If you’ve chemically processed your hair recently avoid styles like braids, cornrows and weaves for about four weeks. Let your hair grow out a little to strengthen the locks that have been chemically treated, as they would have been weakened by the chemicals.
Fix the problem before you style. You need to ensure that your hair is in the best possible condition before braiding, weaving or making cornrows. If your hair breaks, sheds or is brittle, these styles will only worsen its condition. Don’t use braids, weaves and cornrows to conceal damage, as the the tension and weight of the braids will make things worse.
Avoid tight braids. This is one of the worst things you can do to your hair. Tension alopecia, hair loss caused when tension is applied to the hair for long periods, is the result of tight braids and cornrows, or constantly tying your hair in a tight ponytail. Trichologists (specialists in hair and scalp health) warn that while you can recover lost hair on the hairline and nape, should you lose hair in the centre of your head it’s gone forever.
It’s very important to prepare your hair for the extensions. Boost its strength with a deep condition protein treatment. Leave it on for a minimum of 20 minutes, and then cover it with a shower cap or towel to create heat. Don’t skip your normal conditioner afterwards. Opt for an intensely hydrating product and leave it on for just as long as you usually do.
You need to wash your hair regularly when wearing braids, so opt for a sulphate-free shampoo and do a co-wash (washing your hair with conditioner) fortnightly. This will stop product and oil build-up which causes hair to tangle and break when you take your braids out.
Mix your shampoo with water in an old spray bottle, then wet your hair and spray as close to your scalp as possible. Massage the solution in, then rinse.
Hydrate with a water-based moisturiser to retain the moisture from conditioning. Dry your hair with a microfibre towel or old cotton T-shirt to soak up excess water.
Baste your scalp with oil once a week to avoid flaking and dandruff.
Do not leave your braids in for too long. The longer you wear them the more dirt will build up, which eventually causes hair loss and breakage.