Since summertime can be so hot and sweaty, some naturals prefer to braid their hair up into a protective style. I’ve talked about the dangers of protective styling during the winter in the past, but protective styling for the summer can be just as hard on the scalp and strands if not properly achieved. Here are some things to take in consideration before putting your hair at risk simply because you want to get it out of the way.
When you’re prepping your hair for a protective style, you first have to make sure your hair is at a healthy state. If you have split ends, cut them. If your hair is dry and rough, maybe switch up your deep conditioning routine to use heat, use protein treatments, etc. If your hair isn’t at least a little healthy, it will simply break when you put it in braids. And all we want is health and growth!
This kind of goes back to the health of your hair also. Make sure before you install your braids, you deep condition your hair and heavily moisturized it. Don’t be afraid to go off with the products, because you want to make sure your hair stays moisturized for a long time since you won’t have direct access to it for at least two weeks.
★ Tightness of the braids/style
I struggle with this area the most, especially because most hairstylists that know how to braid tend to braid very tight to make sure the style will stay in place. However, when they do that, your scalp will be irritated and itchy. You might have to take some Advils to feel better, which is NOT the solution. That will simply lead to you losing your baby hairs and making your scalp prone to other problems. So, make sure you clearly state your concerns to your hairstylist beforehand so they know not to pull too tight and damage your strands.
Now that your braids are installed, don’t just let them be. That will cause more harm than good, because your hair will be extremely dry when you take it out. Create a regimen that will fit into your schedule and meet the needs of your hair. What I like to do is keep a spray bottle with me where I put water and a leave in conditioner that I will occasionally spray on my braids when I feel like they need it. Some naturals who keep their braids in for a long time also deep condition. You can probably find tutorials on how to do so on YouTube: there are no excuses!
Depending on the health of your hair, the moisture of it, as well as the state of your protective style, this might vary. Some naturals prefer keeping their hair in braids for two to four weeks, some a little more. However, please do not go beyond two months with the same protective style. Your hair needs to breathe, and even though you can see growth from your protective style, you have no idea what is going on underneath and might experience extreme breakage when taking the braids out. Be careful with your hair!