Me: Hi guys, my name is Njeri and I have a confession to make
Gang: Hi Njeri, confess away!
Me: It all started when….
…. I decided that I was going to do a post about how to style jumbo box braids for different occasions. I had already installed mine and expected that they would last for about three weeks. Let’s just say that by the end of the first week I felt like shaving off the extensions from my hair. My scalp was on fire – itchy to the point that I was sure I would end up bleeding. On top of that, my face was breaking out like T-bag and Scofield! Shaaaaa!! It was so bad I couldn’t wait to follow up this post with a styling post like the one I did here. So I undid my hair and instead decided to do a post about some things you can do to protect your hair and reduce the likelihood of having such a bad experience.
- Cleanse your Scalp
The first step is to cleanse your scalp with a shampoo. If you braid on a scalp that has product build-up, rest assured that you are going to itch a good one! If you are having dandruff problem, don’t expect smooth sailing either. It will probably get worse. To avoid all this, just cleanse your scalp and deal with any pre-existing problems before you install braids. I like Creme of Nature’s sulfate-free shampoo which I mentioned in my haul at the beginning of the year.
- Deep Conditioning
You don’t want to tuck and hide your hair away without giving it the necessary ingredients for health and growth. The need for moisture cannot be emphasized enough. Deep condition your hair so it can have all the moisture it needs under your braids. Seal the moisture with oil and a butter or cream to ensure that your strands retain moisture for longer. The added benefit is that you will not have to spritz your hair for over a week which means that your braids stay neater for longer.
I’m currently liking Cantu’s conditioner. It has a rich creamy texture and leaves my hair saturated with moisture.
- Detangle Thoroughly
If you don’t use a comb or brush regularly, this is the time to break it out and go ham! Once you have finger-detangled, you will still need to go in with a wide-toothed comb or a Denman brush to get rid of ALL the knots. This way, you don’t have to deal with constant snagging and combing when braiding your hair. Ensuring that all the knots are eliminated will also come in handy during take-down. Basically, the more tangled your hair, the easier it will get matted and the more hair you will lose when undoing the braids.
- Stretch Your Hair
Stretched hair always yields neater braids, both at the roots and along the length of your hair. Some people prefer to lightly blow dry/ blow out their hair. That is absolutely alright. For me, my hair doesn’t do well with heat. If I want to achieve neat braids and avoid unnecessary tangling, I stretch my hair before installing braids. This can be done in twists, braids or through the banding method, to mention but a few.
- Clean Your Braid Extensions
Finally, you need to clean your braid extensions before installing them. I skipped this step this time and paid for it. For those of us who have extremely sensitive scalps, it is paramount to swish the braids in a shampoo bath or soak them in diluted ACV.
For the shampoo bath, get about two liters of water in a basin or bucket, pour one pump of shampoo then swish your hair in the mixture. You can let it soak for about five minutes before removing your hair. Proceed to rinse your basin/ bucket, fill it with two liters of water and swish your braids again to rinse them. Once you are sure that the braids are well-rinsed, spread them out on a towel to dry. If you have a blowdrier, you can use it to quicken the drying process.
For the ACV bath, get about two liters of water in your basin/ bucket. Pour half a cup of apple cider vinegar into the water and soak your braids in the bath for about five to ten minutes. Remove the extensions, rinse your basin/ bucket, fill it with two liters of water and rinse the hair. Once you are sure that the braids are well-rinsed, spread them out on a towel or use a blowdrier to hasten the process.
With these steps, you can confidently protect your strands. In the same breath, you will be able to keep your scalp healthy and avoid itching or irritation. Let’s just say that this experience definitely taught me a lesson the hard way. I used a new brand of braids and assumed that they wouldn’t cause any allergies. True to my friend’s words, assumption was the lowest form of thinking in my case. Hehehe.
As usual, let me know which one of these steps you NEVER skip and which you never find critical to the preparation process before you get your braids done. Also feel free to like, comment, share and subscribe for automatic updates once a new post goes up. See you next week! 🙂