5 Tips on Maintaining Braids

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by Mary Wolff

Braids are a great way to keep hair stylish and protected at the same time. They are one of the most common hairstyles in the curly hair community. There is also some confusion on maintaining braids. If you find your protective style isn’t lasting as long as you want it to or looking as great as it did in the beginning, it is probably a simple fix. Here are my top 5 tips on maintaining braids.

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1. Cover Hair at Night 
When your hair is unbraided and free, you probably put it up at night to avoid friction caused by the pillow. Lots of curlies forget that this is still important even with protective styles such as braids. A good idea is to cover your hair with a silk scarf or head wrap. This will stop any friction that leads to frizzy braids.

2. Tend to Your Scalp 
When your strands are in braids, your scalp is more exposed and vulnerable. It is important to take care of your scalp all the time, but especially when wearing braided styles. The healthier your scalp is, the better your style will look and the longer it will last. One of the best ways to care for your scalp is to moisturize it properly. Don’t worry about buying expensive scalp treatments. One of the easiest ways to prevent your scalp from drying out during this time is with good old fashioned H2O and oils. Use a spray bottle to spritz some water on roots and scalp whenever you feel dryness throughout the day. Then massage a dab of either jojoba or coconut oil onto your scalp to seal in the water. If your scalp is feeling extra dry, try adding peppermint oil to your mix for a soothing feeling.

3. Wash Every Two Weeks
Lots of curlies think a protective style means less work and in a way they are right. However, you are not off the hook for the next two months in terms of washing your strands just because they are in braids. A few options are to wash them using a squeezing method while in the shower or you can do something called dry washing. Dry washing is using a damp towel, shampoo, and water to wash them by simply running the dampened towel down the braid. If you choose this method, make sure you pay attention to washing your scalp separately. You don't want to clog your pores with extra buildup from products or oils.

4. Leave it Down 
When it comes to maintaining your braids, you need to think about how your wear them every day. If you are prone to putting them up or tying them back, you should know you are adding strain to your style that may make it last for a shorter period than you wanted. Anytime hair is pulled up or back, there is strain put on strands. My advice is to leave your braids down whenever you can and if you do need to restrain them, tie them back loosely.

5. Know When to Take Them Out
One reason your style may not look the way you want it to anymore could have nothing to do with hair care. It may just be that the style has run its course. Most braided styles can stay in place for up to 6-8 weeks. Anything over this two month period can lead to severe damage to your hair. Leaving your hair up longer than this recommended time frame can lead to hair loss so make sure you pull those braids out!

When it comes to keeping hair looking its best, there are many ways to do it regardless of the style. With these helpful tips, extend the life of your protective style while giving your hair the care it needs.

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