From neon box braids to “Lemonade” braids, braids are in right now. But really, when are they not? There are so many different versions of this low-maintenance protective style, and it’s a great way to experiment with color and length. But if you have loose, 3b curls, you may find your braids starting to unravel after just a few days. Not to worry – you’re not alone!
If your braids don’t last as long as you’d like, there are a few ways to make them last much longer. Skeptical? Just look at fellow 3b curlies who rock braids regularly, like Zoë Kravitz, Vashtie, and YouTuber Kersti Pitre for some living proof. Here are some tips for making your braids last:
1. Sweat the technique
A long-lasting braid style starts with neat, secure braids. Your braids need to be tight at the roots to prevent slippage, but not so tight that they cause tension on your scalp. Do plenty of practice on yourself, go to an affordable pro, or ask a skilled friend to help you.
If you have fine hair, try leaving out your edges to reduce tension on the scalp. Avoid braids that will be super heavy, like jumbo braids or extra-long braids.
2. Use products with a strong hold
When you’re braiding 3b hair, the right products are everything.
“Tres Flores Pomade is the only product that keeps my hair from frizzing up when I install my protective styles. It doesn’t flake either,” says Kersti Pitre, a YouTube braid guru with 3b hair. For long-lasting braids, regular ol’ gel simply won’t do: “You want to use a gel that is thick.”
Kersti also recommends Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey Shine Pomade to keep your hair moisturized underneath the braids. Use pomade throughout your braids to help your natural hair blend in with the braiding hair.
3. Choose your style wisely
If your curls tend to frizz up and start popping out of braids within a week or two, try a style like yarn braids or faux locs, which easily mask stray hairs. Alternatively, you can go for a less-sleek micro-braid style, like Zoë Kravitz’s signature look.
“I usually redo them once a month and [sometimes] in between,” Zoë told Refinery29. She totally embraces the frizz along the way – and it looks magical.
Jumbo box braids are another great option for 3b hair. They take less time than small braids or scalp braids, and they’re cheap and easy to do on yourself. Celebrity hair braider Guin Gui shows how simple the style is on Vashtie’s hair.Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA26gCg4t3g&feature=youtu.be
With proper maintenance, you can make any braid style last for a few weeks if you follow the next 4 steps.
4. Wrap it up!
Once your braids develop frizz, it’ll be difficult to make them look completely neat again without re-doing them. To avoid frizz as much as possible, wrap your hair with a secure silk or satin scarf at night. A silk pillowcase is a helpful back-up, but nothing will keep your edges maintained like a scarf will. No excuses!
5. Cut down your wash routine
Yes, you need to keep your scalp clean while your braids are installed. But your regular wash routine will absolutely cause frizz at the scalp – not to mention how long it’ll take to dry all of that hair! Instead, use a root rinse or treatment, like Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey Clarifying Scalp Treatment, to cleanse your scalp.
6. Regular touch-ups
To touch up your edges and any loose sections of the hair, you can use the same product that you or your braider used initially – a heavy pomade.
If you notice some frizz and want to reduce it, YouTuber Jade recommends a defining mousse to lay hairs back down, and a strong-hold hair spray like will further keep those hairs in place. Don’t forget to use a hair scarf to set the style!
To really lengthen your style, you can re-braid the most important, visible braids – the front edges. Re-braiding takes a bit of time, but it’s nowhere near the length of time that it takes to braid your entire head of hair, and it’ll make your braids look practically brand new again. This can add another week or two to your braids.
Avoid other maintenance shortcuts, like re-twisting your roots, which are ultimately damaging to the hair.
7. Keep braids moisturized
Use your favorite moisturizing oils and sprays to keep your hair soft and shiny.
“To maintain [my braids], I’ll use some coconut oil,” Zoë said. Other women prefer Jamaican black castor oil. There are also an array of braid sprays available; look for one without mineral oil, which can cause build-up.
Fellow 3b curlies, how long do you keep your braids in? How do you do it? Let us know below in the comments! If you’re looking for braided hairstyle ideas, check out this article.