For a long time I refused to install braids in my hair because the cons always seemed to outweigh the pros and frankly, I dreaded the idea of having to remove them… Let alone install them! However, after weeks of research I realised that braids are a great protective style and if installed properly, can be a major contributor to healthy hair growth.
Most people usually go wrong with braids as they either install them too tight, too heavy, forget to moisturise or all of the above, so I have hand-picked the top 5 tips for installing and maintaining braids the RIGHT way.
1. Moisturise that hair!
Before you install any long-term protective style, make sure your hair has been deep conditioned and/or moisturised thoroughly. Installing a protective style on dry hair can cause breakage. While your braids are in, moisturise them daily by spraying them with water then sealing in the water with a light oil. It is important to use a light oil as heavy products like Shea butter can cause build up on your braids.
2. Loose but secure.
Now when I say loose I don’t mean hanging an inch from your scalp, I just mean do not install your braids so tight that you can physically feel the tension. Installing your braids super tight, especially around your nape and hairline will cause traction alopecia [click HERE for my post explaining traction alopecia ]. As long as your braids are secure, they will last long! When the braids around your hairline begin to grow out, to prevent tension and breakage it is important to redo them. The weight of grown out braids around your hairline becomes a lot greater and this weight applies pressure on the new hair that is growing out of your scalp.
3. Have the correct hair to extension ratio.
Try to use the same thickness of the extensions, as the section of hair you’re going to braid. If you have a tiny section of hair, a large amount of extensions will make the braid too heavy for your hair. This can weaken your hair and cause breakage upon removal, as well as traction alopecia. If you’re going for jumbo box braids try to have medium-large sections so the weight of the extensions will not be too much for your own hair to handle. In my tutorial I use the feathering technique which causes the ends of my braids to be thinner than the top-middle section. This is important because it reduces the overall weight of the braid while giving it a light and almost layered finish.
4. Maintain them like you mean it!
Maintaining your protective style is always the key if you’re aiming for healthy hair growth. Styles like braids give you the opportunity to get your scalp in tip-top condition because so much of it is exposed! Moisturise your scalp and hair daily by using water and a sealant oil so that when you choose to remove your braids, the condition of your hair and scalp is 10/10. Not only will this give your hair the main thing it needs to flourish, but it will minimise the potential for split ends and knots. Night time care is just as important, so make sure you tie your braids down before you sleep with a satin scarf to: 1, reduce rubbing of the hairline and 2, retain moisture. If your scarf rarely stays on your head throughout the night, place a large satin scarf over your pillow for the same purpose.
5. Style with care.
Be careful when styling braids as the constant up-down motion from buns and ponytails is a form of manipulation that can cause tension and major breakage upon removal. Try to style your braids in a way that doesn’t require constant re-styling. If you are going to style your braids, be gentle and moisturise before you begin! Remember your hair has gone through enough manipulation from installing the braids.
Here’s my tutorial on how to install braids the right way, enjoy!
In my tutorial I use my DIY mix of oils to seal in the moisture, but you can use any other oil such as Coconut, Avocado, Olive etc. (I would not advise castor oil). If you have any questions comment below.
Lots of love,