Crochet braids have become the go to protective style the last 5 years. Not only is it easy to install, but with the variety of hair options, it is easy to change one’s hairstyle month after month. My personal love for crochet braids came during my transition process. I didn’t big chop but rather chose to transition and gradually cut off my permed hair. Because crochet braids can be completed in less than 3 hours and are often inexpensive my transition routine involved wearing crochet braids for 1 month, take down and cut about 1 inch of permed hair, and re-install for another month. I did that for about 7-8 months while I was transitioned and learned many things about not only crochet installation and maintenance but protective styles in general.
I. It’s important to prep your natural tresses before installing any extensions
The main purpose of a protective style is to protect your natural tresses while maintaining a hairstyle that allows minimal or no manipulation to your hair. It’s important to make sure your hair is moisturized before installing:
- Shampoo hair with a clarifying shampoo- Using a sulfate free shampoo; apply 2 rounds of shampoo to hair to remove any buildup or residue from any previous hairstyles.
- Deep Condition – Using either a deep conditioner or hair mask, apply to hair, cover with cap, and sit for 2-3 hours (or overnight if possible) to provide strength and moisture to hair.
- Leave in Conditioner/Moisturize- before braiding, apply a leave in conditioner as well as a moisturizer to make sure hair is properly moisturized
II. Wash Your Weave Before Installing
I know many people don’t do this step but it’s imperative in order to prevent itching or even irritation to your scalp. Hair extensions of almost any kind come from overseas. It’s been in the same packaging for weeks or even months and washing is before installing ensures the removal of any dirt, chemicals, or even small bugs (yes bugs) that may have gotten into the packaging.
For those silkier braiding textures (bohemian braid, water wave, deep twist, etc) fill a bowl about ½ full with water, use 1 cup of conditioner (brand doesn’t matter so don’t feel the need to put in the best conditioner you have) and put each bundle into the water. Leave in for 2-3 days and take out to dry. More details can be found on my channel.
For those more coarse textures (Jamaican braid, ringlet wand curl, etc) dry shampoo or dry co wash with help get rid of the dirt and buildup. I have tried using the same method as the silkier textures and it was a complete fail. The coarse textures have a tendency to get tangled during the process. The dry shampoo works better without the tangled mess.
III. Choosing the Right Braid Pattern
For the most part, a straight back braid patter works for 90% of all crochet installs. See examples below
There are some instances where a different braiding pattern is required such as:
Tapered/Pixie Cut Crochet Install
Whatever install your decide, make sure you chose the correct braiding pattern. If you’re unsure which one to choose, go with the basics listed above.
IV. Maintaining Crochet Installs
A typical protective style, in particular crochet installation, should last 4-6 weeks depending on what hair is installed and how you’re maintaining your install. Here are a couple of tips to lengthen the life of your protective style:
- Sleep in a satin bonnet EVERY NIGHT….no exceptions. It really makes a difference especially for those coarse hair textures.
- Use mousse to minimize the volume frizz of your crochet styles. You also may need to trim any flyways every couple of days. This normally and should be expected on synthetic hair.
- MOISTURIZE YOUR NATURAL TRESSES EVERY 2-3 DAYS. Something as simple as applying oil to your scalp and braids ensure your hair is moisturized and protected.
- Wash your crochet braids (using dry shampoo or dry co-wash) every 4 days after your install has been in for more than 2 weeks. This will ensure to remove any buildup while adding shine back to your crochet texture.
With any protective style, maintenance is important to ensure the life if your install. Hope these tips/tricks help you on your next install.
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