Braids are a go-to hairdo for the summer. Not only are they versatile and low maintenance, but they also simply stun — no matter the occasion.
Plaited styles have been worn for centuries, dating all the way back to 3500 B.C. in Africa, and are constantly evolving. Today many women opt for braids to give their natural tresses a break from everyday styling, which in turn promotes hair growth. Effortlessly cool and elegant, braids will always be in style. But to reap all the benefits of this look, proper installation is key.
A few starting points
To ensure your locks are flourishing while tucked away, seek out a professional braider who prioritizes the health of your scalp and strands over aesthetics. “The number one thing would be not to get [braids installed] really tight,” says celebrity hairstylist and hair-loss specialist Tamara Johnson. “Some salons that braid hair only focus on making you look good, not so much on the health of your hair.”
And while braids are meant to be a protective style, installing them too tight can lead to folliculitis (aka inflammation of the hair follicles), which usually appears as small, red bumps around the hairline. “After a couple of days, you can even see the cuticle of your hair … being pulled out of your scalp,” says professional braider and natural hairstylist Stasha Harris. Plus, “you’re going to feel it. Your head is going to hurt,” Harris adds. If any of these signs occur, remove the style immediately.
To prevent this scenario altogether, Johnson suggests finding a stylist who will take the time to assess the condition of your scalp and hair prior to installing braids. Additionally, make sure they’re extra cautious around the fragile parts of your mane, including the hairline and nape area. And if they apply too much tension, speak up right away. Already experiencing hair loss? Give braids a break and consult a dermatologist.
Here are a few things to consider before sporting braids this season.