cared for. Here are some of my braid management tips which is not limited to single braids or twists but also corn rolls management.
Oil your scalp
The biggest and single most important thing you can do for your hair when it is in braids, is to oil your scalp. Hair gets dry faster in braids so oiling your scalp, stimulates your roots and prevents dry scalp and dandruff. I use my favorite unrefined extra virgin coconut oil. Anti-Intch oils are also amazing for the scalp.
Oil the braids
Oiling shouldn't be limited to the scalp because your hair is also part of the braids. My go to oil sheen is African Royale Brx Braid Sheen. Applying your favorite oil mix from a spray bottle also gets the job done.
Perform weekly cleaning
One of the problems with having braids in, is the build up of oil and dirt at the root of the hair where the braiding starts. It is one of the reasons why breakage occurs. Spraying the scalp with an antiseptic cleaner will prevent build ups and thus prevent dandruff.
Use a hair bonnet
Just because your hair is in braids doesn't mean that it doesn't need protection. Covering your hair nightly in a satin/silk bonnet prevents friction while you sleep and also keeps your braids moisturized.
Dry Shampoo your braids
Another amazing thing you can do for your hair, is to use a dry shampoo every 2 weeks. Personally I just opt for weekly cleaning with an antiseptic cleaner, but there are dry shampoos in the market which are amazing for single braids cleaning.
Protect your edges with oils
One of the often neglected part when in braids, are the edges. They need love too, so apply your favorite oil every few days to keep them from drying out and prevent breakage. I apply coconut oil to my edges and I don't limit it to the front of my hair, but I go around my hair line. Shea butter is also amazing.
Go easy on styling your braids
I love styling my hair in different styles when it is braided up, but I know it can put tension on my hair especially my edges, which can cause breakage.
Never keep them too long
Knowing when to take off your braids is key. It is the number one golden rule. Just because the braids look fine but you have about 2 inches of your hair out, doesn't mean its ok to keep it for another month. It will eventually lead to hair breakage. The front of your hair is a big giveaway and a general rule of thumb. The longest I have kept braids in, is 10 weeks, 8 weeks is a good average.
Taking the braids off is just as important
The method at which you take off your braids is very important. A lot of breakage happens when braids are not properly taken down. Stick to taking them out individually and the use of a comb on each braid to remove the build up is best versus trying to comb it "all at once" after taking it down, it limits breakage. Don't use a scissors, no matter how tempting it may be. Ensure you perform an oil treatment on your hair (Prepoo) before shampooing it, your hair needs it.
Other things to keep in mind
-Before getting your hair braided, ensure that you wash and use a deep conditioner on your hair. I also always do a prepoo before shampooing.
-Love braids but don't have the patience to sit down for hours, try a sew in braid option. Your edges are braided while braided extensions are installed everywhere else.
-Ensure that the stylist is mindful of your edges when putting them in braids, hold down your roots when it is being braided, it limits the tension on your hair.
-If you have relaxed hair, stick to waiting for about 3-4 weeks after a relaxing before getting braids installed.