Braids are adorable, and everyone knows it. Unfortunately, braids can also be damaging. French braids or tighter pigtails can increase the incidence of split ends in straight and wavy hair. The tight braids in natural hair can cause even more damage.
The good news? You don’t have to accept tress destruction as the price of a cute braided ‘do. Here are a few steps to take to prepare your hair for braiding and keep it safe for the life of your style.
Let It Dry
Nothing destroys hair as quickly as tugging at it when wet. When it’s drenched, hair is more elastic. That may make it feel easier to wrangle, but it’s also easier to tangle, as well as rip and stretch beyond its abilities. Let it dry, and hair will protect itself by maintaining its shape much better.
Use a Sealing Product
Delicate hair cuticles get damaged when you pull and wrap them. If you use a sealing product before braiding, however, you keep the keratin coating in tact much better. That way, it can stand up to heavier styling and won’t break as easily due to damage from other products.
Don’t Pull Too Tight
No matter how carefully you let hair air dry or use the right products, though, pulling too tight will still cause breakage. When braiding your own hair, try to take a looser approach. If you’re putting braids or extensions into natural hair, make sure you work with a professional. Otherwise, not only are you likely to end up with a lackluster ‘do, but you might damage hair as well.
Don’t Use Elastic Ties
If you don’t want to damage your hair, don’t use elastic ties. Period. They tug hair unmercifully and don’t come out easily, no matter how gentle you are. Spend $3 and buy a package of hair ties that have a cloth coating and don’t use a metal clasp to knit the ends together.
Avoid Extra Styling
Many people like the look of braids pulled up into additional styles, but be careful. Those with natural hair shouldn’t put their braids up into buns or take them down too frequently, especially if you’re using elastic ties or claw clips. This can tug hair out of the braids and make it more likely they’ll break.
If you have finer hair and want to wrap a braid around your crown or otherwise put it up, make sure you braid it in that direction. Otherwise, if you braid down then tug upward, you can break it.
Got it? Good. Next time you go to braid your hair, take these steps and it will stay healthier and grow longer. Get in touch with a stylist if you want to learn more about specific hairstyles or are ready to book an appointment today.
Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash