Thinking about getting braids but worried about the headache, both before and after? Here are five tips for having a pleasant, successful, and stress-free hair braiding experience, especially with natural hair!
1. Find a Braider Who Comes Verbally Recommended
Unless you have time to waste and money to blow, you’re probably going to spend at least 4 hours getting your hair braiding, and you’re going to keep them in for at least 4 weeks. Unlike a simple blow out or flat twist out, braids are a serious matter, and you should only go to a hair braider that comes recommended to ensure a happy hair braiding experience. It’s very best to find a braider that has braided – wait for it – not your favorite local blogger’s hair – but your grandma/cousin’s/next-door neighbor’s hair. A hair braider is when you need the truest of true recommendations, and who better to tell you than your homies.
2. Use Hair You’ve Used Before
This doesn’t work if it’s the first time you’re braiding your hair, but I’ve heard of a few too many stories of people having bad scalp reactions to braiding extensions – btw if you have a sensitive scalp and seem to react to any hair you use, use an ACV rinse. Resist the urge to buy hair just because it’s on sale when your go to brand x is sitting right there next to it. Different makes of hair come in different lengths and textures so for the happiest braiding experience, use a brand of hair you’re familiar with.
3. Pick the Right Kind of Braids
Nothing makes me more upset than seeing a beautiful set of cornrows from behind and then seeing the wearer has no edges! Like my goodness my friends, take care of your edges first! Needless to say, cornrows are not optimal for someone struggling with weak edges; long, jumbo braids aren’t the best bet for someone with fine hair (all that weight will pull at yours); and nobody who wants to have hair at the end of the day should ever ever get micros.
4. Take Control Over Your Own Hair
Braids and similar protective styles differ from other hair appointments because the stylist is often not a specialist in natural hair care, but in styling. Take some matters into your own hands by detangling your hair yourself, speaking up if your braids are too tight, and holding your hair at the root if your head starts to be pulled too far, to protect your edges. While you’re paying for a gorgeous style, you should also keep in the back of your mind that your hair is underneath and should be protected first and foremost.
5. Make Yourself Useful
Whether it’s by showing the braider the exact style you want, helping hold and section off hair, or just sitting without fidgeting too much, make yourself useful while you’re getting your hair braided. Not only does this help the braider move faster, but s/he may even like you at the end of the day and offer you a discount, either on the current service or the next one!
BONUS: Take pain meds
Girl, go ahead and take some Tylenol at hour 3 of the braiding day, and some more before bed! All the tips above may limit some emotional and physical pain, but at the end of the day you’re essentially tying up your hair into 50-200+ tight as hell sections so acetaminophen or ibuprofen is more or less a must!