4C hair is one of the most difficult hairs to manage and grow, which is why putting it in a protective style is highly desired. One such style is braids. Braids range from microbraids, box braids, faux locs, and crotchet braids. Braids are often the most ideal form of protective hairstyles for most African Americans due to their simplicity and versatility when it comes to styling and caring for the hair.
To grow 4c hair in braids, you need to take care of your braided hair the same way that you would your natural hair. This means that you need to moisturize it, keep it clean, and avoid manipulating it too much. Simply put, do not neglect your hair when in braids.
For starters, make sure that your braids are installed properly. Avoid extra tight braids, extra small, or extra heavy ones. If your braids are causing you a headache, that means they are too tight, and you should probably take them out as soon as possible. While some people choose to have their braids on tight for longevity, remember that temporary styles should not compromise the overall health of your hair.
Avoid extra small braids because this means that the hairdresser will have to take small sizes/strands of your hair. And when extensions are added, the weight might be too much for the strands, which can cause breakage and overall weakening of your hair. The same goes for using extra heavy extensions that pull and tag on your hair.
Also, when having your braids installed, be careful about your edges. It is advisable to avoid braiding them since they are delicate, and tugging and pulling can weaken them, leading to breakage. You can opt to gel down your edges rather than risk braiding and losing them.
Begin with A Clean Head and Make sure it Stays That Way
Before braiding your hair, make sure that you start with clean hair and scalp. Cleaning your hair and scalp before braiding ensures that your braids stay clean, do not have buildup, don’t get itchy, or have no dandruff.
Make sure not to braid your hair while wet since the extensions are likely to pull on your hair when it’s in a weak state and cause breakage. Therefore, make sure that your hair is dry by giving it a day or two before braiding. Also, you can use dry shampoo to clean your hair so that you do not need to allow it time to dry.
Also, make sure to keep your braids clean. Cleanse your braids either with dry shampoo or the normal way with shampoo and water. Depending on how long you keep your braids on, they are likely to accumulate buildup, hence the need for washing your hair.
Moisturize and Condition Your Braids
To grow a luscious and long mane, you need to keep your hair healthy, and moisture is the first step. Moisturizing helps to restore moisture after washing since breakage will occur if your hair is left to be dry and brittle, even if it is braided.
One way to moisturize your braids is to use a leave-in conditioner. A leave-in conditioner is lighter than a rinse-out one, which makes it ideal for braids. For braided hair, a conditioner with protein can strengthen the natural hair. According to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, intensive conditioning has been shown to reduce frizz, improve moisture retention, and enhance the overall health of your hair.
You can always add water to the conditioner and use a spray bottle to spritz your braids. This is advisable if the conditioner is too thick. A thick conditioner will cause buildup on your scalp, which will result in itchiness and a horrible look on your hair.
Another way of moisturizing your hair would be to spritz it with water mixed or using oils such as olive oil or jojoba oils. However, please note that oils are not exactly moisture; they can lock moisture in or out. Therefore, it is important to make sure you include water in your moisturizing routine.
According to the International Journal of Trichology, oils can create a thick film around hair follicles, which can reduce the hairs’ ability to pick up and retain moisture. Therefore, it is best to pick hair oil that penetrates the cortex since it increases water pickup and moisture regain; such oils include coconut and argan oil, with argan oil being the best. Fiber and mineral oils remain on the cuticle layer, which is why they can reduce the ability of your hair to remain moisturized.
When moisturizing your braids, do so in a downward motion. Make sure to start from the roots and down the braids. Make sure to gently rub the moisturizer down the braid strands. Do not rub in an upward motion since this will cause frizz. Also, rub a bunch of braids together, rather than just one strand.
It is advised to use oils as a sealant. This means that you first moisturize your braids with water and conditioner, then use oil to seal in the moisture in the strands. Remember not to use oil before moisturizing, as oils have been shown to prevent the hair from absorbing moisture.
Avoid Over Manipulation
Hair grows in protective styles because it is left alone without over manipulation. Tugging and pulling weakens your hair and leads to breakage. But when you braid your hair or put it under a weave, you reduce the manipulation, which allows it to grow.
Therefore, if you want your hair to grow in braids, make sure to avoid too much styling, especially styles that require a lot of tugging and pulling. These styles will offset the benefits that you are supposed to see with braids. Thus, please be gentle with your braids because even then, your hair is still vulnerable.
Don’t Leave Your Braids on For Too Long
Keeping your braids on for too long is not a guarantee that your hair will be longer when you undo them. As a matter of fact, the results might be just the opposite. When your hair is left braided for too long, your strands become weak, especially from the added weight of the extension.
Also, you are not able to properly moisturize and condition your hair when it is in braid style, hence the need to make sure it does not stay that way for long.
When braided, your hair is likely to experience what we call matting. Matting is like extreme knots and occurs when the loose strands of your hair continuously twist around the attached braid strands. The result is a tough and frizzy clump or tangle that cannot be easily removed.
Therefore, it is advisable to keep your 4c in braids for no longer than 6 weeks and a maximum of 8 weeks.
When removing your braids, you need to be gentle and careful with them. Take as much time as it takes without rushing. Remember that your hair is a little weak from being twisted around heavy extensions.
Therefore, be careful when detangling, combing out and washing your hair. Avoid too much tugging and pulling, which can cause breakage and offset the benefits of the braids.
Also, before moving on to the next braid style, make sure to give your hair a break for at least two weeks before braiding it again.