Having your hair braided is time consuming and can be expensive, but does allow you an easy-care, low-maintenance style while the braids are in place. Braids can be natural or created from hair extensions, and may look quite casual or formal, depending on the style you choose. The right care for your braids will help them last and look their best.
Common braid styles include cornrows along the scalp, individual braids or microbraids. While these styles are commonly done on African-American or biracial hair, they can work for any hair type. Individual braids and microbraids last longer than cornrows, and are easier to care for over time. Microbraids offer the most styling options since they rely on hair extensions and can be done on short or longer hair.
Caring for braided hair requires a mild shampoo or a spray shampoo specially designed for braided hair. If your braids have loose hair at the ends, a gentle conditioner keeps the hair soft. Use a moisturizing braid spray after you wash your hair to replenish moisture lost during washing. Rinse your braids and moisturize after workouts or in between shampoos.
Dilute a mild shampoo in plenty of water. Use your fingertips to wash your scalp thoroughly, removing dirt, oil and debris. Rinse well. Use a conditioner if your braids have loose ends and comb through the ends of your braids in the shower. Pat or blot your braids dry, but do not rub them. Apply a moisturizing braid spray or leave-in conditioner to keep your braids smooth and soft.
Make sure that your braids are dry before going to bed. Wet braided hair may mildew during the night. Even when dry, special care is needed to keep your braids and hair in good condition. You can opt to cover your braids in a satin scarf at night or sleep on a satin pillowcase. Tying up or covering your braids may keep them looking neat longer and reduce loose hairs.
Braids are typically an easy-to-wear, comfortable style, but done too tightly may cause breakage, especially if your hair is delicate. Microbraids add human or synthetic hair extensions to create long, fine braids and can weigh down your natural hair, potentially causing breakage at the hairline. A skilled stylist can help you choose the braid style that is right for your hair, whether it is natural, relaxed or transitioning.