It’s almost summer, which for me and most black folks, means braid season. Summer, with natural hair, humidity, trips, beaches and that other summer stuff, just is a pain in the ass. So into a protective style, it goes, so I can go out and get my black girl magic on without worrying about my afro shrinking up or drying out every 45 minutes. I just put in my own twists over the weekend—
As much as we love us some protective styles, I think a lot of us tend to get a bit lazy and forget to still take care of our hair when it’s in braids or twists. I still see posts on social media from people who think you can just leave it in and be good for a few months. I’ll admit, I used to be that person too, but I learned the hard way, and educated myself on my natural hair care. So as I sit here waiting to rinse the ACV (apple cider vinegar) off of my scalp, I decided to drop a few of my tips/reminder for y’all to help with braid maintenance this summer or any other time y’all are rocking braids.
Itchy scalp? Use an ACV rinse
So one of the most common things that happens when you get braids or twists installed, is your scalp itches like hell. This primarily happens when you use synthetic hair as opposed to human hair. If you want to spend $12/pack on human hair for braids, go for it. I personally don’t see the point in using real hair if it’s going to be braided the whole time, but to each is their own. Because of the alkaline coating used to store and maintain synthetic hair, it can irritate your scalp which causes the itching or just a general discomfort. Solution? An ACV rinse. There are actually two different ways you can do this:
Rinse the hair BEFORE you install. Some people do this and some don’t. If you go to a stylist, they most likely will not do this. If you have the time and want to do it yourself, you can avoid most of this before the hair is even installed. You just let the hair soak in a tub of water & AVC and rinse it out. Check out the tutorial below to the right.
Use a spray bottle. If it starts to itch or be irritated after it’s been installed, get a spray bottle (you can find them anywhere like Target) put 2 parts water to 1 part ACV and spray it on directly on the entire scalp. Let it sit for about an hour and then rinse. I feel the relief almost immediately.
You still gotta LOC.
That’s right y’all you still have to use the LOC method. If you’re not familiar with LOC it’s the most basic step of natural hair care that everyone’s routine is built from Liquid, Oil, Cream. Liquid to moisturize, oil to nourish and cream (or butter) to lock it all in. Read more about the method here. We tend to forget we need to still do this when our hair is in braids. But even though your hair is braided away and in a protective style, it’s STILL THERE and needs water, oil and cream to grow and be healthy. Otherwise, you gone take them braids out after a few weeks and your hair is going to be dry and damaged and you’ll be wondering why you wasted all that time putting in a protective style. Speaking of taking your hair out…
STOP LEAVING IN YOUR BRAIDS FOR MONTHS!
Y’all I be wondering why so many people don’t have edges anymore, and it’s because y’all get these braids/twists and leave them in more MONTHS. I know people who’ve left in braids for over a year. You cannot do this. Protective styles are really only supposed to be left in from 6-8 weeks, and the absolute longest, 12 weeks IF you are very good and maintaining them, which most of us ain’t. Your hair needs to breathe, it needs a deep condition, it needs proper maintenance. If you want to have braids all the time, you have to take them out, let your hair relax for a little bit and then you can put them back in.
Wash your braids
Again, you don’t get to ignore your hair. Wash out your braids at least every two weeks. Your scalp needs to be cleansed of dirt sweat and product build up. Luckily you don’t have to jump in the shower to do this. You can if you want to, but you can do wash your scalp in a sink or over the tub. You can also use the dry wash method in which you take a clean washcloth and a shampoo of your choice, and wipe it on your scalp, throughout the sections.
Protect Your Edges
I have always been confused about how so many of y’all are walking around with no edges. What are you doing? Then I realized it’s because a lot of people are putting way too much strain on their edges. How can you avoid this?
Wrap it up at night.
Re-install the braids around your edges
That’s all the tips I got for this time, if you’re looking for more natural hair tutorials, check out my Youtube playlist for Natural Hair Care.
What about you? What are your tips and tricks for maintaining braids in the summertime?
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