Braided hairstyles are an excellent style choice to give your strands a break and to protect it from damage in your natural hair care routine.
A staple in any natural black hair care regimen – or any hair routine – braids, twists and individuals are a unique and gorgeous protective style.
However, there are a few principles to know before having your hair braided, in order to retain your hair’s length and moisture. If you’re thinking about braiding your hair, check out these six things you must do before having your hair braided.
By: Diena Diallo
Step 1: Moisturize & Prepare Your Hair
If your hair is mostly dry, breaks easily, and has a hard time staying moisturized, it’s important to co-wash or oil your hair before your braids are installed.
You can also oil your hair with a mixture of extra virgin oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil a few hours or the night before you wash your hair. This method strengthens and revitalizes your hair. If your ends are split or damaged, clip or trim your hair before installing braids to prevent added damage.
Kimberly Elise Naturals Alchemy 27 is critical to use when you have braids, because the powerful cocktail of 27 ingredients give your hair cuticles a nourishing ingredients that will keep it strong and healthy.
Step 2: Cleanse Your Hair
Next, give your scalp a good scrub using a sulfate-free shampoo, apple cider vinegar, or a wet baking soda mask. This takes out dirt and removes any residue that might be left in your hair. The vinegar also helps to close your cuticles and keep moisture in.
Step 3: Deep Condition Your Hair
Next, deep condition your hair using any conditioner of your choice. Allow the conditioner to sit in your hair for about 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing it out with cold water. If you use heat, you can also sit under a dryer for the same amount of time. This will give your hair strands extra slip and aid the braid installation.
Check out Kimberly’s D-I-Y conditioner recipe for more moisturized hair!
Step 4: Balance Your Hair’s PH
Rinse your hair and scalp with an herbal infusion. This will not only give your hair it’s correct pH balance, but also increase blood flow and stimulate the growth cycle of your hair. Some herbal infusions are rosemary, catnip, lavender, chamomile and also peppermint.
Looking for more ways to incorporate herbal infusions into your hair care? Try Kimberly Elise’s Alchemy 27, a hair and scalp elixir for women who have experienced visible hair breakage from damaging hairstyles, excessive heat, and environmental stress.
Step 5: Detangle Your Hair
Much of the pain experienced during and after African hair braiding is caused by tangled hair. Therefore, it is important that your hair is thoroughly detangled before all braided hairstyles are done. For braids, finger-detangling your hair is not enough. You should use a medium tooth comb and detangle your hair from the tip, and work your way up to the roots. You can also try and make your own detangling spray!
Check out Kimberly’s recipe for a D-I-Y Peppermint Leave-In Conditioner & Detangling Spray.
Step 6: Go Get Your Braids
Lastly, one of the most important things you must do is find a good stylist to install your braids (if you are not doing them yourself). Make sure you use someone you can trust to care for your hair, and someone who is experienced with braided hairstyles. Also, do not enlist a hair stylist that is heavy-handed or braids too tightly!
With good installation and proper maintenance, you can rock your protective braided hairstyles for up to 8 weeks.
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About The Writer: Diena Diallo is an author and the founder of Diena Simply Natural. As a hair stylist and health coach, she helps women looking for a change to feel beautiful so they can live confidently through life and stay healthy enough to achieve their dreams.
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How do you prep your hair for braids? Share some of your favorite tips with us in the comments!