After installation and maintenance
- The hair in braids needs to be maintained as much as the hair when it is unbraided!
This took me a while to understand, but hair in box braids must be taken care of as much as, not less than, hair without the extensions.
- The scalp needs to be kept clean and moisturised. Braids can be very drying to hair. This can be done with a water spritz mixed with an essential oil. The best moisturiser for both skin and hair, is water, pure and simple. My mix was 3/4 water, about 1/8th extra virgin olive oil and about an 1/8th leave in conditioner and a few drops of tea tree oil. This can be sprayed on the braids as well.
- Apple cider vinegar ( I mix 2 tablespoons ACV to 2 cups water) and tea rinses are great for cleansing the scalp as well. A mixture of ACV or black/green tea can be swabbed on the scalp with cotton buds to keep the scalp refreshed and to help with itchyness. Braids need to be washed though, especially when kept for a long period of time.
- You can lightly oil the scalp to help with dryness. I like natural oils. Castor oil is a heavy oil but it has restorative powers, I like using a mixture of castor and extra virgin olive oils on my scalp. Castor Oil is also an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal that aids in scalp health and circulation. Giving yourself a head massage with the oils would also aid in circulation.
- At night, try using a satin scarf or pillowcase. I bought satin material and made pillowcases to sleep on. Cotton and linen headscarves and pillowcases absorb the moisture in your hair and the rubbing of hair strands on them can cause breakage. Satin scarves and pillowcases minimise this.
- I am removing my box braids soon, after six weeks and this too needs to be done with care to reap the benefits of the protective style. If a lot of hair is broken and lost at this stage, there would have been no point to using box braids to protect the hair.
- When removing braids, extra care, patience and gentleness must be exercised to prevent hair tangles and unnecessary breakage. Time has to be set aside for this to be done properly.
- While unbraiding each braid, use fingers coated with a little oil (castor, coconut, extra virgin olive oil or any other natural oil) to remove any knots, tangles and accumulated dirt before wetting the hair. Never wash hair that is not detangled, it will become an even bigger tangled nightmare.
- After detangling with fingers, conditioner or more oil can be added to the hair for slip and moisture section by section. Then detangle some more with fingers or a wide tooth comb and make sure hair is tangle free.
- Then hair can be deep conditioned, washed, moisturised, dried and styled.
I am doing the crucial step of removal and will report back with the results.
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