Extensions can be a part of a healthy hair journey if done properly. We are right in the middle of winter and kinky hair is particularly at risk from the dry weather and not to mention the dry indoors from heaters and so forth. Protecting our hair by covering it all up and making sure the morning routine is as short as possible drives most naturals to opt for a protective style of some sort. If you are opting for braids or twists with extensions, here are all the steps you need to take to do it well and make sure you do not damage your hair.
- Wash and condition hair well: It is very important to have braids or twists done on very clean hair, free from product build up. It will also be good to do a protein treatment to make sure your hair is strong enough the whole duration of the style since it may not be ideal to do a protein treatment with extensions in your hair.
- Good technic: Make sure the technic being used to braid or twist your hair does not cause excessive pulling on your hair as this may put your hair follicles at risk of damage. Even when the braiding is finished, you should not feel any pain at all from the installation. If there is any pain, then your follicles are under pressure and they may end up being inflamed and end up damaged leading to traction alopecia. Your actual hair is more important than a temporary hairstyle. Make sure you take that into consideration.
- Braid style selection: We cannot all get giant braids all the way to the hip without causing damage to the follicles. Some people have very thin hair and heavy extensions will weigh on the actual hair, causing a pulling action on the strands. So the extension-hair ratio should be considered when choosing a hairstyle. This does not matter if you are going to have them very thin or thick. As long as the ratio is not right, the damage risk is still present. As much as micro braids have spelt disaster on many a hairline, thick long braids may also give you more than you asked for. Bald patches.
- Styling: How you style your braids or twists will also play a pivotal role on the success of your hair. As much as we want to look sleek and so groomed, care must be taken that you do not make your styles too tight to the extent of you going out with squint eyes, an instant face lift and feeling the style throughout the day. That is not necessary considering the damage that tight style may cause to your hair. There are so many elegant styles out there. You will surely find one that is flattering enough to your face and agrees with your personality.
- Care of the hair: Although the hair is hidden, you still need to meet its moisture needs. So moisture is still queen. Make sure the scalp is clean and the hair is moisturised enough if you still want to keep hair on your head when you remove the extensions. Wash hair while in extensions and spray it with a water based moisturizer or spritzer as often as you may need to.
- Removal of the braids: it is important not to stay with extensions for too long. Six to eight weeks should be fine. More than that may cause hair to mat and lock. Make sure the extensions are removed gently and after the extensions are removed successfully, finger detangle your hair before introducing a comb to it. This will help you to clump of dust, lint, and product up at the base of each section. Finger detangling will also help you to remove all the shed hairs during the time your hair was in extensions with less pain and breakage.
- Wash your hair and deep condition so that your hair is well nourished and happy. After eight weeks, your hair may be due for another protein treatment, so go ahead and do it. Make sure you let your hair and scalp rest for at least a week if you want to put it back in extensions. Enjoy the length you have attained and let your hair sunbath in the African sun. Not too much though as the sun is not too good to our kinks as well.
Braid and twist extensions are really pretty but when done wrong, they may be a deal breaker.
Are you in Durban, KZN? Make sure to buy your ticket for the upcoming natural hair event happening on the 1st of August.
(Part of the content of this post first appeared on Beauty Bulletin written by Ruth Mafupa)