When Alicia Keyes first appeared on the music scene, she sported stylish cornrows and braids; and recently, celebs such as Regina King, Solange Knowles and Jada Pinket-Smith have been spotted with beautiful cornrows and box braids.
Braids come in various forms – cornrows, twists, micro-braids, you name it – and have different application techniques, so play around to see what style suits you and your lifestyle best.
• To get your braids on, find a reputable and professional hair-dresser who specialises in braids; and make sure she does not pull your hair too tightly by using too much tension as this can lead to permanent hair loss.
• When you’ve made the decision to braid your hair, make sure you choose good quality hair extensions to save your hair from damage caused by synthetic extensions.
• To keep your hair in good condition, it’s best to give it a deep-conditioning treatment before braiding.
• Bear in mind that braids can be painful and they take time, so you need to practise patience.
• Relaxed hair should be handled with care to prevent breakage.
• Braids are great for growing hair and resting it from everyday wear and tear, but that does not mean you can neglect your hair once it’s in braids.
• Braids are relatively low maintenance, but it’s important to shampoo and condition once a week. Try to use a product especially formulated for maintaining braids. Use a conditioning shampoo to wash your braids, massaging the scalp gently; and rinse well. Dry by wrapping hair with a towel for absorption; then allow it to air-dry or use a blow-dryer on a low heat setting, concentrating on the scalp.
• Deep-conditioning treatments are recommended every second week. For daily maintenance, use a braid spray or an oil sheen spray such as Dr Miracles Healing Oil Sheen Spray, R59.99, to spray the length of the braids.
• Avoid using greasy products as they will collect in the braids and give them a dull and dirty appearance.
• Before going to sleep, cover your hair with a silk scarf to keep your braids looking neat and beautiful.
• It may be necessary to do touch-ups every few weeks to keep your braids looking fresh and tidy.
• Never leave braids for longer than three months or you will experience breakage.
• If your scalp is itching from the braids, try Dr Miracles’ Braid Relief Gel Formula, R49.99, to soothe it and provide some relief.