Extension braids can be great protective styles. Extension braids can be worn in a variety of styles without manipulating your own hair. But, although your own hair is not exposed, it still needs to be cared for while wearing extensions.
Hopefully, everyone is aware that braids should not be done so tightly that they cause headaches, and even worse, traction alopecia. I would also recommend that you give yourself a deep conditioning treatment before getting your hair braided for added protection. Extension braid styles should also be covered with satin/silk scarves at night.
When wearing extension styles you should still have a hair care regimen. Just like loose hair, your hair and scalp still need to be kept clean and well moisturized. Extension hair tends to rob your hair strands of moisture. So while wearing extension braid styles, be sure to keep your hair/scalp moisturized. A spritz bottle filled with water and/or essential oil can be used directly on your scalp and sprayed on your braids as well.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) and/or tea rinses (preferably with a little tea tree, lavender or chamomile oil added) should be used versus astringents like Sea Breeze or Witch Hazel, which dry your scalp. A little ACV or tea rinse with added oils can be put on cotton swabs and dabbed directly on your scalp to refresh and help with dryness/itchiness in between washes.
Extension braid styles should be washed, especially if worn for long periods of time. Clear shampoos, versus cream ones, wash out of extension braids more easily. Again, ACV and hair tea rinses can also be used to get rid of product build-up. If you plan to leave the ACV in your hair, follow with a light essential oil to prevent your hair/scalp from becoming dry.
The method you use to take down your braids is also important. Set aside time to take down your styles. You don’t want to cause damage i.e. breakage because you are rushing to get the braids out. Depending on how many braids you have or the size of the braids, you may even have to set aside a couple of hours over a few days to take your braids down.
After you unbraid each braid, use your fingers to detangle and remove any debris from each unbraided section before wetting or combing to avoid tangles and knots. You may also have to put the unbraided sections into sections to go over again once all of the braids are taken out.
Warning: Never wash your hair before it is fully detangled after taking down your braids, unless you want a tangled massive mat! A mat that will have to be cut out—which would no doubt defeat the purpose of your protective style. Only when your hair is free from tangles and debris should you wet it.
After detangling with your hands first, you can use a combination of conditioner and water, again in a spray bottle, to give your hair some “slip” to detangle further with a wide-tooth comb before washing. I would again recommend that you give yourself a deep conditioner after washing.
Having an extension style hair-care regimen, and following the take-down steps, will help to minimize damage/breakage and ensure that you reap the benefits of your “protective” extension braid styles.
– Laquita Thomas – Banks