How to Care for Your Braids

Braids cost a good amount of money and also take a lot of time to install. They're a protective hairstyle that can help maintain the good health of your natural hair even in harsh weather conditions. They're also low-maintenance and don’t compromise the integrity of your hair and scalp. Things could go wrong, though, if you don’t maintain and care for your braids the right way.

Moisturize the Scalp as Often as Possible

Moisturizing your scalp is crucial as it helps you control flakiness and dryness, keeping your head and scalp in a healthy condition. Scalp dryness results from skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. In severe situations, the skin may also suffer from weeping, crusting, or bleeding.

When these conditions develop on the scalp, they can be harder to treat than other areas with less hair. Dry scalp can also be due to dehydration, daily washing of the hair, weather changes, and harsh hair ingredients.

Signs of a dry scalp include:

You can prevent all these problems by regularly moisturizing your scalp while taking care of your braids.

Don't quit spritzing your hair just because you’re wearing braids. Your scalp and roots need adequate moisture for maximum health. Begin by spraying your hair with water and seal in the moisture with shea butter. Some other things that people try are:

Finding the best hair product may take a bit of experimentation on your part. An excellent place to start is with essential oils or moisturizing shampoo.

Wash Your Braids Every Other Week

It’s not uncommon for many ladies to go for a long time without washing their braided hair. But your braids pick up dirt, dust, and sweat, and you certainly don’t want them to stink. Wash your braids the same way you wash your hair, using shampoo and water.

You may also dry-wash the braids using a clean cloth, some water, and shampoo to prevent hair shaft damage. Part your braids into sections and wipe down the scalp using a damp cloth.

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Don’t Use Unnatural Moisturizing Products

You may have heard about the benefits of mineral oils on the scalp. While you want them to hold as much moisture as possible for the optimum look, avoid braid moisturizers that contain mineral oils. Remember, the products you use can contribute to hair breakage or help prevent it.

Instead, your best bet is to use natural oils like almond oil or coconut oil. For a non-greasy moisturizer, you can opt for a natural leave-in conditioner.

Be Gentle on Your Scalp

As you wash your braided scalp, you might be tempted to rub it hard to remove the oil and sweat build-up. But this will only do you more harm than good. Instead, be gentle but thorough in breaking up the dirt and oil combination.

Once you finish washing your braids, dry them properly by squeezing out the water. Don't pull your braids to dry them — pulling increases the pressure on the scalp. Massage the scalp evenly as you apply your favorite hair food and moisturize to ensure the tips and the roots are adequately supplied.

Don’t Tie Up Your Braids All the Time

Constantly holding your hair in an up-do style can compromise the integrity of the hair edges. Keep off styles that make you pull the braids too tightly. Since braids are a protective hairstyle, they should help keep your hair revitalized. This is possible by trying out various styles with your hair for as long as you avoid pulling them while styling.

Don’t Wear Your Braids for Too Long

This is a common braid sin among most women. While it is a protective style, it's not a good idea to wear it for too long, especially if you don't want to go bald. For the sake of your scalp's health and hygiene matters, don't have your braids on for more than eight weeks — six weeks is considered the ideal period. Whether they're twists, dread braid twists, crochet braids, or Bantu knots, having them for months on end can damage your hairline and result in hair breakage.

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Don’t Neglect Your Nighttime Hair Regime

Don't throw caution to the wind at night after doing all you can to maintain your braids in good condition during the day. One good habit you should keep is to wrap your braids at night when going to bed. Using a silk scarf protects the edges and prevents the roots from drying out. It also protects your hair from breakage, keeping the edges looking fresh and well-maintained. 

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 11, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

AARP: “Proven Home Remedies for Common Conditions.”

American Academy of Dermatology Association: “10 REASONS YOUR SCALP ITCHES AND HOW TO GET RELIEF.”

Clinical Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology: “Traction alopecia: the root of the problem.”

International Journal of Cosmetic Science: “Quantifying the impact of braiding and combing on the integrity of natural African hair.”

International Journal of Trichology: “Hair Cosmetics: An Overview.”

John Hopkins Medicine: “Safe Hair Care Spares Hair, Johns Hopkins Dermatologists Report.”

Journal of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery: “Hair braiding (plaiting) and hair extensions: An Underestimated danger.”

Penn Medicine: “Eczema vs. Psoriasis: Similarities, Differences and Treatments.”

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