As summer comes to an end and fall weather approaches, many natural hair wearers and transitioners opt to wear extension braids as protective styles.
Extension braids can be great protective styles. Braids can be put in a variety of styles without manipulating your own hair. But although your own hair is not exposed, it still needs to be cared for while wearing extensions.
Braids should not be put in too tight that they cause headaches. Tight braids not only cause headaches, but can cause irreversible hair breakage and traction alopecia.
Deep conditioning treatments before getting your hair braided are great for added protection. Just like loose hair styles extension braid styles should also be covered with satin/silk scarves at night.
When wearing extension styles you should have a hair care regimen as well. Event though you are wearing extension braids, your hair and scalp still need to be kept clean and well moisturized.
Extension hair tends to rob your hair strands of moisture, so while wearing extension braid styles be sure to keep your hair/scalp moisturized.
A spritz bottle filled with water and/or essential oil can be used directly on your scalp and sprayed on your braids as well, be sure to follow with an oil such as olive or rice bran to seal in the moisture.
Extension braid styles should be washed, especially if worn for long periods of time. Clear shampoo versus cream ones, wash out of extension braids more easily.
In between washes apple cider vinegar, ACV and/or tea rinses mixed with a little tea tree, lavender or chamomile oil should be used versus alcohol-based astringents which dry out your hair and scalp.
ACV or tea rinses with added oils can be put on cotton swabs and dabbed directly on your scalp to refresh it and help with dryness/itchiness in between washes.
ACV and hair tea rinses poured directly over your hair and scalp can also be used to get rid of dirt and product build-up.
If you plan to leave the ACV in your hair versus rinsing it out, again follow with a light essential oil such as rice bran oil to prevent your hair/scalp from becoming dry.
The method you use to take down your braids is also important. Set aside time to take down your styles. You don’t want to cause damage i.e. breakage because you are rushing to get the braids out.
Depending on how many braids you have or the size of the braids, you may even have to set aside a couple of hours over a few days to take them down.
After you unbraid each braid, use your fingers to detangle and remove any debris from each unbraided section before wetting or combing to avoid tangles and knots.
You may also have to put the unbraided sections into mini sections and go over the sections again once all of the braids are taken out.
Warning: Never wash your hair before it is fully detangled after taking down your braids, unless you want a tangled massive mat.
Most likey once your hair is in a massive mat the mat will have to be cut out - which would no doubt defeat the purpose of your protective style.
Therefore only when your hair is free from tangles and debris should you wet it.
After detangling with your hands first, you can use a combination of conditioner and water, again in a spray bottle, to give your hair some ‘slip’ to detangle further with a wide tooth comb before washing.
Again a deep conditioner after washing will also be helpful.
Having an extension style hair care regimen and following the above take down steps will help minimize damage/breakage and ensure that you reap the benefits of your ‘protective’ extension braid styles.