What is braiding?
Braiding hair is just another form of hair care. It is used by a lot of people – men and women alike – no matter what your ethnic background. It is a style of combing the hair. I will endeavor to explain how it is done.
How to braid hair
The key to braiding any type of hair is to ensure that it is cleansed. You can take a look at my article on cleansing hair here. Once the hair is clean, it is time to begin.
You divide the hair into manageable sections, especially if this is your first time. Once you have a small section, pin away the other hair so you can work without entangling the other hair sections while you work.
Divide this section into 3 parts, as equal as you can. Take one section in your right hand and hold the other 2 sections between your fingers on your left hand. Then take the right-hand section and put it over the middle section in the left hand; and while holding both sections in the right hand, take the other section in the left hand and put it over the middle section from the initial cross over. You continue doing this till you reach the end of the hair length.
Each time you pass a right or left section over the middle section, it becomes the new middle section; so effectively, you are always crossing one section over the last section that you crossed. Also, remember to gently tighten the braid by pulling on the middle section as you go to keep it even and taut.
Braiding will take practice. It will be necessary to get a moderately neat braid with uniform styling. This is where practicing on a Barbie comes in handy.
Once you have mastered the art of braiding, you can take it to the next level by adding hair extensions. Let’s look at the pros and cons of doing so.
Using hair extensions – is it necessary?
Using hair is extensions is simply a choice in styling options depending on your taste, the occasion and the budget. There are, however, points to be aware of:
- it will give you more hair length and volume depending on the style
- it can be used as a form of protective styling
- if not treated before added to your natural hair, it can cause dryness and itching
- once added to your hair, it needs to be moisturized constantly to prevent dryness
- if attached too tightly to the hair, it can cause stress on the scalp and hence hair loss
Before using any type of hair extension, it is recommended to first soak the hair in some apple cider vinegar and equal parts of warm water. By doing this, you are removing the acidic content from the hair and making it more alkaline so that there will be less or no reaction once it is used close against your scalp.
Stylish Types Of Braids
There are various types of braids. The list is not exhaustive, but I will list a few of the more common ones below. These are works of art and will surely take a lot of practice to achieve perfection:
- French braid
- Fishtail or herringbone braid
- Rope braid
- Dutch braid
- African braid
Advantages of Braiding
There are quite a few things to be said about braiding your hair. I have highlighted a few good reasons for braiding your hair:
- braiding gives your hair a break from constant manipulation
- can help to promote hair growth and length retention
- it can give hair a lot of curls and volume if kept in for a day or two once the braids are undone
- braids can act as a smoothing tool for hard to manage hair
Disadvantages of Braiding
Like everything in life, there will sometimes be disadvantages to doing something. The same with braids. Braids:
- can cause stress on your hair if done too tightly and may even result in hair loss
- can cause snags if the sections are not evenly divided before braiding and result in uneven divisions while the braid is being done
- can cause matting of the hair if left in a braided state too long
Caring For Your Braids
If you decide to braid your hair or anyone’s hair for that matter, it is important to remind the individual about caring for the hair once it has been braided. The hair care process is a little different for naturally braided hair versus hair braided with extensions.
If hair is braided without any extensions, the only care you need is to cover the braids before you sleep using a silk head cover so that the hair strands do not get broken off by coming in contact with cotton pillow cases or bed covers while you sleep.
Once you braid the hair with extensions, you have to spritz the hair daily to ensure that there is enough moisture reaching the natural hair. You can use already made/purchased hair moisturizing leave-ins or make some yourself.
Where To Find A Good Braiding Salon
If you would prefer to have someone help you to braid your hair, with or without hair extensions, then you can always enlist the help of a friend or maybe a hair salon. You can find salons by:
- word of mouth
- hair community blog boards
- online hair salon directories
- beauty shops sales/owner assistants
I hope you enjoyed this article. I would love to hear your feedback by leaving any suggestions in the comment section below. Happy braiding.
1/How to Braid Hair– a little book on braiding hair using various styles.
2/DIY Braids– another book on hair braids and styling.