I don’t always have the time to style my natural hair and protective styling gives me a break. Well, after five weeks of box braids, it’s time to take them out. If you’re wondering what to do with your natural hair after braids, read more about how to care for hair after taking out braids and other long-term protective styles.
Detangle Your Hair
Detangling your hair after box braids or any long-term protective style is a MUST. Hair sheds between 50 and 100 hairs a day so experiencing hair shedding after braids is completely normal. Detangling your hair after protective styling helps remove shed hair, any synthetic hair that might have mixed with your natural hair, and product buildup. The best way to detangle hair after braids is by finger detangling. Finger detangling allows you to get rid of knots and tangles with minimal breakage which essentially leads to length retention. I usually pre-poo with coconut oil to make the process less stressful while finger detangling and use a wide-tooth comb or detangling brush later on in the wash day routine.
Clarify and Cleanse
After detangling, the next step of your post braid hair care regimen is to cleanse with a clarifying shampoo. After weeks of being in a protective style, hair tends to be full of oils used to keep our scalp from feeling dry and product buildup if you used edge control or other types of styling products while protective styling. Clarifying is a process of removing the dirt, oils, and product buildup. You can clarify and detox your natural hair with a clarifying shampoo, an ACV and water mixed rinse, or bentonite clay mask.
Since clarifying strips the hair of oils and dirt, you would need to add moisture back into your hair. Skip the cowash and use a deep conditioner. Cover your hair with a plastic bag or heated cap, and let the product sit for about 20-30 minutes. Heat opens the hair cuticle allowing the deep conditioner to penetrate the hair easier and bring the moisture back in. Make sure to detangle your hair in the deep conditioning process.
Here are some product suggestions for deep conditioning natural hair after braids:
Trim (if Needed)
If you didn’t trim your hair before protective styling, you most likely need a trim after. Trimming natural hair helps keep your hair healthy and is an important part of haircare. You can trim your hair at home, but I always recommend seeing a professional for a trim. Whether you do it yourself or get help, get rid of those damaged ends!
Give Your Hair a Break
If you plan on doing another protective style, I recommend giving your hair a break for at least two weeks. Protective styles give you a break from styling your hair, but it still needs to breathe! Instead of installing another long-term protective style the same day or a few days later, do hairstyles that require low manipulation like buns, roll, tuck, and pin, a puff, twist-out or a wash-and go.
I started protective styling with box braids back in November and since my plate will be pretty full with grad school and my full-time job, I will be doing more protective styling this year. My next style will be crochet braids so make sure to check out my review on YouTube.