Braids worn as a protective style are used to promote growth and protect the scalp and hair. It is the responsibility of a stylist to educate the client on how to maintain the braids and just how long they should be kept in. As a stylist, I have constantly heard “braids take my hair out”. That couldn’t be farthest from the truth. Braids installed improperly, installed too tightly, and using an excessive amount of extension hair added to your hair will result in weakened, damaged hair.  Whether you use braids or twists, the same applies. Braids done properly WILL NOT TAKE YOUR HAIR OUT!

If you are a natural hair stylist, a licensed cosmetologist or a braider, please understand that an imbalance between extension hair and the client’s natural hair will cause hair loss. A proportionate amount of extension hair must be placed into the client’s hair. Otherwise it will be too heavy for the client’ hair. This holds true for synthetic hair, human hair and/or yarn.

Braids can be put in too tight and cut off scalp circulation, cause excessive pain and can pull the hair completely out of the follicles (which may cause permanent damage). Overly tight braids may cause pus bumps around the hairline and nape areas. This hair loss is most often permanent along the hairline.

Leaving your extensions in too long (more than 2-3 months) can cause hair loss as well. Your client’s natural texture will determine how long braids should be kept in. Fine, soft or coily hair is very fragile and the hair will intertwine around the extension hair making it difficult to separate the extension hair from the client’s natural hair. Hair loss is the result. More time will have to be taken to remove the braids and limit hair loss.

Excessive product use with braids will cause a build-up. Products mixed with dirt will clog hair follicles. This residue will weaken your hair strands where the extension hair was added and cause breakage/hair loss. A stylist should educate the client on how to properly cleanse and shampoo hair while it is braided to avoid hair loss/breakage.

If you are transitioning, a braided style is preferred. Hair in transition can be braided; however, breakage is unavoidable. When transitioning, the hair shaft has two textures on it (relaxed and natural). Breakage will occur where the two textures meet (line of demarcation). The relaxed textures will break off leaving the natural hair on the strand only.

When shampooing braids, avoid heavy cream shampoos as they will cause reside build-up no matter how much you try to rinse it out. Use clear gel shampoos that rinse thoroughly.  Avoid using petroleum based products on braids as they do not allow moisture to reach client’s hair or scalp. Waxy gels or pomades attract dust and dirt from the environment. Dandruff shampoos are not recommended when your hair is braided because they contain harsh chemicals that strip sebum from the scalp. Always rinse with warm water with a strong water flow/spray. Acidic rinses such as lemon & lime juice, apple cider vinegar) are used to reduce build-up and should be followed up with a leave-in conditioner. Squeeze braids in a downward motion when rinsing to bring sediment that not been properly rinsed to the surface.