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Lupita Nyong'o remembers hair braiding nightmare, learning to fix her own braids

Everyone can't braid hair. Some people can do the basics, and others are braiding experts. But then there are those who should stay as far away from another's person's hair as humanly possible when it comes to styling. And in the case of Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o, she's dealt with both "parts."

Singer Alicia Keys attends the 2010 Keep A Child Alive's Black Ball at the Hammerstein Ballroom on September 30, 2010 in New York City.
Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
Lupita Nyong'o receives the 2014 Maui Film Festival Rainmaker Award at the 2014 Maui Film Festival at Wailea on June 7, 2014 in Wailea, Hawaii.
Photo by Andrew Goodman

In a recent Vogue video, Nyong'o details how much she hated a braiding style she was given at a New York African hair salon, who taught her how to braid hair, why she thinks braiding hair is so intimate, and what her braiding specialties are: cornrows, box braids and twists.

While braiding hair is a financial win for those who can do it well (and those who trick people into thinking they can), Nyong'o was too soft-hearted to charge. She also speculates in the video about the differences between braiding European-style hair versus thicker hair types from those of African- or African-American descent: braiding loosely versus braiding tightly. Check out the video (to the left) for details.

Braiding tips

Anyone who has had their hair braided (whether with artificial hair or all hair growing from their roots) can specify just how snug they want those braids to be. In order for the style to last, there must be a grip on the braids. But be careful with braiding too tightly, and speak up immediately so the braiding stylist knows your "say uncle" level of pain. Spending hundreds of dollars on hair braiding only to be in too much discomfort to enjoy it is not worth the money. And if hair is braided only to put somebody else's hair on top of it, that makes unraveling the style even more tedious.

The longevity of braids lasting should never affect a decent hairline or pull hair out instead of helping hair to grow. Add hair oil as needed for drier, thicker hair types. And regardless of how popular it may be to use comb teeth or a comb parting tool to scratch at the scalp, be very careful with this. Open pores, including from the scalp, can lead to infections. Washing and conditioning hair (or even dry conditioners if all else fails) should trump scratching hair before it's too unbearable to stand.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest black hair & hair health entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Black Hair & Health channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews.

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