Written by Lauren Gordon
Image by @ayxvna
Braided hairstyles are the go-to hairstyle for the warmer months. Nothing is better than booking yourself in for knotless braids or straight back cornrows before jetting off on holiday or heading to your next day party in the London sun.
Braids look great and are a low maintenance protective style for our natural hair and keeps things manageable in the heat. They simply look cute, but keeping them fresh and like-new can sometimes be difficult, so here are four ways to extend your braids’ shelf life to keep them looking fresher for longer.
Invest in itch-free, high quality hair extensions
To ensure a high quality result, Ruka Hair’s team of Black scientists have developed braiding hair that is free from harmful chemicals, looks more natural and feels and behaves like real hair.
Their revolutionary new synthetic hair range is made from hypoallergenic and biodegradable organic collagen fibre and comes in four types according to the style you want: Textured Straight – yaki braiding hair for traditional knotless braids or fulani braids, Bone Straight – for lightweight braided styles, French Curl – ideal for boho or goddess braids and finally, Passion Curl – for passion or kinky twists.
For now, colours Natural Black (1B) and Dark Brown (4) and Ginger (130) are available to purchase, with Blonde (27) and Platinum (613) set to be released later in the year.
Braid-it: Textured Straight
Don’t forget about your scalp
Although braids are low maintenance and keep your natural hair protected, it doesn’t mean you should neglect your hair altogether, especially your scalp. SPF is just as important in hair care as it is in skincare, Ebuni Ajiduah, a trichologist and owner of Untype Hair Salon, tells us.
“I think a lot of people forget that the scalp is skin and the same rules apply. When large portions of the scalp are exposed, they can be more prone to sunburn especially as it is the summer style of choice,” she says.
“Suncream can be a tricky one for black people as some feel their melanin is enough to protect from damage or find the product leaves an unpleasant residue, but using a spray on sunscreen or a light formula can work well with braids.
Ebuni adds: “I’d also say to avoid using oils or oily products on the scalp skin when out in the sun. Make sure to reapply sunscreen after water activities or if heavily sweating and be sure to focus on areas that are directly exposed, you can even wear hats, scarves or other coverings during the hottest part of the day. Finally, wash hair in braids every two weeks, as this will help clean the scalp and remove excess build up.”
Scalp & Hair Mist Sunscreen SPF 30
Moisturisation is key
Moisture and hydration is super important when turning to braided hairstyles, no matter the season. The more hydrated your hair is when in braids, the less susceptible to breakage it’ll be, which is the ultimate goal when opting for a protective style.
Apart from water, which is the ultimate key to hydration for any hairstyle, SheaMoisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Styling Lotion to keep your roots moisturised as well as keeping partings sharp and Instagram-ready.
As part of your nightly ritual, incorporate a scalp oil like the Afro Coils Scalp Oil for instant itch-relief and keep your scalp soothed, relieved and replenished with the help of ingredients like lavender, chamomile, avocado and jojoba.
Afro Coils’ soothing formula helps to replenish the vital oils we lose daily by moisturising the scalp and soothing tender scalp. It’s also rich in anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can improve the overall health of the scalp.
Strengthen & Restore Styling Lotion Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Scalp Oil for Dry & Itchy Scalp
Get that polished look on lock
Braided hairstyles only require a select few products to ensure it looks as new as the day you had it done. An oil sheen, like KeraCare’s, works with a humidity block, giving your braids a natural looking shine without the added grease, while Fudge Professional’s Xpander Foam can be used to tidy any flyaways or messy roots and has a built in heat-protectant if you want to use a hair dryer to set your style.
If you’re looking for a quick refresh in between wash days, which can be lengthy with braided hairstyles like twists or knotless braids, dry shampoo is your new bestie. MONDAY’s Original Dry Shampoo is blended with Keratin, a deeply hydrating protein to help protect your braids from environmental factors, and instantly absorbs excess grease and sweat – perfect for a post workout refresher.
Oil Sheen Spray
Volumising Hair Mousse
Haircare Original Dry Shampoo