How to prepare your hair for braids for longer, stronger hair.
Maintenance & Cleansing
There are many ways out there to wash braid extensions. I find that the most effective way is to split the hair into four sections, then using watered down shampoo and your fingers, apply the shampoo to the scalp and rub gently to lift the dirt off of the scalp. If you have a lot of product buildup from using greases, oils and growth aids then the use of a soft and small baby toothbrush can help. Just ensure that you do not rub too hard.
- Once the dirt has been lifted off the scalp, band your four sections of hair to ensure that the braids remain in a downright position and do not mat during the washing process. Take more diluted shampoo and pour it over your head and squeeze sections of your braids to ensure that the shampoo penetrates the braids and cleanses the hair inside. Once done run your head under the water until it rinses clean ensuring your hair is still banded to avoid tangling.
- You can now apply your deep conditioner, then conditioner, avoiding your scalp to prevent build up and squeezing the hair to ensure that it penetrates the braids. Rinse really well as conditioners and deep conditioners tend the be thick and could cause build up which can make removing the braids and detangling the hair once they are out difficult.
- Keep braids banded until they about about 50 percent dry, then remove then bands and gently finger detangle if you have loose ends. Removing the bands before the hair is completely dry will prevent your hair from drying with the shape of the bands in them.
It is important to remember that you still have hair underneath your braids that require TLC. The same way you moisturized your hair when it was loose, you need to ensure that your hair is moisturized while in braids. In fact, your hair may need more moisture as the braided hair can absorb some of the moisture from the hair. To ensure that your tresses do not become thirsty, use a liquid moisturizer or braid spray twice daily, spraying it on liberally. A liquid moisturizer is best as it can penetrate the braids and get to your actual hair better rather than simply sitting on top and will help to prevent build up on your braids, especially at the root.
Also this is a good time to keep your scalp happy with oils.
The procedure used for removing braid extensions is just as important as the one used for installing them. The right technique is key to ensure that you hold on to as much your new growth as possible. To help to make the hair more slippery and pliable, try using a water, conditioner and oil mix to unravel the braids. Once it is out, detangle that section of hair right away rather than trying to tackle one large section. Do not run a comb through it, simply remove any residue at the base and gently pull the hair apart.
Also keep in mind that a lot of hair shedding is normal. It is estimated that we shed about 100 hairs per day, so if your hair has been braided for a prolonged period then that shed hair is only now being removed from your hair.
Lastly, to prevent a nightmare of a detangling session, do not leave braids in your hair for more than 2 months, and even that is pushing it. You will end up losing more hair to tangles and knots than you will gain in hair growth.
Learn more about protective styles.