Taking down protective styles with MINIMAL breakage
Originally published on December 28, 2017
Is it possible??? Yes. It is and trust me when I tell you I learned this the hard way. Protective styles can be great for your hair as long as they are installed properly, you take good (I mean great) care of your scalp and you take them down carefully. Of course, there is going to be shedding. We shed hair daily but because we don't wash our hair daily most of that hair comes out on wash day or maybe during your mid-week detangling sesh. The longer you have a style in, the more shedding you’ll experience - this is normal.
My favorite protective style is any type of braids. I’ve been getting my hair braided for as long as I can remember. Prior to relaxers, my mom would always do plaits/box braids/whatever you want to call them on me and my sister’s natural hair. Does anyone else miss those simple braids with all the beads on them?
Prior to a few years ago, I would just do two braids or maybe a braided crown. Then I started getting braids as protective styles with added braiding hair. My first takedown was absolutely terrible. I didn’t think to read anything on pinterest or anything like that I really didn’t think there was much to it. Undo the braid, take off weave, wash your hair. It’s not rocket science. Boy was I in for the worst time of my entire life!!!! I just started taking them down one by one and just let my hair be. I didn’t add any water, oil or conditioner. I didn't even tie it up or section it. By the time I finished (one eternity later...) I had a huge fro and then I went to shower. I shampooed my hair. At this point, I wasn’t even washing my hair in sections yet. Something I swear by now. Then I went on to condition and detangle. Or I thought I was about to detangle. I’m sorry but I have to curse just thinking about this day. HOLY SHIT. My hair was sooooo tangled, it was a hot ass mess. I kid you not I was in the shower for about two hours. I went through two bottles of conditioner. And guess what? My hair still was not detangled. I got out the shower in tears and had to ask my aunt to help me. We used another bottle of conditioner and finally finished I don’t even know how long it took. After those 2 hours in the shower the rest of the day is a blurr. I’ve never lost so much hair ever. I am in tears writing this I am not lying. It was serious.
Of course, my extra Dominican ass mom had a field day with this story. I told you not to add that hair!! I told you!!! I told you all your hair was going to fall out!! You never listen to me!! You spent all that money for nothing! Woah. Like chill lady. First of all, I still had hair. Don’t play me. Second, what caused this wasn't the style or the braiding hair (no seriously when has braiding hair ever jumped out the pack and snatched your edges off??) It was the fact that I didn’t have a good system of taking them down at all. When taking them down I didn’t even run a comb through my hair. So I went on to shampoo and as you can tell it caused a huge mess. After the fact, I’m like hmmmm let me see how other girls take braids down because I’ve never heard anyone tell me that this happened to them. I go on Pinterest and what do you know. In my hair board filled with inspiration for protective styles, I found two posts about, let us call it, the takedown. Wow. I already had this information. Leave it to a Dominican to think she knows everything.
Alight guys!! Let's get to it. I’ll simplify it as much as I can and for the record, this is what works for me. Right now I have feed in cornrows but for these steps, I’ll pretend I’m taking down box braids. The process isn't much different but I do want to include the sectioning because I think that is really important. This is what I use.
- Water bottle - filled with water or aloe juice (or whatever your favorite spray bottle concoction is! Mine is usually fresh aloe juice with a couple drops of peppermint or tea tree oil)
- Wide tooth comb
- Hair clips, scrunchies, whatever you section with
This changes and you can change it too depending on what you have on hand or what you like:
- Oil - you can do one simple oil like coconut oil or you can do a mix (OR)
- Cheap detangling conditioner - I say cheap because you’re going to shampoo and condition when you wash your hair so you might not want to use your expensive deep conditioner. (OR)
- Pre-poo concoction - I really don’t know what else to call this thing. It’s basically just a deep conditioning treatment that I will be doing prior to shampooing my hair. I have a ton of different recipes and yes I will be sharing them all! I just need a little time to perfect them and get the measurements down as usually I just eye it and change them every time because I use what I have on hand. Hopefully, by January I will have gotten through all the hair care basics and I can spoil you guys with recipes. This post was actually unplanned and not on my schedule but I figured since I was taking down braids and I have a whole hair blog I might as well share this too.
Split your hair in half
Split your half in half. We are working with a lot of hair here so please make life easier on yourself and work in smaller sections.
Start from the top or the bottom (whatever is easier). I usually work from the bottom up. One braid at a time… Spray the braid with you water mix. Yes, before you even start to take them down - especially at the roots. In my experience working with dry hair causes unnecessary breakage.
If you are going to use oil you can add this step as well and use that slip to unravel - but since I’m using a pre-poo mix this time I am not doing this.
Cut some weave off with your scissors (carefully so you don’t cut off your hair, you know your length but I’m just saying) and start to unravel. After you’re done with this first braid spray it with a little more water if you want then unravel a few more the same way.
Lightly finger detangle this section (or use the comb) to take out any shed hair
Apply pre-poo to this section (maybe 5-8 braids depending on your hair and how many you have in) The pre-poo I am using today is simple: An avocado, Jamaican black castor oil, extra virgin olive oil, and honey.
Make into a twist or Bantu knot so it doesn't get in the way
Shampoo and Condition
That is all. Remember that we shed 100-150 strands of hair each day. So it’s completely normal to have a lot of hair shed. Don’t confuse that with “omg all my hair is falling out.” What you can do is minimize breakage and cut down on detangling time.
I also wanted to mention why I only kept these cornrows for 1 week in case it’s helpful for anyone! If you don’t want to know you can stop reading now lmao. I typically leave box braids in for at least 3 weeks. I have never gone over 1 month but that’s because I hate it when they are TOO frizzy. I know you can wash them and refresh but that’s just not worth it to me. I’d rather take them down. Usually by week 3 I’m itching to feel my curls again. Anyway, as you can see from the photo each braid started on the same side. I loved everything about this style. I chose it as opposed to box braids basically for the culture. I was really feeling the trend. My edges on that side… umm absolutely hated it. I started to notice irritation within 2 days. I thought okay no big deal. My first time ever getting heavier braids my scalp was a little irritated but I learned to oil my scalp every other day and I actually kept that set in longer than any other. It was no big deal. I’m thinking okay I can fix this. I made a bomb oil mix that was the perfect amount of tingly. It was Jamaican Black Castor oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grapeseed oil, Avocado oil, and about 5 drops of Tea tree and Peppermint essential oils. I used that daily, not every other day, because of what I was dealing with. The irritation seemed to clear up. I’m thinking great we’re going to make it to NYE. Not the case. I go to get ready for bed on Christmas night and before I start to oil my scalp I realized my edges on that side were looking like they were about to BLEED. I ran out to my boyfriend like yooooo look at my head!! I need to take this out right now. We look at the time. Its11pm. We’re ready for bed! He reminds me that it’s only 6 braids and they shouldn’t take long to uninstall. Damn. I was kind of hoping he would convince me to wait until tomorrow lmao. So I walked my tired ass back to the bathroom and I did the steps I shared above.
I washed my hair with the best shampoo that I have been able to find. This shampoo cleanses well, but it's not too stripping. I shampooed 2 times.
I detangled and deep conditioned with a product that almost brought tears to my eyes. Never have I ever used a product that penetrated my hair this way, the moisture, the slip, it is unmatched. This was my 3rd time using the product but I swear it felt like the first. This brand is actually not taking new orders at this time. But you can follow them on Instagram to keep up! They are 100% worth the wait.
When I tell you guys that you are sleeping on small BLACK owned businesses please do not take that lightly. I’m a sucker for natural hair products just like everyone else. These past 2 years I really struggled with conditioners. It’s the most important step for me because my hair gets very tangled. In part that's why I started detangling with my pre-poos and got really into DIY’s. I tried most conditioners you can find in stores. From Tresemme to Pantene, from Shea Moisture to Deva Curl; I could really keep going and name about 6 more brands. That’s why this product meant so much to me and I’m making it a huge deal.
Back to why I even decided to share this part… if your edges are being snatched off, if your scalp is bleeding, if the braids are just too tight or you had a bad reaction to the products used, whatever the case may be - abort the mission immediately. No hairstyle is worth it. PAY ATTENTION.
Do you wear protective styles? Have you ever had a bad experience? Let me know girl.