Braids are beautiful. Whether you prefer tiny microbraids, larger box braids, medium box braids, cornrows, or tree braids, a plaited style can bring out the natural beauty of your face and provide you with a pretty, low-maintenance hairstyle. So when it's time to take down those braids, you may hesitate...and for good reason! Removing braided hair extensions, especially with smaller braids, can be time consuming and even damaging to your mane, if you don't know how to do it right. Fortunately, these few tips can help save you hair loss, hassle, and damage while taking down your braided hair extensions.
5 Important Tips
Tip 1: Rotate regularly. Don't leave braids - especially microbraids - in for too long, as this leaves time for the hair to grow "comfortable" with the braids and latch onto the hair extensions. This is particularly important for women with curlier Type 3c and Type 4 locks, as coarse hair tends to loc together quickly, making it very hard to separate all the strands and remove the extensions hair without cutting. Try not to wear the same braids for more than 6 weeks, and aim for four, just to be safe
Tip 2: Wash carefully. As noted above, coarser hair types tend to loc together over time and when washed and dried in a certain pattern. For this reason, women with kinky or kinky-curly hair should avoid washing or conditioning braids with any product that dries the strands and encourages locing. Oil-based products and waterless shampoos that give the locks "slippage" will keep each strand healthy and separated from the others. Consider high quality sulfate-free hair care products made for hair extensions.
Women with oilier scalps and finer or straighter locks should rinse braids with water and cleanse the scalp with a cotton ball or swab dipped in an astringent. This will prevent hair odor, keep the scalp healthy and clean, stop hair oils from gumming strands together, and even help control fine flyaways.
Tip 3: Prep hair with natural oils before removing braids. Natural oils will lubricate the hair and help you slip the hair extensions out more easily. Try a lightweight oil like carrot, sunflower, Vitamin E, or coconut, or one of the all-natural blends available in beauty supply stores.
Tip 4: Snip hair extensions at the ends only, and unravel the braids - DON'T yank them. Use hair scissors or shears to cut off the ends of your braids. For best results, cut away as much of the extension hair (whether free-flowing, as in tree or microbraids, or sealed shut, as with synthetic hair) as you can before snipping your natural lengths. Then put the scissors away; attempting to cut out snarls or tangles in the hair extensions once you've started unbraiding your own hair will only lead to trouble.
Instead, unravel each braid down to the scalp, using your fingers to work out any snags you encounter. While this process can be lengthy, resist the urge to get impatient and try to pull the braids out from the top. You will cause more tangles and put more stress and friction on the hair than needed.
Tip 5: Brush hair with a natural-bristle brush after all braids have been removed. This will catch any leftover strands of extension hair that you didn't remove with your fingers. A boar-bristle brush will also help smooth the your natural hair's cuticles and restore shine. Then you'll be ready to wash, condition and style as you like - even if that means more braids later!