So I just put my hair in cornrows/braids and I’m loving it! I really needed a break to prioritize my physical training over the next few weeks. So simple braids seemed and have indeed proven to be the answer.
Ever since spotting the new look I’ve had questions on what to do prior to, during and post Braids! Now that would have made for a long-ass blog, so this blog is focused on what to do before you even sit in the braider’s chair. There is, of course, a whole other list of things to tell your braider and care during the time you wear your braids, including how to take them down safely and what to do after you take your braids out! But all that is for another day.
My 5 Must Do’s Before Braiding
Give yourself a good and thorough cleanse. This is not the time to be yapping on about Sulphate free shampoo- get the clarifying shampoo out and give your scalp and hair a thorough cleanse. This will allow for a fresh canvas. Your hair is going to be in braids for 4 weeks or more for some of you ( my personal advice is 4 weeks for most of you), it needs to be clean, Sulphate clean.
it’s a good time for a fabulous protein treatment. Your hair is going to be stretched, pulled, manipulated, and a foreign attachment added. These are all stressful to your strands. Therefore, grab for your protein treatment or your protein conditioner for added strength.
This is the time for deep nourishment and moisturizing with a great deep conditioner. So now your scalp and hair have been thoroughly clarified. And you have done a protein treatment. The deep cleanse and protein treatment may have left your hair feeling dry. Even if you used a milder protein it is still important to restore the moisture your strands have lost. So please deep condition thoroughly. Restore the equilibrium ready for what’s to come
stretch your hair! I’m not a fan of braiding natural hair from damp, although this might work very well for other types of hair that may not tangle or matt easily. I’ve tried it twice and it was a disaster for me. And quite frankly it’s borderline unreasonable to expect your braider to stop and detangle every time he or she needs to part your hair. This will most likely frustrate your braider, and lead to her braiding in tangles or knots, resulting in more matting and breakage on take-down.
To reduce breakage, stretch your hair out using heat-free techniques such as African threading, flat twists, plaits, or with tools such as curl formers or any rollers. But if you need to blow dry then just do it with all the necessary precautions listed above: washing, deep conditioning, protein treatment and don’t forget heat protectants. Stretched hair is easier and quicker to handle, plus it’s less painful to part and less frustrating for the braider.
be generous with a fabulous leave-in conditioner and seal with a great oil! Very sorry to say but this is not the time for a light oil like jojoba. This is the time for something very Moorish, penetrative and long-lasting. These last steps are important as they are going to keep your hair lubricated under the mesh of added hair. Remember your hair is going to be tucked away for a little while. I used the Khalila oil to seal. And as the braider was braiding I asked her to add more Khalila oil. Remember when the whole world went crazy for Chebe? What they forgot to emphasize in their bid to sell Chebe was the technique of the herbs and the oil heavily used prior to braiding up the hair. Draw inspiration from that and lubricate really well with a great leave-in and oil before you braid up!
BONUS POINT !!!
Does your scalp feel extra irritated and itchy right after getting your hair braided? If so, please remember that hair extension pieces are treated with harsh chemicals to preserve the hair. This can lead to an uncontrollable itch for some people. To combat this, soak your hair extension piece in a mixture of warm water and vinegar ( youtube is full of videos of how-to). Hang the hair to dry completely before installing it.
Enjoy braids responsibly as part of a healthy hair regiment!