Using Braids for Hair Growth
I've had many people email me asking me about using braids as a method to accelerate hair growth. While braids won't necessarily accelerate hair growth, they can be used to help maintain length.
Things to Know Before You Get Braids
- No matter what your hair length, you can benefit from braids. Most people tend to think braids are only for people with short hair but that is not true. Those of you with long hair like to take a break from your hair once in a while especially when going on a beach vacation!
- Do not get braids as soon as you relax. Wait at least a couple of weeks to have some of your natural texture available for the braids. This will make it easier to attach the braids.
- Make sure your hair is clean and conditioned prior to getting braids.
Choosing a Braider is Like Choosing a Stylist
- Read my article on choosing a hair stylist and follow these tips to find a stylist who can do braids. Even more important is to find a recommended braider. It will be especially helpful if you find someone who has gotten braids from the same braider several times. Check out their hair and their hair line/temples. This can alert you as to whether the braider is caring for their client’s hair line or braiding too tightly.
- Again, your braids should be secure but you should not feel severe discomfort. It is normal to feel a little uncomfortable the first day or so. But if it is extreme, your braids are too tight. Ensure that there is no unnecessary pressure on your scalp.
- Do not depend on the braider to do what's best for your hair. Speak up if something makes you uncomfortable.
- The best braids are large braids or medium size individual braids. They are easy to care for and tend to last a long time. I do not recommend micro-braids. Many people have issues with these such as their hair thinning out as well as additional stress on the hair and scalp.
- If your hair is short, it is ok to have the ends burned to seal them. In this way, the ends are actually the fake hair and not your real hair. If your hair is long, make sure you are watching the braider so that she/he does not try to seal your ends with a flame! They'll be burning YOUR hair! Instead, they can just use satin bands the same color as your hair to keep the ends secure.
Maintaining Your Braids
- Daily, you should use a mist to keep your braids, hair, and scalp moisturized. You can buy these at a beauty supply store under the name "Braid Spray” or you can make your own by using distilled water, natural oil , jojoba oil, grape seed, almond, etc.), and a lovely scented essential oil like lavender. Your hair will smell great and this will keep your scalp from becoming itchy.
- It is not necessary to shampoo your braids, the braid spray should be enough. You can use tea tree oil to cleanse your scalp if it is very itchy. If you go swimming, you can rinse your braids and condition them remembering to rinse completely before letting them air dry. Just like hair, you don't want to dry your braids with a towel. That will only lead to frizz. Use a microfiber towel and gently squeeze out excess moisture.
Taking Out Your Braids
- When it's time to remove your braids, remember that it will take you a while. So get ready to spend several hours removing them in the most gentle way possible.
- Do not be disturbed if you see clumps of hair. Just remember that your hair generally sheds 100 strands on average per day. Think of the length of your hair and how many days you've had your braids. Then you should realize that the amount of hair clumps you see is normal.
- Most importantly, gently detangle your hair BEFORE you shampoo it. I cannot stress this enough. So many times, I've been told that someone ended up with matted hair after removing their braids and proceeding directly to shampooing it. You first want to comb through your hair to get rid of all the extra shredded hair just like you do when you shampoo your hair on a regular basis.
- You may also have a lot of new growth and find your hair somewhat tangly. This is the perfect time to give yourself a deep conditioning treatment to soften up your hair. After this, you should give your hair and scalp a break for at least a week or two before getting a relaxer touch-up. It is ok to smooth out the roots with a flat iron if necessary. However, your scalp may be feeling pretty sensitive from the removal of the braids to then immediately get a relaxer touch-up. I can just imagine how awful it might burn!
As you can see, getting braids is a way of giving your hair a break but it doesn't completely mean that you should ignore your hair. In fact, there are extra things that you should consider. These are especially important if you are a newbie with getting braids. I hope these tips will help you in deciding whether or not to get braids and the things you should take into consideration.