As mentioned earlier in my blogs, there are various methods of getting protective styling. One of the methods that I mentioned was braiding. Now braiding is a great way to protect especially Afro hair from being exposed to the harsh weather conditions. It’s also a way of maintaining the hair as it is curly and tangles a lot if it is not in a protected style or even properly maintained. I did not realize this but when I was a lot younger, I had my hair cut short for a long time. I must have started getting it done when I was a little older. I did not get a relaxer until I was almost 13 or 14 years old, but I also got rid of chemicals from my hair at 19 years old. Ever since that time, I have only left my hair in its natural state although I used to blow dry it regularly. At the age of 19, I worked on learning how to look after hair so that I was able to maintain my own hair. It was something that started as a passion and to this day still is because I always look after my hair. Another reason for this was the fact that I stopped blow drying my hair often.
Braiding styles and patterns come in all different shapes and forms. In certain parts of Africa they signify a certain clan and were a way of identifying specific family members. Therefore, if you go to different parts of the continent, you will find different styles that are authentic to a region. In the cities, people normally just wear whatever style they like or what is considered in fashion. As you can see from the pictures below, here is an example of popular braided styles.
I remember one question that individuals often used to ask and that is how to maintain braids. If you braid your hair without adding any extensions, they will only last for up to two weeks. Mainly it’s because your hair grows and it will start to get frizzy. If you use a satin cloth when you go to sleep every day, you can keep it in for longer. The size of the braid will also make a difference to how long it will last. If you have the really large cornrows on your hair say about 2 of them, I tend to last a week, however for some individuals they only last for about 2 to 3 days. If you have smaller cornrows, they can even last for a month depending on how well you take care of them. For others, they can only last 2 weeks, however maintenance is key.
If your scalp is itchy, I did recommend some products that could be used to help in maintaining it well.
Yes braids can be washed, there are a few methods that you can use to help in making sure that they last a little longer on your scalp. Before you braid your hair, it’s important to have a clean scalp. This helps in keeping the scalp cleaner for longer and also in keeping the braids in good condition. Normally before the process of braiding, your hair has to be moisturized and stretched to get the best results. After the installation of the braids or your own hair, I always make sure that a few days after the braiding, if my scalp seems a little dry I will definitely moisturize it. Now the thing with moisturizer for my hair, I tend to use a lighter oil rather than a heavier oil. The main reason is that it minimizes any itching that can take place. After the first week, sometimes, I use a spirit to clean my scalp and minimize any type of itch, but once it dries out, I will put moisturizer immediately to stop any dryness.
Normally after a week or two I will wash the hair with shampoo and conditioner. The problem I normally find with braids in general, they tend to have build-up after a few weeks. It’s very difficult to avoid buildup and sometimes you just have to remove the braids to avoid your hair getting tangled and minimizing breakage.
Removal of braids
When you remove your braids, you have to make sure that you try to detangle each braid as soon as possible. If you remove all the braids in one go and do not detangle bit by bit, if you don’t do that, you will have a sore scalp. Make sure that you have someone assist you with the process as it may take some time. Make sure that you use the detangling shampoo as well to make the process smoother. During the process of removal, it’s wise to have some olive oil at the side and spray your hair each time. It will help with the detangling process.
It is important to note that you must take a break between braiding. If you can give your scalp some time to breath, it’s vital and important. The main reason is that you need to let your hair breathe. Many individuals do not like to expose their hair, maybe they don’t like the length or it’s difficult to do anything with it in its natural state and that is understandable, but you just have to find what works for you. We are fortunate that more than ever there are many options in this day and age. If you want, you can wrap your hair and not have to expose it to anyone. A break of 2 weeks to a month is sufficient, but the longer the break the better for your hair.
I mention this because I have braided my hair many times. You have to be careful how you look after your scalp. I remember one time I was braiding my hair and I happened to put in the braid a little too tight. On that particular day for some reason, I bumped my poor hair onto a ledge. Afterwards, I felt a tingling sensation that did not go away. On removal of my braid, I found that my hair literally fell out. The fact that I had pulled my hair too hard and the impact of the hit caused me to have a little bold spot on my scalp. I was lucky that it grew back, however I had to change the way I styled my hair significantly. I also had to be careful how I was doing my hair to make sure never to repeat that mistake again. You must always give your hair a break after braiding so that you allow your hair to breath and also grow. You also need to check your scalp to make sure that you don’t have any dandruff and if you do that you get it treated before you braid your scalp again. In terms of hygiene if you have someone that braids you, it’s fine to ensure that the items used on your scalp are also clean. If you must you can even use your own hair tools for your own peace of mind. These are critical things to think about when you do braid your hair.
What sort of styles do you like to do on your hair? Have you braided your hair without a break?