Are you wearing braids for the winter? Wearing braids is a good way to give your hair a break from mechanical manipulation as well as thermal styling. The key to keeping your hair healthy while in braids is making sure your scalp remains clean, your hair remains strong and hydrated, and the tension on the follicles is minimal. If you can balance those needs of your hair during this time, you can successfully wear braids whilst retaining length.
Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind!
Have you had a chemical service in the past 3 weeks? If so, I would strongly suggest waiting another 2-3 weeks before braiding your hair. Chemical services tend to weaken protein bonds as well as the hair shaft which means hair is more susceptible to breakage and excess moisture loss.
Use Human Hair: It may be a little more expensive, however using Human Hair can help your tresses retain more moisture; as synthetic braiding hair has a tendency to suck the moisture from your strands. Synthetic hair can also cause breakage from the friction of your delicate hair against the coarse, rigid synthetic strands.
Are you experiencing excessive dryness, breakage, or chronic shedding? You should definitely address those issues prior to getting your hair braided. Adding braids to a host of other hair issues would only exasperate those issues and cause further breakage or hair loss. Check out the following articles to help you get a handle on these conditions:
Make sure the braids aren't too tight: Braids that are installed too tight can thwart hair growth and can also cause severe breakage, thinning and/or permanent hair loss. If you notice raised areas along your scalp or white bumps, your install is too tight.
Make smaller parts/braids around the hairline: Because your hair is baby fine along the hairline, it is imperative that you reduce the amount of stress placed on the follicles near this area. Making smaller parts/braids can help save your strands from hair loss and thinning around your hairline.
Shampoo braids once a week with a Sulfate Free shampoo [preferably one that has antiseptic properties]: Using a sulfate free poo will not only help cut down on frizz, but will also help keep optimal healthy moisture levels. Reach for a shampoo that contains antiseptic properties as this will help keep itchy, flaky symptoms at bay [because it removes bacteria] while leaving your scalp healthy and clean. I recommend Tea Tree Triple Treat by Giovanni.
Deep condition braids once weekly: Keeping your hair nourished and hydrated will help ensure your hair remains shiny, healthy and free of breakage. To deep condition, use your favorite conditioner diluted with a little water [it's easier to wash out this way] and cover with a plastic cap for 15-20 minutes. Rinse and style usual!
Spritz your hair with a strengthener once weekly after deep conditioning: Regular strengthening intervals will help prevent breakage and thinning as a result of prolonged tension from the braids. I recommend spritzing braids liberally with a diluted mix of Infusium 23 [1/2 water - 1/2 Infusium mixture]
Spritz hair at least three times weekly with a conditioner + water spritz: I recommend using a conditioner/water mix in lieu of braid sprays. The properties in the conditioner will help keep your hair soft, correct issues with elasticity and moisture retention.
Seal in moisture: After spritzing your hair with your conditioner & water mix, lightly apply an oil [I recommend Jojoba Oil] to your braids to seal in the moisture and impart shine.
Try to go no longer than 2 months in the same braid install: It is recommended that you keep your hair braided no longer than two months for several reasons. First, your hair and scalp needs time to breath coupled with a bit of rest from all of the tension due to the braids tugging on the follicles of your hair. And lastly, this prevents any dreading and excess matting from occurring.
Stay away from products that contain excessive amounts of mineral oils and petrolatum: These ingredients have a tendency to coat the hair with thick moisture-blocking film that is hard to remove when your hair is braided. Not only do they have a tendency to lock moisture out, but they can also create a sticky coating near the base of the braid which can cause matting and dreaded from your strands sticking to the film.
Nourish your scalp with an essential oil blend, or specialized scalp serum: Nourishing your scalp is an essential part of every healthy hair care regimen, but becomes even more important when it [your scalp] is exposed by wearing styles like cornrows and braids. Apply a scalp serum or essential oil blend to protect, hydrate, and nourish your scalp during this period. Not only will it breed healthier hair, but it will also eliminate issues like dandruff and psoriasis.
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