Nine times out of 10, getting your hair braided is an investment of time and money, so you want 'em to last for as long as possible. For braids done with natural hair, that might mean up to a week, while feed-in protective styles can last up to six weeks.
However, with natural wear-and-tear, and other lifestyle factors (like exercise and beach days), your plaits are bound to look more lived-in than that first day. While this can look cool as well, those hoping to keep their style in for an extended period, without a ton of frizz, often finds a special regime necessary — especially if Labor Day weekend pool days are in your future.
For advice, we spoke to expert braiders for their tried-and-true tips for preventing one of the most common annoyances: frizz. Keep scrolling for their advice.
#1. The Sleeker The Part, The Neater The Braid
Whether you're getting a feed-in protective style, or braids on your natural hair, neat parting is essential. Celebrity stylist Sarah Potempa says that careful sectioning is key to preventing frizz. "If your parts aren't perfect and your hairs are crossing between braids, you are more susceptible to those pieces becoming frizzy," she says. The solution? A thin, metal-tipped comb is important to separate your hair accurately. Be sure to tie hair that isn't being touched away to avoid additional pieces getting mixed in during braiding, too.
#2. Use A Pomade Or Gel
Once your hair is parted correctly and sectioned off, technique and products are essential. Brooklyn-based hairstylist and owner of MyTresses salon, Simone Cremona, tells Refinery29 that the easiest way to prevent frizz is by using pomade or gel while you braid. "A good pomade will add hold while coating the hair and concealing any split ends or flyaways," she says. "This will ensure your hair, and any synthetic hair you are using, lay flat for an extended period." Potempa also adds that looking for a product with flexible polymers will also help your hair hold movement without making it stiff or flaky.
For protective styles, use a cult-favorite gel, like Let's Jam, to add shine and memory to your braids. The Beachwaver Co. makes a foam-based braid balm that is safe to use on synthetic hair or your naturally wavy hair texture, or you can use a shine pomade, like this one from Cantu, which adds control without the crunch.
#3. Detangle As You Go
The smoother the braid, the less frizz, which is why Potempa says it's important to detangle as you braid. "When all of your hair is flat in one direction, it prevents pieces from separating quickly," she adds. Pro tip: Every few layers should be followed by a gentle detangle with a fine-tooth comb as you braid.
#4. Finishing Products Are Important
Your work isn't done just because your braids are complete. Finishing steps are vital to make sure that your braids last without going haywire. If you're using synthetic hair for thickness and length, your hair should be set with piping hot water so your braids don't unravel. Then, in order to keep flyways flat, Cremona recommends a foam mousse. "Apply a few pumps of mousse to your hair to keep everything laying down," she says. "Mousse also comes in handy weeks later if you're experiencing slight frizz. You can apply some more and tie your hair down to smooth any loops left-out." If you're hitting the pool or breaking a sweat while your hair is braided, Cremona adds that letting them dry completely, then applying mousse, will help conceal frizz.
#5. Care For You Braids While You Sleep
Sleeping without securing your hair is a recipe for frizzy braids. "Moving around while you sleep creates tension on your hair," Cremona says. "Using a satin scarf, bonnet, or silk pillowcase will help reduce some of that tension, so you wake up with neat braids." She also suggests using an anti-itch spray while you sleep. "Sometimes, you don't realize that itching your hair, while you're awake or asleep, can disturb your roots and result in frizz," she explains. "Spray a soothing scalp treatment with tea tree or peppermint oil on before bed, that way you aren't tempted to itch your scalp." You can also opt for scalp treatments with charcoal, witch hazel, and apple cider vinegar, which can help absorb sebum from your scalp. So not only will your hair be on point, but your scalp will be, too.
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