I will start off with this PSA: Braid/Twist Extensions Do Not Mean You Can Now Ignore Your Hair
Yes, having braids or twists in your natural (or chemically treated hair) is definitely a break from styling it daily, but you still have to put in work. It is not an effective protective style if you are not caring for it. Here are three things to do to ensure that your own hair stays growing healthy under your braid/twist extensions.
- Water it…but, choose a good hairdresser first!
You don’t have to run from water. I’ve heard too many Naturalistas say that they don’t want to wet their extensions or avoid washing their hair because they’re scared that their natural hair will frizz out through the extensions. Well ladies, if you have a GOOD braider/twister, you need not worry about that. I’ve had my hair twisted by three different women, two that knew what they were doing, one, who hadn’t a clue. The one who wasn’t as experienced and knowledgeable (on twisting AND on natural hair), the same day, it was unraveling, and a matter of days later, my hair was already frizzing. With the other two hairdressers, my hair remained nice and neat until it was due to come out. Even after shampooing (the right way), no frizz. So what did these experienced, natural hairdressers do that the other one didn’t? It was all about HOW they twisted my hair. They ensured that with every twist they made, they covered my hair with the fake hair. My hair was truly protected because except for the roots, it was totally covered. So even when I did wet it, and it would get frizzy, the frizziness wouldn’t show because it was covered by the fake hair. The fake hair mind you, which I ensured was afro kinky textured hair, was as similar to my own texture as possible. Straight hair and even Marley twisting hair I find unravels easily (even when you seal the ends by dipping the tips in boiled water), and I find it doesn’t maintain the neatness as long. Also, when I am putting in twists, I am not trying to run away from the look of my own natural hair. Realistically, if I were to twist my own natural hair, it would look just the same (though not as long, and with my arch enemy, shrinkage, when it gets wet).
You should still use your spray bottle daily, with whatever mixture you find works best for your hair. The only thing I’d encourage you to add to your spray bottle mixture is Tea Tree Oil and Glycerin.
Tea tree oil is a natural antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-infection oil. It is said to increase hair growth, while treating dandruff and dry scalp. It is soothing to itchy scalps and seals in moisture. Glycerin is an alcohol; it is a water-soluble conditioning alcohol, which is known to be very effective as a moisturizer and humectant. It is slippery to the touch and as a result is found in personal lubricants (some people admit to using natural and/or organic personal lubricants in their hair). It is also found in lotions, soaps, lip balms, and I’m sure in a lot of the hair products that you already use. If you are debating on whether you’d like to add it to your hair regime or not, Curly Nikki has a great article on it, which you can read here: http://www.curlynikki.com/2013/08/is-glycerin-good-or-bad-for-curly-hair.html
Still use your Satin wraps, bonnets and/or pillow cases. This will also decrease the frizz and keep in the moisture. I currently use a satin pillow case and satin bonnet. I find the bonnet works better than my usual satin wrap, as the bonnet is perfect for twisted hair which may be bigger due to length and/or thickness. It covers all of my twists and has elastic edging so I’ve never had an issue with it slipping off at night.
I’m not going to tell you how often you will need to shampoo your own hair, as you probably already know what is best for you. You definitely don’t want to over shampoo. I tend to wash my hair less regularly in twists/braids than I do when it is in it’s natural state, but even that is dependant. If I am in water (salt water or chlorine), I’m washing it right away. I’m not co washing, I’m straight shampooing. If I notice it just feels dirty (or worse yet, looks dirty), then I’ll also wash it. My washing routine doesn’t change much except for how I apply the pre-poo (yes, at times I still pre-poo before I shampoo my twists)/conditioner/shampoo/leave-in. My best friend when washing my hair while it is in twists (or braids) would have to be spray bottles! Everything is applied with a spray bottle. I add product to the spray bottle with some water and spray away, starting at the roots and only spraying where I know my own hair is. I do it this way because I find it is just easier and because your fingers aren’t all up in your twists, it decreases the manipulation and therefore decreases the frizz. When I’m rinsing the product out, I just let the water from the showerhead flow through my hair. Again, no manipulation is needed, other than to move around the twists to ensure all parts of my hair get the water. To dry my twists, I just wrap them in a towel, squeeze and leave it wrapped in a towel until they’re dry. If it’s crazy hot out and I don’t mind what’s left of the water in my twists to run down my back, I’ll just let it air dry. The spray bottle steps are used for all steps (pre-poo, co-wash, shampoo, conditioner & leave in). Feel free to add a couple of drops of tea tree oil in these spray bottles as well.
Do you have another way that works best for you when you’re rocking your twists or braids? Did you try this method? Feel free to share your thoughts, comments and questions below.
Thanks for reading, ladies!