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FEATURES Sep 25 2012 8:22AM

How To Maintain Natural Hair While Wearing Braid Extensions

by Hey Fran Hey

Braid extensions can be a super-cute protective styling option for those of us transitioning from relaxed to natural, looking to retain more length, in need of a beauty break or just looking for a fresh fashion fix. It is important, however, to keep in mind that your real hair still needs to be taken care of underneath! Extension braids can be very drying, especially on the scalp area. With proper care, you will be able to retain all of your new growth once the braids are removed. It would be unfortunate to end up with less hair than you started with due to neglect. Here are a few quick and vital tips on maintaining your real natural hair while wearing extension braids.
To help maintain scalp circulation and keep it buildup free, rinsing with raw apple cider vinegar and water is recommended. You can either pour it on a cotton swab and dab through the parts or fill a spritz bottle with the mixture and spray all over the scalp area. Leave it on for 20-30 min before rinsing with warm water. Don’t forget to use light, all-natural shampoos that are nutrient rich to cleanse the braids. Your real hair, within the braids, needs to be cleansed and buildup free as well.
The next vital steps are maintaining a hydrated scalp and strands. A spritz bottle filled with a light essential oil such as jojoba or sweet almond oil can be extremely moisturizing after cleansing! Spray the scalp and braids lightly to replenish stripped natural oils.
Deep Conditioning
Either your favorite deep conditioner or a DIY mixture of Jamaican Black Castor Oil and Jojoba Oil can be applied to the scalp and braids for 30 minutes. Not only will it replenish any lost moisture but Jamaican Black Castor Oil is also an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal that will ensure optimum scalp health and circulation. Additionally, the fatty acids are also very healing for scalp ailments such as dandruff.
It would be extremely drying to cleanse the scalp and braids after every workout. Especially for those who workout every day! You would end up with a shortened life span for the braided style. To help buy some time before washes, a scalp massage of peppermint essential oils and jojoba oil will help break up the salt produced from excessive sweating as well as minimizing odor. Rinse with warm water after massaging.

Nighttime Routine
It’s best to wrap the braids into a high bun with the ends tucked in, to reduce breakage. A satin pillowcase will also help combat breakage as well as tugging, dryness and frizz.
Take Down Process
This is the most crucial step in braid extension maintenance. Many have had to cut their hair off due to misunderstanding the proper steps of the take down process. When removing the braids, coat your fingertips with an oil to help soften the hair and help restore lost moisture as you go along. Once fully removed, do not jump into the shower and wet your hair. That is a common mistake that causes severe matting! Instead, coat the hair with a moisturizing oil like coconut, olive or avocado oil and begin to finger-detangle section by section. A spritz bottle with rich conditioner and a small amount of water can also be used. Once the hair is fully moisturized and detangled, it is best to deep condition for 30 minutes to an hour before cleansing. This will help soften the hair, resulting in minimized breakage and hair loss in the shower.


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