With hours of braiding out of the way, you now need to know how to clean braids correctly. It only takes a few basic hair care steps, customized for plaited hair, to get your style gleaming as if you just stepped out of the salon.
Worried about messing up the perfect parts or unfurling the frizzies? Your momma should have told your that what is even worse is improper braid care!
All jokes aside, bad braiding maintenance leads to hairstyles without a healthy sheen, dandruff or entire braids detaching from your scalp when you run your fingers through your hair.
It only takes five steps to avoid this drama:
WASH IT: Clarifying shampoos are your best option for this task. Another badly kept "secret" is using horse shampoo. Yes, it has a picture of a horse on the bottle. No, it is not for horses but for humans. The high protein formula found in "Mane & Tail" is often cited as a beauty secret. Ask your stylist whether your hair texture is better off with a simple clarifying shampoo or a protein enriched one.
TONE IT: Optional for other folks, toning is essential to anyone who is serious about how to clean braids thoroughly. All it means is that you massing your scalp gently. Since you do not want to disturb your braid design, be sure to only use the pads of your fingers. As you massage, follow any pattern that your braid designer created while sectioning your hair. Otherwise simply working from front to back, then back to front between rinses (see next step) will be fine.
RINSE IT: The bane of braiding is lint in hair. Often mistaken for dandruff or lice, hair lint is a collection of dirt, dust and textile fibers like towels that your braids can collect if you use hair products too much and cover your hair too little. A spoonful of apple cider vinegar (ACV) goes a long way in hair debris removal. Mix it in a ratio of 3:1 with distilled water after you shampoo. Remember to close your eyes!
CONDITION IT: Using a water based conditioner on the hair and an oil based light moisturizer for your scalp will help keep your hair both healthy and shiny. Do not go too heavy on the hair care products though or the ACV will become your best friend.
GROOM IT: Before styling, you will need to groom your hair. Air dry or use a microfiber towel to pat your hair dry. Do not rub as you may cause undue stress to your hair and scalp. This is the time to get knots out of hair or use a soft bristled brush to manage wisps of hair. If you are not satisfied with your grooming job, then call your braider for a "touch up."
Knowing how to clean braids with these five simple steps will keep your style firmly rooted.