Thursday, September 26, 2013

Protective Style Nightmare: Braids Too Tight!

Protective styles give your hair a break from daily styling and manipulation damage. Braids, twists, and buns are all great protective styles when done correctly. If your head hurts, it's because your hair is braided/pulled too tightly, or you have too much extension hair added. In either situation, this doesn't bode well for the future of your hairline. Avoid the unnecessary pain and hair loss with theses easy tips.
 Some braiders may tell you to take an aspirin and the pain should be gone by morning, but any pain is an indicator that something is wrong. If you have to lay down after getting your hair styled, your hair is too tight, and your scalp is at risk! 
A braider may braid tightly so that the style lasts as long as possible, which is what most of us want.  But tight tension is not good for your hair, hairline and scalp. Medium tension is best for fashioning braids; they may not last as long as  super tight braids, but your hairline will survive the style! 

If you're a victim of headache-inducing braids, what can you do?
  • Tip 1: Soothe Them! Use warm water to loosen them. Take a shower and let the water cascade over your hair. You may need to gently rub your scalp with the pads of your fingers, to loosen the braids a little. This is not the time to worry about how much money you just spent and how much time it took to style these braids, so don't think about that. Concern yourself with loosening up this tight style and saving your hairline. Wear the hair in a loose low pony as it drys. Follow the warm water with cold  Aloe Gel to further soothe your irritated scalp. If 2 days have passed and you are still in pain move on tip #2.
  • Tip 2: Remove them. Yes, remove any braids that are causing little angry bumps to pop up on your scalp, especially around your hair line.  This is not normal and can lead to Permanent hair loss down the road, especially if you make a habit of wearing tight braid styles. Do yourself a favor and see how your head feels when you're still in the stylist's chair. Does it hurt while she's braiding? Is there pain, even after she has moved on to the next braid? This is the time to ask her to ease up on your hair. Be vocal, and communicate your needs. Speak up! Its your money, and your head. It's much easier for her to take a step back and possibly redo the first few braids during your appointment than it will be to call her up and ask her to redo them later. Plus, let's face it: not all braiders are going to take kindly to second day phone calls and they may refuse to do them over.
  • Tip 3: Moisturize and nourish. Be sure to treat your angry scalp with nourishing ointments and oils. JBCO, vitamin E, and coconut oil can all help with soothing your head, and growing back any lost hairs. 
  • Tip 4: Hit the Road! Do not return to tight braiders: Some braiders are notoriously hard on hair. Once should be enough to tell you that this is someone who doesn't care about the health of your scalp. Goodbye!

You can take pain relievers, spritz your braids with soothing hair products, sleep sitting up like the Elephant Man if you like, but tight braids are tight braids. Traction alopecia (Hair loss due to tight hairstyles) is a serious issue in the kinky hair community and what makes it so tragic is that in the vast majority of cases, it's preventable. Don't let a temporary hairstyle trump your hair's health.