One of my favorite protective styles is knotless braids. I get them every year around the summertime for three reasons. One, they help me to stretch my relaxer. Relaxer stretching is crucial for having healthy relaxed hair. Having braids is like putting in the "cheat code" when you are having a hard time stretching your relaxer on your own. Two, they are the perfect style to have to give your hair a break from heat styling. And three, they are an excellent vacation hairstyle because they can get wet without ruining your entire hairstyle and having to spend your vacation time doing your hair.
While braids are a very low-maintenance hairstyle, they are not a NO-maintenance hairstyle. Many women get braids and literally forget about their hair. Although this is tempting to do, this is a no-no. Your hair still needs to be cared for, even while it's braided. Don't worry, the care that your hair receives in the braids will hardly take any time at all! Today I am going to share with you how to take care of your braids by giving you my routine that I personally use every two weeks while my hair is braided.
Step 1.- Shampoo using a deep cleansing shampoo. Using a deep cleansing shampoo (I prefer this one or this one) will remove all buildup and residue off the hair. It is not necessary to shampoo the entire length of the braids unless your hair is the same length as your braids. After all, the goal is not to keep the synthetic braid hair healthy, only your own REAL hair. Plus, you don't want to waste any good shampoo on some $1.99 hair!
Step 2.- Condition. Conditioning will help to keep your real hair soft and moisturized even while it is braided. This will prevent breakage from occurring when you take the braids down. Again, only apply the conditioner from the roots of your hair until you get to approximately where the ends of your hair are. Avoid conditioning the entire length of the braid unless your hair is the same length as the braids. Here is a conditioner that I recommend.
Step 3.-Apply Leave-In Conditioner. Leave-in conditioner is a great asset when you have braids. I recommend spraying them 4-7 times a week to give them some extra moisture, especially at the roots and towards the ends of your real hair. For the roots of the hair, it will help keep your new growth soft and avoid matting and tangling when taking the braids down. For the ends of the hair, it will help keep your ends from splitting. I prefer a liquid-based conditioner (like this one) instead of the cream-based one in order for you to get better coverage and to avoid too much product build-up.
Up until this point we have gone over what to do with your hair while shampooing. I recommend shampooing your braids every two weeks. This will prevent itching and dandruff and will keep your scalp nice and clean. Warning, when you shampoo your braids they will get very heavy! I suggest putting them up in a bun and allow them to air dry. You could also sit under a hooded dryer and allow them to dry that way as well. Before the dry though, here are two more steps to add to the routine.
Step 4. Oil your scalp. If you use a really good oil on your scalp (like this one) you can help your hair to grow a bit faster while it's braided. The oil also helps to prevent dandruff and helps circulate blood flow in the scalp. I love oiling my scalp while it is braided because it is so easy to do. The hair is already parted so you can literally apply it directly to your scalp instead of getting it all on your hair. Also, you don't have to only oil your scalp on shampoo day. You can do it every day if you want, especially if there are areas where you have thinning or baldness.
Step 5-Apply foam wrap. Foam wrap (like this one) is a setting lotion in the form of a foam. It is my secret weapon to helping keep my braids from looking old. All you need to do is simply apply foam wrap to the braids, tie them down with your satin scarf (like this one), and wait for it to dry before removing the scarf. Once you take the scarf off you'll see that your braids look nice and neat with no frizz.
You may be asking how often you have to do these steps. I recommend doing them at least once per week so they can look as fresh as possible. You can oil your scalp daily if you choose to. I do suggest oiling your scalp in the morning vs at night to avoid your scarf soaking up all of the oil instead of your scalp. The great thing about having braids is that the maintenance is truly a minimum. You can shampoo them while you are in the shower and let them air dry while you Netflix and chill! They are definitely a staple with me and one of my top go-to summer styles.
Check out the ToyaJTV video below on how I take care of my braids. Be sure to subscribe to the channel while you are there!