How to Care For Your Summer Braids

Janell M. Hickman
tumblr n0a0p4wq9x1rqgjz2o1 1280 How to Care For Your Summer Braids

Summertime and the living is easy—especially when you can trade in your everyday style for of-the-moment braids. From Zoe Kravitz to Selita Ebanks (and yes, Beyonce), the warm-weather hairstyle has taken on a new twist, no pun intended. But what do you really need to know before you rock this style? We spoke to the expert to help you enjoy your protective style with no strings attached.

Find The Right Salon
“When picking a braiding salon/stylist it’s important to assess their professional experience,” explains Aminata Diagne N’Diaye, Owner of Aminata Africa Hair Braiding. “This way you can really gauge their level of expertise and choose who’s right for the particular hairstyle you are looking to get. The proof is always in the pudding. Always ask yourself: Is this person a skilled braider? A great weaver or talented hair cutter? With hair styling, practice makes perfect so make sure you check out some of their work and/or client testimonies before sitting in the chair. As a client, always ask which stylist the salon owner or receptionist would recommend—they tend to secretly know every stylist’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Consider Your Hair Texture
“The best hair type for braids is hair that is full and thick, so that the hair can support the braids you will be wearing,” shares celebrity natural hairstylist, Felicia Leatherwood. “Hair that is fine, fragile, thin and damaged should avoid any hairstyle that would put weight on your hair or hairline and cause traction alopecia—a form of balding from tugging or putting tension on hair.”

Opt for Human Hair
“Today, hair used for extensions are available in an array of textures including Brazilian, Cambodian, European, India, Mongolian, and Peruvian hair types,” explains Curly Textured Expert & Author of Textured Tresses, Diane Da Costa. “Plus, these hair types vary in textures from straight, wavy, body wave, loose curls, spiral curls, deep waves, tight deep curl and kinky curly.  All virgin human unprocessed hair usually is available in its natural off-black or brown color. However, this hair can also be colored to match your hair color or processed colored hair.”

MORE: Caring For Braids, Weaves, And Extensions

Avoid Any Surprises
“You should always wash your extensions before installing—but only for weaves—to see its true hair wave pattern, texture and color,” explains N’Diaye. “Extensions after wash reveal their true selves. Think of it as washing your makeup off your face to reveal your bare skin.”

Set A Time Limit
“Braids should only be left in for 4-6 weeks, with a retouch on your hairline after 3 weeks, so that your hairline isn’t hanging on by a thread and stays nice and strong,” explains Leatherwood. “While wearing your braids be sure to apply Profectiv Mega Growth Anti-Thinning Temple Recovery to your hairline to keep it from thinning. You can usually tell when it’s time to take your braids out when the scalp feels sensitive from movement or when the base looks dry and starts to lock up. Another indication you’ve had your braids in too long, is when your new growth is about 1/2inch from your scalp—believe me, take it down!”

Wash Your Braids Correctly
“The scalp should always get shampooed even with braids in the hair, shares Da Costa. “The proper procedure for shampooing braids is:”

  1. Dilute cleansing shampoo with ¾ water in a squeeze bottle with a straight spout    
  2. Apply shampoo to the scalp and massage generously
  3. Rinse thoroughly and let the water and shampoo rinse over the braids, just smoothing hands over braids. Avoid “roughing up” your braids.

Skip Conditioner
“I actually advise my clients not to condition their braids—surprise, surprise!” shares N’Diaye. “Conditioning masks and conditioners tend to loosen braids because of their silken qualities. Conditioners will certainly affect the wear life span and often times will cut it in half. Use hydrating shampoos and oils sprays on braided hairstyles instead.”

Relieve A Dry Scalp
“While your hair is in braids (or even without them), it’s best to treat the scalp with a pre-shampoo—also know as pre-poo—oil treatment especially for dry, itchy scalp,” shares Da Costa. “Apply oil, massage into scalp, and place under a steamer or heat for 15 minutes, then rinse, shampoo and condition. This method exfoliates and lubricates the scalp.  On a daily basis, use a light hair oil or serum to lubricate the scalp.”

Keep Your Hair Hydrated
“Best way to make sure your hair is constantly moisturized is to spritz your hair with a 8oz. bottle of water mixed with 3 table spoons of Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-In-Conditioner with 2 teaspoons of olive oil,” explains Leatherwood. “Simply shake and spray whenever you feel like you need a little more moisture while wearing your protective style.”

Care For Your Own Hair
“Post-braid installation, it’s really important to condition your hair with a deep conditioner and clip your dead hair end, to avoid split ends,” shares N’Diaye. “Your hair has been hibernating for some time and needs tender care and love. Take a scalp treatment and part your hair to carefully massage the oils with a fine tooth comb. While your hair is wet, gently scrape the comb against your scalp to lift all dry skin, dirt and build up—consider this an exfoliation process. I always recommend my clients use a rejuvenating scalp drops like Phyto Phytopolléine Botanical Scalp Treatment or Alter Ego’s Revitalizing Lotion.”

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