Hair style maintenance: How to care for micro braids
The most versatile box braids are micro braids because of their very small size.But they also require special maintenance to prevent damage to natural hair.
More and more women are choosing braids as a hairstyle option. Box braids are quite popular, due to their versatility. More than one style can be achieved from one set of box braids, dependent on the size and the hair texture used. The most versatile box braids are micro braids because of their very small size. Micro braids are done with less than twenty strands of extension hair. Because of their size they last for a log time. But they also require special maintenance to prevent damage to the natural hair.
Due to the extremely small size, micro braid styles tend to be very full. When hair is full and wet it becomes very heavy and cumbersome. Washing micro braids is best done under a showerhead. To wash micro braids, one must put the hair in a ponytail. Place shampoo on the scalp and the hair that is not in the actual ponytail. Hold the ponytail up and away from the scalp and only wash the scalp and the hair closest to it. This is done to prevent the whole hair from becoming saturated and weighing down the head. Rinse the scalp and hair. If using synthetic extensions, rinse the ponytail with water only. The ponytail only needs rinsing because it does not become oily like the scalp and the first few inches of hair. Unless heavy products are used on the total length of the braids, water is enough to clean the extensions. If wearing human hair extensions, wash the ponytail with shampoo to remove any product build up.
Follow the washing with a conditioner. Only the scalp and the first few inches of the braid needs conditioner. If you are using synthetic hair, the synthetic hair does not benefit from conditioner. Therefore you only need to condition the part of the braid that covers your natural hair. Avoid heavy cream conditioners, because they will become entrapped into the braids. This can cause matting and locking of the natural hair.
The natural hair must retain moisture to prevent dryness and brittleness. Brittleness causes breakage, especially around the hairline. Because of the size of micro braids, they only cover a small amount of human hair. The weight of the extension, especially synthetic hair, can cause the natural hair to break. To prevent breakage, keep the natural hair moisturized. Use a spray form of moisturizer to easily access the scalp and the new growth. If extensions are done with human hair, spray the entire braid style for sheen. If using cream moisturizer, natural oils are the best. Use shea butter or coconut oil to moisturize and add sheen.
Even though micro braids can last longer than average braids, if left in too long they can cause damage. Because of the small size, it is easier for the natural hair to trap lint and conditioner at the starting point of the braid. If this occurs, then matting and locking will occur. The smaller the locking, the more difficult it is to untangle. If it locks permanently, the hair has to be cut. Many women lose a lot of hair after leaving in micro braids in too long. Therefore do not leave micro braids in longer than three months.
Because of the amount of braids done, micro braids can become heavy. It is beneficial to wear the braids up sometimes to relieve the scalp of the weight. Also, wearing the hair up puts less stress on the natural hair, especially around the hairline. The hairline is extremely fragile and responsive to stress. Therefore when wearing the hair in a ponytail, do not make it tight. The tension will cause breakage.
When removing the braids, it is easier to cut the braids where the natural hair ends within the extension. This will cut back on the amount of time it takes to unbraid the hair. Using the tail of a rat-tail comb, unbraid the extensions. When you remove an extension, immediately apply a cream moisturizer to the new growth and comb through. It is easier to comb through each individual braid, than the complete hair when all extensions are removed. This will cause less breakage.
Micro braids offer a long lasting versatile hairstyle. With proper maintenance, one can have a low maintenance style and achieve growth at the same time. Whether you choose to use human or synthetic hair extensions, micro braids can lead to macro styles.