Braids are like two sides of a coin; they make you look elegant, yet protect your natural hair from dryness, retain its length, and maintain its moisture.
You can hardly go wrong with braids. However, braids sometimes make your scalp hurt so badly you wonder if it is meant to harm or protect your natural hair.
This doesn’t have to be so. The good news is: “braids can be pain-free!”
What is a pain-free braid?
These are braids that do not make you feel pressured, tensed, or like your hair is going to pull out from your scalp.
For example, check out the Senegalese twist that 13-year-old Kelly (pictured below) did with us at DSN. She wanted to get her hair protected and pain-free, too.
After having it done right, Kelly said it made her feel good on the inside and like she could do anything.
Who wouldn’t feel that way with their hair protected and pain-free? But Kelly’s natural hair was prepared before she went for the protective style she wanted.
Remember, as African-Americans, our curly, dense and fragile hair requires high maintenance and preparation before braiding.
Here’s how to prepare your natural hair for protective, pain-free braids:
Clean And Condition Your Hair
Before you braid your hair, it should be clean and well conditioned. There are four important actions you should take to achieve this:
1. Oil your hair
Use a mixture of any of extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil few hours before applying shampoo to strengthen and revitalize your hair.
Apply the mixture typically to your hair and cover with plastic cap. Then, sit under a dryer for 30 minutes or you may use either a hand dryer or dry it with a warm towel for a few hours.
2. Next, clean your scalp with either of sulfate free shampoo, wet baking soda or apple cider vinegar.
To do this, apply shampoo or cleansers to the scalp. Massage gently with your fingertips and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
3. Deep condition your hair.
Apply any deep conditioner or hair mask of your choice. Cover with a plastic cap or warm towel for 15 to 30 minutes, then, rinse with cold water.
If you don’t have a conditioner, you can mix yours at home. Here’s how:
- 1 egg;
- 3 tbsp organic honey;
- 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- Mix honey and oil together and microwave to melt.
- Mix the melted ingredients with eggs and your homemade conditioner is ready for use.
4. Rinse your scalp and hair with infusion to balance your PH
This is important to increase your blood flow and stimulate the growth cycle of your hair.
There are herbal infusions you can use, such as:
- Catnip for hair growth;
- Chamomile to soften your hair and soothe the scalp, and
- Lavender to stimulate hair growth.
You can also use:
- Nettles to improve hair texture and help with dandruff.
- Peppermint is another herb you can use to stimulate your scalp.
- Rosemary (which is my favorite) helps to stimulate hair growth and curtail dandruff.
Here’s how to use an herbal infusion:
Method and preparation
- Boil water to ebullition.
- Add 1 or 2 herbs of your choice, cover and let it infuse for 30 minutes.
- Then, drain it and apply to your hair and scalp.
- Rinse it out.
- Gently apply light conditioner mix with olive oil to wet hair only.
- Comb hair from top to bottom while blow drying.
Now you are ready to visit your stylist.
Consult Your Stylist
Whether or not your braids will hurt also depends on your stylist. If your stylist doesn’t have a heart for the job, he or she might not have the patience to give you a pain-free braid that will protect your hair and make you feel beautiful.
But you don’t have to settle for less. After all, it’s your money, your hair, your time and you have a right to choose.
In case you want to change your stylist, ensure you schedule a meeting with your new stylist just so you can inspect the vibe of the saloon, customer service, etc. Take your time to vet your stylist by asking questions about the styles they are good at. Ask about the techniques used and see if the stylist is an active listener. Most of the time, you’ll know if that is the right stylist for you.
When getting your braids done, express yourself, don’t try to endure the process. If it hurts too badly, stop the process. This is for the health of your hair, scalp and well-being.
Now Go Get Your Protective Braids
There are two sides to getting pain-free, protective braids — your preparation and then the styling process.
However, while cleaning and conditioning works for some, some others believe it is the “hands” of their stylists that determines whether or not the braids will hurt.
What do you think?
Have you tried any of the above suggestions, or do you have other ways to make protective braids pain-free? Share in the comments.
Take away: Here are some protective styles you can ask for: