Monday, May 16, 2011

Braiding for Hair Growth

Braids done by: DesignsbyJackie

I am frequently asked by my clients as well as admirers of healthy hair, if I believe braids can grow their hair.  This is always a tricky question, so my answer is always yes and no.  As some of you may know, braiding and twisting for length retention are my favorite protective styles. I love braid extensions and would often use them to assist while my hair grew longer during my twa days.  However when using any kind of extensions to assist in hair growth we must be cautious of the potential damage that can be caused if the braids are handled improperly from beginning to end.  When I first Big Chopped (cut my relaxer out of my hair) I started using Braid extensions to protect my hair while it grew out. 

Big Chop: The morning after

After my Big Chop I was excited about being all natural. My fingers were constantly in my hair! I was always doing something to it, so I decided to braid up my 3rd month,  so that my hair could grow back out healthy and strong. This also gave me a break from trying to figure out what to do with my newly natural hair. 

First Set of Braids

I kept these braids in for 2 months. Washed and Conditioned, Covered at night, moisturized and did not wear tight hair styles....

Before Braiding up

2 months after

Within two months I retained 1" to 1.5"  also keep in mind in the above photo my hair is wet so it was actually longer than it appears, the photo above it is my hair in a dry state.  My husband was blown away at how fast my hair had grown within 2 months of wearing braids. And I must say I was impressed as well!  So I took another break about  a month and braided up again.

2nd Set of Braids  

The second time I braided up I asked the braider not to braid my edges, keeping the delicate areas of my hair out of the braid helps to guard against balding edges. That in conjunction with making sure the braider is not pulling on the hair too tight when braiding. When these braids came out my hair was significantly longer. 

Before my second braid up

 2 mos after..dry hair
                                                               wet hair

THIRD TIME......................................

                                                Take down after 

The above pic was a blow out that I did after my third take down, and I was pretty impressed with how much growth I had retained.    I  Braided my hair up  for a 4th time....  and don't know how many inches I retained(I got lazy with measuring)  But within 12 months time My hair went from  


                                                                   TO THIS!

Another blow out

The truth is:  hair is going to grow regardless, (unless you have a condition that prohibits your hair from growing)  But when hair is in braids or any other protective style,  you maximize how much length you are able to retain.  However if hair is not cared for properly in braids you can also suffer loss, or you may experience length but hair will be thin and brittle?  

As an advit braid wearer for the first year of my natural hair journey, I can honestly say that I feel wearing the braids is what contributed to the fast growth and length retention of my hair.   I will continue to wear my natural hair in braids/twists to reach my ultimate healthy hair goals.  

 Long Live Healthy Hair Braiding!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Be the Boss of your own Hair: Part 2

Hair Loss due to poor styling techniques

Image of broken hair

It is a familiar story,  women who forsake the health of their precious tresses for beauty. Whether it be a chemical relaxer, hair dye, excessive heat, weaves, or braids when it comes to the health of our hair, it's not worth hair loss!   I'm not saying that you should never have these services done on your hair,(its your choice and your hair)  but  I am saying  go into this with your eyes wide open, and keep them open.  I've learned over the years that women put a  TON of trust in marketing promises, braiders, stylist, etc.  And there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you make sure you are informed and knowledgeable about what your hair can and can't handle.  Researching and use of precaution can minimize loss of hair. )  

I've recently had a couple inquiries for  help due to hair breakage or hair lost because of poor styling techniques.  

Case 1: 
bald spot due to micro braids

 In the case above,  the client has medium to fine hair, and was having her hair repeatedly micro braided  with no rest in between for 12 mos straight.  Micro braids are very dangerous, because minute pieces of hair are not strong enough to support the amount of braid hair that is being added to it. Add that to the different styles one  may employ while wearing the braids, and you are asking to be bald!  In this example: The braider was the Boss.  The client was not knowledgeable regarding what the outcome of repeated back to back braid installs would do to her hair.  (and if someone is in the hair care/styling industry to solely make money, they're going to do it?)  Braids should stay in no longer than 2 months and you should always give your hair a good rest in between. Also when taking breaks you can assess how  your hair is fairing.  This will let you know if your hair is healthy enough to go back into your favorite (potentially) damaging hair care practice.  

Case 2:    

Two-strand twists, (put in too tight)

 In this case, all it took was one time!  Braider put the twists in too tight and too small. White bumps began to form within 2 days of installation.  The client stated that she asked the braider to loosen her grip when installing the twists, but instead she braided them in even tighter!  Wow.  This also resulted into immediate hair loss, which followed by even more white bumps and scabs along the hair line as the week progressed.

Twist that popped off! 
Twist was attached to this

Hair was attached to this!

This is completely unacceptable!  Keep in mind that these twists had not been in 2 weeks before all of this took place. These twists were done by a professional braider, and came with a professional price tag. (and she's still paying for it with  her hair)  Needless to say that even more bumps start to form at her nape, more twists came out and left behind more bald spots, even a bloody scab! The clients hair was literally pulled out of the follicle!

Plug where hair and scab use to be!
The braider in this case was the boss again and the client,  a victim.  The client's mistake was not asking the braider to stop braiding, and not walking out.  But thank God she has made the very smart decision to remove all of the twists asap before any more damage can take place.

Please ladies when wearing your favorite protective styles or styling your hair in general, do your research and think about what you're doing to your hair.  Also pay attention to your hair while in these styles.  If there is a potential threat to your strands, then abort!  Maintaining the health and length of your "own" hair is the primary goal.    Remember you are the Boss of your own hair. 

Next time.... Healthy Happy Hair Growing!!  : )