Monday, October 7, 2013

My Braided Hair Story and tips for care of braided hairstyles

Braids. I love them. The first time I had my hair braided in singles I was in college. Yes, I know, while most little girls get their first head of single braids, cornrows, etc. before grade school,  I was not one of those girls. I admired the little beads and braids but since my mom didn't do it, I always just thought that kind of hairstyle wasn't for me. So through elementary, I rocked the pigtails and then the press-n-curl (which I hated- eternally tender headed) and eventually the "perm" or relaxer during middle and high school, which in the end always made my hair break off and look unhealthy. I've had so many different hair styles, but I really love braids for their ease and flexibility. When I learned hair could be added in to provide length, thickness and color I was in heaven!  It's one of the most carefree styles with the most options in length, color and texture.

Me and friends in college ca. 1990

Me - mid 90's in DC
Human hair tree braids - I loved these! 2001
As the years went by, I found braiding a great way to rest my hair and let it grow out between relaxers. But when I left DC after college and moved to the Pacific Northwest, good braiders were few and far between. So, out of desperation and determination, I taught myself how to do my own braids!
It was (and is) very time consuming. But I still believe it's worth the effort.

Me around 2005 - self done twists

Yes, I did these myself!
I mostly used synthetic hair for my braids and I feel the best is kanekalon. But there's a ton of kinds of hair out there for braiding, both synthetic and human hair. Here's a few links for buying on
 I think I'm getting the curly kind next time...

Me - summer 2013 yes that's purple and silver peeking out underneath ;-)

Tips for care of braided hairstyles

Braided hairstyles should be washed weekly and allowed to dry completely between washings. They should be re-done every 6-8 weeks. Leaving them in longer will result in matting and knots at the base for the braid where shed hair and product buildup get stuck. Ultimately, this can be damaging to the hair. So as tempting as it is to leave them in longer - don't do it! (I'm addressing myself on this too!) 
Wash the hair with a pH balanced shampoo - or mix a little acidic pH 4.5-6.0 water with your shampoo (If you have a water ionizer this is easy. If you don't have one and you want to know more email me)

Shampoo I like is all natural and doesn't have any of those bad chemicals in it that we hear so much about. I use Everyday Shea Vanilla Mint Shampoo and Conditioner. Plus it's fair trade so I feel like I'm helping women in Africa when I use this shampoo - bonus! Rinsing the hair with a pH balanced rinse is beneficial for the scalp and hair - again it should be 4.5-6.0. A little apple cider vinegar or aloe vera mixed with clean (filtered) water will do the trick.

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