Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Braids + Transitioning

I have been receiving some questions about braids and transitioning, so I thought that it would be a good idea to publish a post. When transitioning, I think it is very important to wear protective hair styles (i.e. roller wraps, twists, braids, etc). The less heat and stress you can put on your hair while trying to grow out a relaxer, the better you will be. But with that said, exercise caution when deciding to go with braids. Below are some things I think you should consider.
  1. Experience/Quality - I know we all love a bargain but don't let the recession lead you to an inexperienced or sub par braider. Do some homework and go to someone who knows what they are doing. If it means paying more, it is worth it in the long run. Sometimes you get what you pay for!
  2. Tension - Do not and I repeat, do NOT let someone braid your hairline and edges tight. Yes, you may have to get them touched up sooner, but at least you will still have them! Once you start to lose your edges, trying to get them to fill back in can take years. I think getting the tension right is hard to do. Too tight, your head hurts and you can lose hair and too loose, the braids fall out. This is why you need to find an experienced braider who knows exactly what they are doing.
  3. Frequency - Give your hair a break and don't constantly keep taking out braids and putting them right back in. After you take your braids out, try not to mess with your hair too much. If you can, let it rest for at least 8 hours (overnight). I would follow with a really good deep conditioner and maybe protein treatment. Don't rake through your hair and don't freak out if you feel like you are losing a lot of hair. Keep in mind that you haven't been coming your hair for weeks!
  4. Scalp Health - Do not neglect your scalp just because you have braids. I know that when I got "lacing" (the braids that really look like hair), I couldn't wash my hair, because they would slip out, but that didn't stop me from cleansing my scalp. Whether you use witch hazel or some type of astringent cocktail, use something!
  5. Maintenance - Just because you have braids does not mean that you can simply do nothing. Protect your hair at night by wrapping it in a silk scarf or wearing a silk bonnet.
  6. Stay away from the flame and scissors - This is just me talking, but in my opinion, don't let the braider cut the pieces of hair sticking out up and down the braid, because that is probably your real hair! The point of getting braids is to protect your hair, not destroy it. Also stay away from the fire - need I say more?
  7. Take them out - Do not leave your braids in forever. Not only does it look bad, you are putting a lot of strain on your hair.
Again, these are my thoughts, not sure if they are right or wrong, but this is what I have learned from experience. You know your hair the best, so really think carefully before sitting for 6+ hours to get your hair braided. Done properly, I do believe that braids are a great protective hair style. Braids can be a lot of work and cost a pretty penny, so be prepared to invest the time and resources for it to be done right.
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