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Everything you need to know before getting braids!

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Braids aren’t anything new — our childhoods are filled with memories of sitting in front of our mothers and grandmothers getting individual plaits decorated with barrettes and bows or getting a head full of cornrows, when to be honest, momma just didn’t feel like dealing with your hair for awhile.

But, over the past year, braids have really gripped our imaginations — thanks, Solange and Bey — and we’ve gotten more creative with how we style and create our braids.

Although most of us are very acquainted with the braiding process, others may be new to the braiding game — especially our stunners who are transitioning to natural hair for the first time or simply haven’t tried anything more than basic box braids.

Here’s a little guide of what you need to think of before getting braids:

@queenzi_ styled

Choose the right style: Although I’m a die-hard member of #teambaldie, I love the look of super long braids. They look so fun and glamorous and I know I’d be swinging my back and forth like crazy if I ever got them. But, would they really work for me and my everyday schedule? Probably not. I like to get up and go, and those braids look high maintenance.

When thinking of what style to choose, consider your daily routine, how much upkeep you’re willing to do, and if you can freely wear your style in the workplace.

Low-maintenance ladies may want to stick to cornrows and ask their stylist to get creative with the pattern for a little “pop.” Ladies who are used to high-maintenance routines can probably better take care of more intricate styles and longer lengths.

Also, consider any special hair concerns — if you have any form of alopecia or are dealing with a scalp issue, such as psoriasis or dandruff, certain braid styles (or braids at all) may not work for you. Talk to your stylist or dermatologist before moving forward.

Photo credit: Pinterest // Lindsay

Choose the right hair: Often times, we hear people talking about using ‘braiding hair,’ but what does that really refer to? Some may think of the kinkier ‘Marley’ texture hair or the silky and shiny ‘Kanekalon’ hair. Some even use yarn to create the uber-long “Lemonade” braids that took over the past two summers.

Choosing the right braiding hair comes down to your hair texture and the look you’re going for. Ladies with relaxed or loosely curled hair may want the silkier quality of Kanekalon hair. Ladies with natural hair that’s thicker may want to use ‘Marley’ hair, which will match better with your natural texture.

Photo credit: Pinterest // Leneka Gaines

Choose the right stylist: We’ve seen the Instagram and Twitter horror stories about braids where women have literally lost their edges or developed infections from too tight braids. Although it’s tempting to visit the girl around the way who swears she can slayyyyy your braids for $50, take a little time to do your research first.

Ask for a portfolio and get multiple opinions from previous and current clients. If you can, ask if you can hang out at the shop while she (or he) braids hair so you can see how they work. Also, ask for a consultation — that will allow you to get a vibe of how they work, their level of knowledge and how well they address your concerns.

Choose the right products: Now that you’ve gotten your perfect braids, you need to maintain them. No use in spending $200 for a style that will look raggedy in a week! If you don’t have one already, get a silk scarf, bonnet, and pillowcase. The scarf will keep your edges neat, the bonnet will protect the braid itself, and a pillowcase helps if the bonnet slips off.

Invest in a lightweight spray that will keep frizzies and flyaways in check, and get a dry shampoo or clarifying treatment to keep your scalp nice and clean. Creme of Nature, Carol’s Daughter, Shea Moisture, Girl + Hair and other well-known brands have lines specifically for maintaining protective styles. Just choose whichever one works for you!

Have any other tips for ladies who are new to braids? Share them in the comments below! 

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