Braid Stylists Share Their Tips For Keeping Braids Looking Day One Fresh
With summer and festival season creeping up, a cute hair switch-up is mandatory. For the natural hair beauties planning to safeguard their coils with stylish braid installations, as a self-professed goddess braids devotee, I’m well aware of their rising costs (damn you, inflation 😒). As a result, meticulous braid maintenance routines are more important than ever before.
So to help you lengthen the life of your new set, we reached out to two braid stylist faves, Shayna Dawnes of Braid Bar LDN and Jess (Jacinta) Rutna of Zuri Hair Studio, for some pro-level maintenance tips and recommendations that they *guarantee* will help sustain your braids’ day-one freshness and gleam.
1. Satin Scarfs or Bonnets are Your Best Friends
Nowadays, there are TONS of budget and boujee head bonnet designs out there to best suit your hair needs – you seriously can’t go wrong with Awefeel’s Double-Layer Satin Sleep Cap, $16, for lengthy protective looks. As Dawnes explains, “braids get the messiest at night, so it’s always best to wear a satin headscarf and bonnet to help prevent friction” as you snooze.
2. The Lifespan of Your Braids
If your protective style has reached its cut-off stage and you’re tempted to delay it further – three words: DON’T GIVE IN! As someone who once used to fall into the toxic trap of ‘one more week!,’ I can confirm it’s NEVER worth it – talk about a fast-track ticket to breakage.
Even though the suggested timeframe varies from braid stylist to braid stylist, you’ll find that a general rule of thumb is about six to eight weeks, with Rutna also recommending “a touch-up three or four weeks in to neaten your front few rows” to help avoid baby hair breakage.
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3. The 411 on Wash Day
Like most braid maintenance tips, the frequency of a cleansing routine will differ from one person to the next and is also dependent on the chosen protective style. However, Dawnes makes sure to point out that “washing braids is a personal decision and not necessarily something you’re required to do.” But if you want to ensure your scalp health remains in tip-top shape, Rutna encourages “washing your braids every two to three weeks to get rid of product build-up and help sustain a healthy scalp overall.”
Dawnes’ wash-day shopping list:
- Imbue Curl Liberating Sulfate-Free Shampoo, $10
- Imbue Curl Respecting Conditioner, $10
- A microfiber towel – here’s why.
- Imbue Coil Rejoicing Leave-In Conditioner, $10
- Shine N Jam Magic Fingers Setting Mousse, $8
- A hairdryer with a diffuser
Rutna’s wash-day shopping list:
- African Pride Black Castor Oil Miracle Braid & Scalp Cleansing Rinse, $12
- As I Am Jamaican Black Castor Oil Water, $7
- Creme Of Nature Argan Oil Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse, $18
- Camille Rose Ginger Cleansing Rinse, $13
4. Scalp Care
With a protective style, your scalp will become more vulnerable to dryness hence why round-the-clock TLC and hydration is key. Dawnes suggests “oiling your scalp every few days using a lightweight oil and/or spraying your braids with an oil spray.” She advocates for oils infused with rosemary oil for nourishment, “especially if you’re experiencing hair loss or thinning.”
And one valuable trick that Rushna loves (and we personally back as well!) is mixing a small amount of leave-in conditioner, water, and oil in a bottle (we use castor oil in our personal recipe) – shake it well and then spray this emulsion into your roots and lengths. From experience, we’ve seen this work wonders for our natural hair beneath, leaving it looking and *feeling* visibly lush and fluffy, especially post-braid-removal.
5. Keeping Flyaways in Check
Replicating that smoothed-out braid finish that your resident stylist so flawlessly perfects is actually not as hard as it looks. Dawnes reveals, “always begins by wiping the edges clean with a damp cloth. Thereafter, re-lay your edges with your chosen edge control, then oil the scalp with a lightweight oil like olive, carrot or almond. End off by adding some mousse, followed by your satin headscarf.” Leave this on your head for a while, but if you’re in a serious rush, a cool blow-dry directly over will help speed up the hair-laying process.
Let us know in the comments if you guys have any other protective style Q’s, and also check out these sizzlin’ summer braid trends for your daily dose of festival hair inspo!