After seven weeks, I finally decided to take my box braids out, three weeks short of my intended protective styling period, which was honestly a tad ambitious in the first place. I didn’t expect my hair to grow as fast as it did, but I’m not complaining. While it was good not having to spend so much time styling my hair in the morning, I still had to take steps to keep my natural hair as healthy as possible while in this protective style.
1. Itchy braids remedy
Every time I have synthetic hair extensions in, my scalp itches severely and before I knew how to remedy that, it would put me off any braid styles involving Kanekalon hair i.e., the likes of Expression hair. Rinsing my hair with Apple Cider Vinegar helps to strip the extensions of any residue on the extensions, which may cause irritation. I only have to do this once after my braids are in and I’m good.
2. Moisturise often
To keep my hair moisturised in braids, I used plain water in a spray bottle to spritz my hair from the roots, down the length of the braids to where my natural hair ends, every other day. I would follow this with some Coconut Oil to seal that moisture in and keep my hair from drying and becoming brittle. Keeping ends healthy is key because I always want to retain as much length as possible.
3. Wash as needed
Every couple of weeks, I would shampoo and condition my hair with the Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner to keep my scalp clean and my braids smelling fresh. If like me you like to workout, you probably sweat a lot too and this can easily lead to a funk so dry shampoo is a trusted friend in-between wash days.
4. Care for the fragile edges
My edges are naturally sparse on both sides so I have to care for what I have to avoid adding stress to them and causing unnecessary damage. Applying Castor Oil and massaging my scalp gently every other night helps me to maintain the little I have and encourage growth. Traction alopecia (the gradual hair loss through the sustained pulling of hair) is real and it’s important that any hairstyle I have isn’t unbearably tight. High buns, for example, are a major culprit and I try my best to avoid them altogether if the braids are heavy.
5. Wrap it up at night
I always, always wrap my hair with a satin scarf before bed, mainly because I would hate to ruin my good pillow cases, considering all the oils and oily products I put in my hair. It also helps to protect braids and any hair style from fraying and looking worn before their time, as well as laying edges down nice and flat.
At the end of the seven weeks, the ‘fro is healthy and I have an extra inch of hair, although it may not seem like it with all the shrinkage. Some people can get away with not doing any of this and their hair just thrives. The rest of us need all the help we can get, but either way, hair needs some level of love and care and if you care for it, it will grow!