It’s widely believed that braid extensions help to “grow” hair, which in part can be true. While they are certainly a great protective style that helps you retain length, here are 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Braid Extensions to keep in mind:
1. Braids don’t “make” or “promote” hair growth instead they help with length retention. Every time you style and detangle there’s a risk of breakage. It just happens. When your hair is braided, you dodge the risk of mechanical breakage from manipulation. This is why braids are a great protective style.
2. Wearing Braids Long-Term (more than 4-6 weeks without touch-ups) Can Decrease Length Retention. “Six weeks is the maximum I would recommend [leaving in extensions],” says Natural Hairstylist Diane Bailey. For many this is around the time that the hair begins to lock or mat. Leaving them in longer makes it difficult to detangle. It’s also good to throughly clean your hair and scalp without the extension to prevent infection and other conditions of the scalp.
My Fair Hair Suggestion: I would advise not keeping extensions longer than 3 weeks at a time for optimum hair health.
3. For those who have sensitive and thinning edges, you have a higher chance of experiencing traction alopecia or increased hair loss in those areas. Its best that you avoid any and all tugging and tightness in this area. This is a concern if you continuously wear braids back to back without any breaks. If you already have an issue with thinning or sensitive edges braid extensions may not be the best thing for your hair.
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4. Keep Them Loose. During my last trip to the braiding salon there were so many beautiful braided styles being created around me. But I couldn’t help but notice that many of these women were victims of traction alopecia. If you feel that your hair is being pulled too tightly kindly ask your stylist to reduce the tension that is being applied.
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5. I know they look pretty but the small teeny braids (micros) put a lot of tension on the hair. This isn’t to say that you can never wear micro braids if you want, but constantly wearing them may lead to thinning hair rather than healthy length retention. Plus, its not fun taking all those tiny braids down. Which if you don’t have the patience, micro braids might not be for you. In order for your protective styling to be beneficial it must protect your hair and scalp from breakage. Otherwise, if you rough house with your hair, all of the length that you retained can easily break off.