I often get asked what my thoughts are on protective styling in braids/twists. Do they thin your hairline? Can braids/twists grow your hair? How long should they be kept in for before they become damaging? etc. The key to successful protective styling in extensions in my opinion boils down to three main things: minimal tension, a happy scalp and frequently moisturising what you can of your own hair.
Here are 10 tips on how to make twists/braids work best for you! Let’s go!!!
A Clean Scalp Pre-Installation
A clean scalp pre-installation is a must! Installing braids on a head of hair with a dirty scalp can lead to a lot of damage caused by excessive itching due to your poor scalp gasping for air! This of course means two things… 1- your hair looks like it has been in for a while because you’ve itched up a fuzz ball and 2- breakage and thinning caused by manipulation
Protein Treatment Please
I always recommend a protein treatment prior to having braids/twists installed. This is to help strengthen and prepare your hair for the weight it’s about to bear! Which leads me onto the next point…
ٖٖFor Relaxed Chics
Growing up my mum would never braid or really style my hair immediately after relaxing it, I didn’t understand why until I grew up and started to care for my own hair. Following a fresh relaxer your hair is very fragile. Soft, sleek and laid … but very fragile! This is due to the relaxer weakening the protein bonds in your hair. If you can hold out a week or two before having your extensions put in then this will give your hair some time to recuperate. You can also use a light protein spritz before and during the installation to help strengthen your strands [Check out what I use below]
Get Vocal & Ensure That Your Extensions Are Not Too Tight
This is one to pay a lot of attention to! Your braids/twists should be secure but not so tight that you feel a headache coming on. If you feel a braid/twist is too tight be vocal about it because hair that is too tight can cause thinning, breakage and even go as far as causing permanent hair loss. Raised bumps and a ripple effect on your scalp are worth looking out for as they indicate your extensions are too tight
Reduce Extension Weight At Your Hairline
Your hairline is where your hair is its most fragile. Check that your braid/twist weight at the front of your hair is lighter than anywhere else. This will ensure that there isn’t too much weight or stress on your hairline
Keep Your Scalp Nourished
Your scalp is extremely exposed when in braids/twists, more so than with any other worn hairstyle. This means it may get dry a lot faster and therefore needs to be kept super duper nourished. Oiling your scalp regularly with a light oil will help to keep it well fed. You can even add a stimulating kick to your oil to encourage growth! [Check out some of products I use below]
Keep Your Hair Moisturised
It’s often thought that because your hair is tucked away within your braids/twists that you cannot moisturise your own hair. Whilst it’s admittedly a lot more difficult to moisturise your hair in extensions, it is still worth spraying your hair as often as you can with a light leave-in conditioner or moisturising spritz so that it at least gets a chance at getting some sort of moisture. Your new growth will thank you for it!
To Wash Or Not To Wash
This one really is about preference. If you find it way too stressful to wash your hair in braids/twists then please do not because you may end up causing more damage then expected! For those who find their scalps cannot go more than a week or two without a wash, then you can dilute your shampoo with water to avoid any build up caused by not being able to fully rinse out the shampoo. A thorough rinse is a must and may mean some extra shower/bath time. The same goes for conditioning, dilute and rinse rinse rinse!
Extra tip: If you suffer from the good old itchy scalp when in braids/twists syndrome then adding a few drops of a menthol based essential oil to your shampoo may help sooth the itching. Eucalyptus essential oil, Peppermint essential oil are a few of my faves!
How Long Should Your Extensions Stay In?
I’m a huge flag waver of the 2 months max installation. My main reasons are your scalp and hair needs to rest! Though your braids/twists may feel a lot light after a week or two of wear, the constant weight from the extensions is not good in the long run. Extensions cause tension so your hair will need a break after about 2 months in those bad boys!
Which Products To Use?
There is no strictly set list of products that are to be used on extensions, most everyday products will be suitable for your extensions but the things to stay away from are heavy products and anything that will cause quick build up on your hair and scalp. A light spray for your braids and new growth and a light oil for your scalp should have your hair smiling from ear to ear!
My Personal Twist/Braid Regimen
– Oil scalp daily with Jane Carter Scalp Nourishing Serum –
– Lightly spritz new growth and braids every other day with Jane Carter Revitalising Leave-in Conditioner –
– Lightly spritz braids with protein spray once a week: Aphogee Keratin & Green Tea Restructurizer –
– No itching just pressing! –
I personally do not wash my hair in twists/braids, I do if wearing a weave but find access to my scalp in braids/twists means I can better care for my scalp. Plus I only keep twists/braids in for a month which is the absolute max I can go without washing my hair.
What other tips do you have for braid/twist wearers that have helped you?