Braids can be a great option for protective styling, especially if you have a relaxer and are trying to stretch your relaxers out. Even though braids allow your hair to rest, and are very low maintenance, it's still important that you take care of your REAL hair, even before the braids are installed. Remember, your real hair and its healthiness is the top priority. Here are five things you should consider doing before getting your hair braided.
1. Clarify/Deep Cleanse- Clarifying your hair will allow you to get all dirt, oil, product buildup, and residue off of the hair. This gives your hair a clean slate and preps it for braids. Be sure to use one like this that is sulfate-free and paraben-free.
2. Moisturize- After you deep cleanse, you want to start adding moisture to your hair. This is where the moisturizing shampoo comes in. It still cleanses your hair but adds moisture at the time. Again, only use sulfate-free and paraben-free shampoos (like this) so they won't strip your hair of its natural oils.
3. Deep condition- After shampooing, deep condition your hair with a good deep conditioner. This one has lots of oils that penetrate the hair and leave it very soft and completely moisturized. Deep conditioning helps reduce breakage that can come from the hair being dry. If you plan on having your hair braided for two weeks or more, deep conditioning is absolutely necessary.
4. Add leave-in- Even after you rinse your deep conditioner, it is also good to apply a leave-in conditioner. A water-based leave-in conditioner (like this one) will give your hair an extra layer of moisture and will help your hair to be more manageable. It also helps your hair with tangles!
5. Seal in moisture- After your hair is has been thoroughly moisturized, you want to seal the moisture inside the hair. This moisture cream helps, especially on the ends and the edges where the hair is the most fragile. This also helps your hair reduce breakage because it retains all of the moisture you just put in your hair. That way, when you take your braids down, your hair will not be dry and brittle.
The goal of braids is to give your hair a break and to help keep it healthy. Hence the name "protective style". Doing the things listed will help your hair stay healthy while it is braided up.
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