I miss my hair, Grace. It’s not the same not having her free to touch and hang out with. I am aware that I sound crazy but truly, I miss having my hair loose. I was a having a bit of a hair rut moment and needed a break but just a few days after I got braids, I wanted Grace free again.
Now that I have braids in, I must confess that I sometimes get quite lazy with my hair and abandon the steps of my hair regimen. It’s a very bad habit but one I am sure a lot of people are guilty of where they basically forget about their hair whilst it is in a protective style particularly if the style is braids or a weave. To help myself do better, here are some tips I have found useful for maintaining hair in a protective style:
Moisturise regularly and seal in the moisture.
It is really easy to just forget your hair regimen and established routines and just go with the flow. But just because your hair is in braids or a weave does not mean it suddenly does not need moisture – heck no! It needs the moisture more than ever because the hair strands are locked up in the braids, and without the moisture, the strands dry out and break off once the protective style is taken down. Try to ensure you spray your hair at least every couple of days. Once you have sprayed your hair, seal in the moisture with your regular oils. I have been sealing my hair with Moroccan argan oil which has given my braids a nice shiny sheen. Coconut oil and castor oil are also good sealants for Grace in her braided state.
It is really important to keep up the cleansing regime and cleanse the scalp regularly in order to prevent buildup and dandruff. It can be quite unwieldy washing your hair in braids, particularly if your natural hair is super kinky like mine and the extensions you’re using are straight braids. To get around this problem, take a hand towel and dab it in some ACV and use that to wipe down your scalp round the braids.
As mentioned above, your hair still needs moisture and conditioning despite it being in a protective style, so make sure you keep up your DC treatments. Whilst it can be messy like the cleansing process above, this step is definitely worth it to ensure your hair stays healthy and revitalised notwithstanding its protected state.
Don’t keep the style/braids for too long.
Don’t be that person with the braids or weave where your hair has grown out so much and you’ve had the style in for so long that where the braid actually starts is a distance from your head showing the growth. On one hand, yay for the growth, we want growth, love growth woo! On the other hand, that’s just wrong! Take out the braids or weave, let your hair breathe and then install another protective style if that’s what you want to do. The last thing you want to do is cause your hair to break and lose all that wonderful growth, especially because the braids will be pulling at the roots and the new growth may not be able to handle the weight of the braid pulling on it.
Generally, when Grace is in braids, I generally keep the braids in for a maximum of 8 weeks, but usually not up to that. As a general recommendation, I would say do not keep braids in for longer than 10 weeks but everyone and every head is different so assess your hair and your growth and then you make the decision on whether the braids or weave have gatstago!
Use the opportunity whilst your hair is in braids to do different styles, experiment with colour and shapes and just have fun. If you’re not very creative like me, then youtube is your best friend. Have a look at different videos and look at what people are doing with their braids.
Don’t get too comfortable in the style or use it as a crutch.
Seriously, I am the worst with this. I told you that I literally put Grace in braids and forgot all about her. Yes so I have an extra half an hour in the mornings or before I go out when I don’t need to do anything with the braids and can just go out but where’s the fun in that? And besides, if you are being creative and trying out different styles then you won’t have the extra half hour because you’ll be back doing your hair again. Protective styles, whilst good for your hair and achieving growth, can be extremely bad in terms of consistency of regimens. People (me!) lapse and get lazy, and then slowly, but sometimes surely, start to regress in their hair journey and start to see their natural hair when not in a protective style as a hindrance or a burden. Read HERE all about my hair insecurities. Enjoy your hair both in its protected state but also in its loose state too, so don’t get too comfy in that protective style, don’t!
Wrap your hair at night or sleep on a satin pillow case.
This is to avoid drying your hair out even whilst it’s in its protective style. As mentioned above, you don’t want to lose all your new growth to breakage due to dryness when you take down the style.
Finally, last but not at least:
Hope these tips were helpful to someone. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments or drop me a line!