Rocking box braids this Summer or thinking about getting a set? I’ve had mine in for about 2 and a half months now and plan to keep them in for at least another seven weeks. In order to keep braids in for this long it requires some maintenance to avoid looking like a hot mess, and having your hair knot up. You have to know how to maintain your box braids while keeping your own hair healthy. Let me share with you how I’ve been maintaining my braids to keep them looking fresh while keeping my hair underneath healthy.
First of all you must periodically retouch your braids around the perimeter to keep them looking fresh and to keep your edges from breaking, especially for longer , thicker braids which are usually heavier. Every 2-3 weeks should be sufficient enough and remember not to braid too tight. Since I plan to keep my braids in longer than three months I decided to retouch my entire head in sections at the two month mark, it took me about 2 weeks doing small sections every few days. The picture above shows my new growth and how the braids looked when retouched. If I allowed them to grow out for four months without retouching they would be hanging off my head which can cause breakage. When retouching, ensure that your hair is well moisturized. You can use new hair which is easier or you can just take a loose each braid to redo (as I did) which takes much longer. You may find that your hair is a little tangled with product build up and/or dirt where the braid was originally knotted. Simply detangle the knot with a fine tooth comb starting from the base and working your way up until you can comb through the section of hair freely, then rebraid.
Speaking of moisture, it is very important that you keep your hair well moisturized as dry hair can lead to breakage. You don’t need to add a lot of products, a simple braid spray will do. My favorite is African Royale BRX Braid & Extensions Sheen Spray. The first two ingredients are water and glycerin so it keeps your hair really moisturized and it contains Tea Tree Oil, Ginseng, Protein and a bunch of other stuff that is good for your hair & scalp. I usually apply it once or twice a day and I’m good.
Keep your scalp and braids clean. Now I am almost ashamed to admit that I usually never wash my braids as I keep them in for less than two months most of the time and it doesn’t bother me. This time around, when I reached the two month mark my scalp begin to itch really bad and my braids started to feel sticky and a little heavy. I knew that if I planned to leave my braids in for much longer without tearing up my scalp that I would have to do something so I decided to wash my braids. Note that this is for synthetic hair braids… I do not suggest washing human hair braids as they will swell, tangle and look old. You can use a dry shampoo instead which can also be used for synthetic braids in lieu of washing. For washing my braids my shampoo of choice is Fantasia Tea Tree Naturals Shampoo which contains Tea Tree Oil and Aloe Vera. It really gives a good cleaning while removing any product build up and dandruff, I usually use it to clarify my hair. It tingles a bit while washing making my scalp feel really good. I dilute it with water to make it easier to wash out. In the shower I let water run through my braids to wet them and then apply the diluted shampoo to my scalp and give a good scrub with my fingertips. Then I put my hair under the shower to allow the shampoo to cleanse my braids while rinsing out. One cleansing is usually good enough. I also really like the SheaMoisture African Black Soap Shampoo and Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo. I towel dry my hair, apply my braid spray and then put my hair in my bonnet to dry completely overnight while I sleep. Tying up your hair at night is very important to keep your braids from getting frizzy or catching lint. Since mine are so long I put them in a loose bun and put on a big satin bonnet to sleep.
To keep your scalp fresh in between washings and to relieve an irritated and itchy scalp you can put some Sea Breeze for Sensitive Skin in a spray bottle and spray the scalp. And that’s all folks, that’s how to maintain your braids. See here for ideas on how to style your braids.