Back to Basics: Braid Care and Maintenance

What you don’t know about braid care and maintenance can hurt you. In fact, I recall a time when I was nearly in tears because I made some common mistakes in regard to caring for my braids. It wasn’t pretty – and from the hundreds of e-mails I receive from my customers as well as the patrons I meet in my salon – I know I’m not alone in my experience. Maybe you can relate to it, as well.

At the time I had no idea how to maintain braids, nor did I know how long I should leave them in my hair. That was my first mistake, and the results were devastating. In fact, I’ll never forget the day when I took out the braids and was shocked to see that my hair was starting to loc – at least, I thought it was. It was the first time I had ever had micro braids, and I learned some painful lessons about braid care and maintenance that day.

I have to admit it; I did everything wrong. I pulled them into tight ponytails; I hardly took time to shampoo them; and I never conditioned them. Needless to say, when it was time to take out my braids, I was in for a “treat.”

Here’s what happened next. While I was taking out my braids, I noticed a knotted ball where the extension was attached to my hair. I was taken aback. (I later learned this was dirt, lint, gel, and any other product I had been using on my hair.)

That, unfortunately, was just the beginning of my nightmare. I then carefully combed through my hair to ensure that I didn’t rip any of it. Unfortunately, it was too late to undo the damage I had already caused. I lost some of my hair and my scalp was sore.

Here is where I nearly started to cry. Once I got to the roots, my hair was literally falling out. I was shocked at what I saw in the mirror…. I had a bald spot! I was suffering from traction alopecia, and it was my fault.

Traction alopecia is common among people who wear tightly attached hair weaves, braids, dreadlocks, and cornrows because the tension results in a constant pull of the hair, which, in turn, may lead to gradual (temporary or permanent), hair loss. The good news, however, is that with proper hair care, this condition is 100% preventable.

My experience was – needless to say – a life-altering moment which led me to learn to style hair as well as dedicate my life to teaching others how to properly maintain their hair. Because I’ve learned from my experiences, I now pass on my knowledge to others so they can avoid the same mistakes. Now when I wear braids and take them out, I still have hair…and it’s healthy.

Getting your hair braided can definitely be exciting; however, most people who get their hair braided mistakenly think that wearing braids means that they don’t have to take care of their hair, which can lead to devastating results. Unfortunately, many of us neglect the care and maintenance of our hair while it’s braided, cornrowed, or twisted.

I’m here to help.

So that you can avoid – or repair – the results of improperly managed braids, I’m offering my trade tips to maintaining healthy hair and a healthy scalp before, during, and after you get braids.
Before:

1. First things first: Once you find a salon, ask your stylist if he or she offers shampooing and conditioning prior to braiding your hair. This may sound a little crazy, but a lot of braiding salons don’t offer this service, even though it’s an integral factor to keeping your hair healthy. If they don’t offer the service and you still decide to get your hair braided at that salon, be sure to shampoo and deep condition your hair prior to getting it braided.

During:

1. Be sure to shampoo with regular shampoo, and condition your hair every two to three weeks. You can use a traditional conditioner; however, be sure to completely rinse it out of the hair to avoid unwanted buildup. Also, consider leave-in conditioners. They’re easy to use and provide great results. Don’t neglect your hair in between shampoos; be sure to use a dry shampoo to keep your scalp clean. Also, consider leave-in conditioners. They’re easy to use and provide great results.

2. It’s also very important to keep the scalp moisturized. For best results, use light oil like Argan or Moroccan oils for hair. Avoid using grease because it clogs the pores.
3. Avoid pulling the hair into tight pony tails. This can cause the traction alopecia I’ve experienced. Traction alopecia usually occurs around the temples and edges, so be sure to wear your hair loosely.

After:

1. Once you remove your braids, carefully comb your hair, dividing it in sections, starting from the ends and slowly working your way to the roots. Your hair will shed during this process. Don’t worry. It’s completely normal.

2. Use a gentle clarifying shampoo to rid your hair of the dirt and oils. Then use a moisturizing shampoo and give yourself a deep conditioning treatment.

3. Style as usual.

It’s very important to note that if you plan to relax your hair, you will need to wait at least two weeks before doing so to avoid chemical burns to your scalp.

Getting braids can be very exciting – that is, if you know the proper steps to take before, during, and after getting them. Be sure to follow these tips, and you’ll be sure to have beautiful, healthy hair and avoid some of the unsightly results that I’ve experienced in the past.

Be blessed!
Marquetta Breslin

P.S. There are still a few spots left for my upcoming Lace Wig Seminar, if you haven’t applied yet, make sure to here: Apply For Lace Wig Seminar!

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  1. Anonymous says

    What is the best Dry Shampoo to used

  2. Gwennie B. says

    It has been awhile since I’ve had my hair braided but I did know somewhat how to care for my hair while the braids were in. The only thing is that I need to find the right oil to keep my hair moisturized with. I use this stuff called Africa’s Best Super Gro Hair and Scalp Conditioner so I guess I need to find something else. Thanks for the advice.