What type of braids should I get for my natural hair? I've never had braids and want to explore. I am going on three months natural (and) I've heard putting braids in will maximize the growth. Which kind of braids should I get?
First, congrats for going natural. No matter how many have gone before you, this is a personal and rewarding journey that is more than a hairstyle change, depending on what it means to you. A popular way to go natural is wearing braids for maximum length retention. Maximum growth comes from not braids but proper diet, exercise, moisture-protein balance, low stress levels, genetics, and low manipulation. This does not mean you cannot achieve maximum growth by wearing braids while you transition; this is just a reminder that added hair is a style and not a solution for optimal hair growth.
Placing braids in your hair is a great way to transition, but there are rules to follow so that your transitioned hair (that may be fragile and weak from chemical relaxers) does not become weaker or neglected. Hair that is in braids, under a wig, or in a sew-in still needs moisturizing and cleansing, and when transitioning you must be hyper vigilant about taking care of your curls when it is braided or hidden away. Protective styles only work if you are protecting the hair that is hidden.
Crochet braids, Senegalese twists or braids, or box braids are great styles for transitioning
There are several types of styles to choose from but like the next tip states, you need to be aware of which size will be best.
Steer clear from small braids or tight braids
These can be detrimental to your edges especially, but styles like micro braids are notorious for pulling hair out from the root. They are really not great for anyone, but for a transitioner it can be grave mistake that may cause breakage. The larger the braids the better, as that allows you to reach your scalp and hairs to properly moisturize, cleanse, and allow air to get to your scalp.
Give your hair a break in-between braid installations
Do not take your braids down on a Tuesday and have more installed on a Friday. You need to give your hair a week or longer to breath and rest. It may be a great time for a trim during one of those breaks too, so check your ends and edges to making sure there is no thinning. Never allow a braider to install your braids so tight that you find bumps or have headaches. That means the braid is too tight and you are at risk of thinning or even breakage when you take it down.
Give your hair (during breaks) some extra TLC
Protein treatments are great for strengthening your hair after a long braid installation. Make sure to deep condition during and after your braid installation. Remember that your hair needs to be cleansed, conditioning, and moisturized whether braided or loose. Never leave your braids in longer than recommended and give your hair enough time to rest between applications.
Read more: Ask Dr. Kari: Effective Protective Styling