Braids. We love to get them, either during the winter for some extra body warmth, during the summer to make vacations easier, or anytime we simply get tired of doing our own hair. But wondering what to do with your hair after taking out braids six weeks later? Keep reading for five tips that will keep your hair healthy post protective styling.
1. Finger Detangle
The first step to making sure your hair remains strong after taking out braids is to gently finger detangle your hair. I know your gut instinct is to take a comb and work through all the knots, tangles, and shed hair, but chances are you’ll end up ripping out perfectly good and healthy hair in an effort to get out all the kinks and shed hair. Finger detangling is better for your hair (I explain why here), and it’s not that hard! After removing each braid, gently separate the roots to loosen buildup, then finger detangle as you wash.
2. Clarify Your Scalp
People often forget to clarify and detox their scalp after a protective style, perhaps because it was the part of their hair they paid the most attention to during the previous 6+ weeks. However, our scalps have been working overtime trying to keep the rest of our natural hair moisturized, and are likely full of oils, both natural and added, that we used in effort to relieve dryness, itchiness, and flakiness. To clarify your scalp, choose an intense shampoo (avoid things like curl cleansers and co-washes as those aren’t strong enough), or you can even use an ACV or other scalp rinse. If you’d rather not wash immediately (my hair always looks AMAZING after taking out braids), you can use this dry shampoo to hold you over for a few days.
3. Deep Condition
Your hair hasn’t gotten any love for 6-8 weeks, and you think a quick co-wash will leave it moisturized? Girl, please. Use the thickest, most luxurious deep conditioner you own, sit under a steamer or just a shower cap, and restore the moisture to your hair that it’s been missing for weeks while it was braided up. These are some of my favorites:
If you didn’t do so before your protective style, your hair is most likely ready for a trim immediately after keeping it hidden for several weeks. Trimming is an essential part of healthy natural hair, so don’t hesitate to trim as needed. If you’re not confident in your scissor skills, please head to a professional, but if you’re in a pinch you can try to trim your hair on your own using one of these three methods.
5. Let Your Hair Breathe
This means not to go ahead and reinstall braids in 2 days, or worse, the same day! When our hair is braided, though it is not being manipulated frequently, it is still under stress by the weight, friction, and synthetic nature of the extensions. Even though hair is dead, it needs access to water and air, and needs to regroup after being tucked under braids. Wear your hair proudly in it’s natural state for at least two weeks – whether a wash and go, twistout, or a pretty updo – before reinstalling braids. Or you can do another low maintenance protective style like a low bun, wigs, or a puff (easy on the edges though!)
There you have it – five things to do after taking out your braids to keep your hair healthy!
Wondering how to wash your hair to reduce breakage? Check out this video!