Wearing box braids is a lot of fun and gives you an edgy look which I LOVE! I love the styles and hair accessories you can play up your braids with. However, wearing box braids is not as basic or simple as you may think, braids come with a lot of responsibilities and failing to take them on could lead to damaged hair.
So I’m going to share with you how I maintained my braids to keep them looking fresh while keeping my hair underneath healthy. I put together some DOs and DON’Ts not only for the good of your braids but most importantly, for the health of your hair and scalp.
Don’t forget that regardless of what season it is, when your hair is in a protective style you want to keep your scalp clean. A clean scalp is a healthy scalp and a healthy scalp will bring forth healthy hair.
A good moisturizing method that best worked to moisturize my braids extensions is to use a water-based spritz followed by sealing with an oil. This method allows for sufficient moisture without contributing to meshing, locking, or severe product buildup which I learned in the 3rd week and as a result my hair starting meshing and locking.
Lubricate and protect your scalp with a natural oil or butter 2-3 times a week or as needed. Good options are Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter reconstructive elixir, extra virgin olive or coconut oil, but if you have dry/itchy/flakey scalps then you will require a tea tree & peppermint essential oil infusion for maximum benefit. Try to avoid grease or petroleum based products.
It is very important that you keep your hair well moisturized as dry hair can lead to breakage. You don’t need to add a lot of products, a simple braid spray will do. A good one I tried is BB African Royale Braid & Extensions Sheen Spray. The first two ingredients are water and glycerin so it keeps your hair really moisturized and it contains Tea Tree Oil, Ginseng, Protein and a bunch of other stuff that is good for your hair & scalp. I usually apply it once or twice a day and I’m good.
Like our skin, the hair also needs moisturizers to keep the skin pliable and to stimulate hair growth. Use natural oils like jojoba oil as these have a high content of Vitamin E, which is a great moisturizers and helps keep the skin supple. Shea butter is also another great option to keep the scalp moisturized as well as conditioned. Dry scalp can lead to many problems like itching and flaking.
Wrap your hair in a satin or silk head scarf nightly to prevent slumber induced frizz and lent gathering in the hair. Satin or silk material also aids and keeping tresses well moisturized, as opposed to cotton which absorbs all of your good product out your hair
Spritz your scalp and hair with a water based moisturizer 2-3 times a week minimum or daily as needed. Excellent options are Shea Moisture Curl and Shine Mist or Shea Radiance Moisture Millk.
moisturize your braids. Remember by doing this you are not only keeping your braids looking shiny and neat but also moisturizing your thirsty strands trapped in the extensions.
Oil your scalp. Dry scalp is also everything but great for healthy hair growth.
pull your hair up in ponytails all the time. This will only cause tension to your hair and temporary to permanent loss of hair in different parts of the scalp (especially the edges of course). Pulling and tugging at the hair too much could also lead to the same consequences.
use braid sprays that contain all kinds of non water soluble (like cones) and drying ingredients. Remember, your hair is also going to get a dose of it and some sprays can dry your hair out if you are not careful to read the ingredients.
Put anything in your braids you are not sure you are going to be able to get out before taking out the braids. For example, swimming in chlorine water and exposing your hair to chemicals that require clarifying shampoos. If you do not properly cleanse your hair, these chemicals will stay trapped in your hair and cause damage.
Where your braids for too long. Too long is not a definite period of time instead it depends on how well you take care of your braids and hair and the manner with which they were done. If you have XL box braids, I would advice not leaving them for more than two months to avoid hair loss. Smaller ones should also not be left for anything anymore that three months. Beyond this time frame, it’s seriously time to let go of your braids start giving your hair some TLC. Many ladies don’t really suffer breakage directly from how they take care of their braids but the breakage they experience is mostly a consequence of leaving their braids in for too long. If you love box braids so much, try leaving at least a few weeks in between each installation to take care of your hair.
Finally, DO have fun with your braids. You won’t have them for long so explore and rock them nothing less than fiercely and CURLFIDENT!!