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– by Un’ruly contributor Dorcas Siwoku

Braids are back and seem to be more popular than when Brandy’s “I Want to be Down” was playing on the radio! With celebrities like Solange, Beyoncé, Brandy, Kerri Hilson and many more rocking flawless braids and twists, it’s safe to say they’re a style worth trying. Braids are a low-maintenance protective style that are versatile in styling, commitment-free and look great. They’re great for transitioners and those looking to use protective styles to maintain growth. However, if they’re done wrong, it can lead to frustrating damage and breakage. We’ve outlined some of the braid and twists basics to consider when deciding on, installing and take care of braids and twists.

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types of braids and twists

If you’re thinking about braids and twists, you have a lot of options to choose from. It seems like a new style of braiding or twisting is invented every day. Black Girl Long Hair goes into detail on the different types of braids and twists. We’ve summarized the most popular ones in the slideshow below.

With a style in mind, you then have to decide on a length, thickness and color. Get more braided hair style inspiration here.

installation

Getting braids or twists installed is the first step to ensuring your protective style actually protects your hair instead of harming your hair. Consider the following when braiding or twisting your hair:

  • Use human hair over synthetic hair. Synthetic hair can be drying and harsh on your natural strands.
  • Use larger parts, especially around your edges. Smaller parts can cause more stress on your strands with heavy braiding hair.
  • Be sure your hair is healthy enough to handle installation. A deep condition before installation is always a good idea. If your hair is already weak, the manipulation of the braids or twists could easily cause breakage to your fragile strands.
  • Do not braid/twist your hair too tight! This is the biggest no-no. Tight installation can cause permanent damage and hair loss. If you begin to see white bulbs at the roots of your braids/twists your hair is too tight! Those white bulbs are your follicles being pulled out (similar to the bulbs you see with waxing hair removal).
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care

The ‘set it and forget it’ method doesn’t work if you’re looking to maintain healthy hair while braided up. Here are a few things to keep in mind when caring for braided or twisted hair:

  • Keeping your hair and scalp clean is essential. A watered-down shampoo or cleanser used only on the scalp will keep your hair free of buildup and ensure healthy new growth.
  • Applying oil is a must, especially with such easy access to your scalp! Using lighter oils (olive, jojoba, coconut, etc.) are great for your scalp and paired with a little scalp massage you’ll stimulate blood flow, soothe your scalp and promote growth (win-win).
  • Cover your hair at night or sleep on a satin pillowcase to keep your braids/twists looking their best as long as possible.
  • Try not to keep your braids/twists in too long. Six weeks is the magic number. If you’re planning on going longer be sure to include a deep conditioning routine in your regimen.
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take down

Removing your braids/twists can be just as harmful to length retention if done as improperly as an improper hair installation. Here are a few tips:

  • Even if you think you know where your natural hair stops with your braids be sure to cut the extensions a few inches lower so you don’t snip your own hair.
  • Coat your hair with light oil as you take your braids down to provide slip to your strands to ease in the detangling process.
  • Finger detangle each braid or twist as you take them down. Detangling as you take down and removing shed hair helps keep your hair tangle free.
  • Be sure your hair is fully detangled and shed hair is released before washing. Failure to do so will result in matted hair. Which is a nightmare and usually ends with scissors and tears.

Now that you have these braid and twist basics under your belt, go forth and conquer with flawless hair!

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