5 Tips For Rocking Braids (Using Your Own Hair) This Summer!

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Summer is almost here and with many of us planning to hit the beach or start swimming, own hair box braids are a great style choice for managing hair in wet conditions. Here is my guide to getting the most from own hair braids.

1. Size matters: larger braids or mini braids?
The size of your box braids will determine how long you can keep the style and also how you can style it. Larger braids (about 1 square inch at the base) are easier to put in and take down. If your hair is atleast 6 inches long, they will last somewhere between 2-4 weeks. Mini braids on the other hand are much more time consuming to put in and take down but the advantage they have is that they can be styled quite beautifully. It is possible to do bantu knot outs, roller or rod sets, braid outs and twist outs on mini braids. Mini braids can last a little longer too, usually around 3-6 weeks. The braid size you choose should reflect your patience level both for being able to put in and take down the style as well as how patient you generally are with keeping your hair in a protective style. Here is a styling video for those wondering about mini braid versatility.

2. Start with clean stretched hair and use two mirrors.
It will always be easier to section and create parts with stretched hair. At the simplest level all you have to do is make large braids (8-10) on freshly washed and conditioned hair. Allowing hair to dry in a braid allows it to stretch out. As you advance, you may want to try banding, African threading or curlformers as heatless stretching methods or if your hair is ok with heat then a blow out will work just as well. If you like really clean parts, do use a rat tail comb (metal ones tend to create cleaner parts) and two mirrors to countercheck the straightness of your part. Here is a classic how to part and braid video.

3. Protect your edges
The front and back edges of the hairline are the two most vulnerable places for hair loss. If your hairline is naturally thinner at these points, do make an effort to make larger braids rather than smaller ones even if you are choosing to make mini braids. Some naturals also find that cornrowing these areas instead of braiding helps to reduce stress on the hairline. However, this is only the case when the cornrows are not too tight otherwise they have no protective effect.

4. Do wash your hair
If you like to deep condition your hair weekly or shampoo wash every fortnight, there is no reason to change your routine because you are in box braids. It is true that the washing will make the hair fuzzier over time and this may limit for some, the length of time that they can keep the style. However, sticking to your normal routine or adding in additional washes due to chlorine or sea water may overall be more beneficial to the condition of your hair

5. Don’t worry about the ends
If your hair naturally curls at the end, then finishing off your style with a spritz of water and a curling product or gel may be worth your while. If your hair is not in this category, then finishing off the box braids with a twist or just leaving it alone is fine. You do not need to try to get your ends to clump as this can be unnecessary extra manipulation. The hair in box braids will generally not tangle that much at the ends. If you have issues during take down, you can at that point attempt to roller set the ends with a perm rod, curlformer or hairpin a la Cipriana to stretch out the hair.

Ladies, do you plan to braid your hair this summer?

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The Natural Haven

The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

 
  • http://nappyheadedblackgirl.com/2013/05/kinky-when-wet-hayley-marie-norman-2/ nappy headed black girl

    The two mirror trick is genius. Don’t know why I never thought of that lol I can’t part to save my life, even with a rattail comb.

    I’m not rocking braids this summer because I’m a dread. But when I was loose I was never a big fan of braids anyway.

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  • Hyspin

    I have braid extensions in just over 2 months now since my rate of growth (not my retention) is only quarter inch a month, I only half an inch of roots showing (it really looks like less than quarter of an inch because of the curl), is it possible that I could push this style to 4-5 months instead of the 2-3 months? I think it will probably take 4 months or so to get long enough to start to matte.

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    • TWA4now

      I wouldn’t push it beyond 2 months…do yourself and hair a favor.

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      • Hyspin

        I am just curious what are disadvantages of keeping extensions in for that long if my hair is such a slow grower? I thought the only disadvantage was the dreading and that was due to the length hair gets for MOST people by 2 months.

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        • Valerie

          The biggest issue I can think of is matting. Depending on the regimen you have for your braids it needs a “treatment” break between protective styles or youll end up with long weak hair

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    • Sana

      I used to wear my extension for 3 months at a time and I actually retained a lot of length. I wet my hair everyday and washed once a month. They were about medium size and full. I used wet an wavy human hair which was light so it didn’t pull my hair. I kept it neat by having the front and side braided every month or as needed. It’s doable but like everything else you still have to take care of your hair. PS at the time I wasn’t even try to grow my hair. It grew like weeds.

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  • http://annnsow.tumblr.com annnsow

    I wish I could but… I’ve never been able to make anthing tight in my life T-T

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  • TWA4now

    I have yet to do braids just mini twist then perhaps wash and gos for the summer or more mini braids…and the beat goes on…

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  • http://toofin.org/ toofin

    The 5 points really make sense, thanks for the help.

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  • Azariah

    Will this work if you’re in the process of transitioning?

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    • Bobby

      As a long term transitioner myself, this might not work on hair that has relaxed ends because they will unravel. You can roll the ends but you would need to do it everyday.

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  • Shaniya H.

    I like the way that these YTer’s did their real hair box braids-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2le9rv2iWA

    and hers also -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdW0Edzxtio

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  • Tanya

    Already rocking mini-twists with braided roots. Thinking about Doing mini-braids over the summer. And btw, that’s pookinapp in those videos! I love that lady! She’s my hair twin, lol.

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  • B-Phlyy

    This article is right on time. I had planned on this as my go to style for the summer and plan on washing and braiding tonight.

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  • me

    I have done this and as someone already mentioned your starts matting. When you take them down you must also be VERY patient it won’t happen in a flash.

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  • http://www.youtube.com/user/NaturalHairStyles101 Natural Hair Styles 101

    I think I’m going to incorporate braided hairstyles into my summer style regimen soon. I have been trying to think of a way to “baby” my edges and I am finding that cornrowing my edges down the side of my head seems to be improving that area! Hopefully, a summer full of braided hairstyles will be just what I need!

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  • Jessica

    how long between rebraids? I have a 15 month old and removed her braids all her own hair. when should I be able to braid it again?

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  • sophia

    I am so happy I found this spot. Boy I braided my hair about two weeks ago and I had to wash I needed it so bad. I didn’t know what to do because its natural but after reading your article i’m very happy to know that one, I can leave these in for another two weeks, and two I can wash it and deep condition it as well. thank you

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  • natalia

    This my go to hair style it helped me reach bsl. I wear my hair in box braids 4 months at a time without any problem

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