Box braids are arguably one of my favorite protective styles. My natural hair is woven in with synthetic hair where I will not be required to manipulate it for at least a month. When it comes to protective styling, I’ve already touched on how to prepare your hair for a protective style, and one of my fellow BHI writers touched on how to properly wash and care for your hair after box braids, so it’s only right that we also discuss care and maintenance, including washing, during.
When selecting a protective style one of the most important things to me is if I will have access to cleanse my scalp. I tried getting a sew in once and I almost pulled the tracks out after 3 weeks because I couldn’t clarify my scalp the way I wanted to.
After getting box braids installed, I will typically wash my hair about every 1.5 to 2 weeks. My wash days are pretty simple and short.
I start with an Apple Cider Vinegar* rinse for my scalp. With free flowing natural hair, I would mix one part water and one part ACV in a bowl and simply pour it onto my hair and scalp. With braids, I have to take an alternate approach by putting the mixture into a spray bottle.
On dry hair, I spritz the ACV mix in between each and every part of my scalp and gently massage with my fingertips. This step is essential because of the amount of product build up on your scalp as well as the ability to get in, cleanse, and clarify under the actual braid.
Next, it’s time to shampoo. With my natural hair, I typically avoid washing my hair in the shower due to the harshness of warm to hot water has on the hair strands. However, with braids, I find it easiest to hop in the shower.
As for shampoo and conditioner use, I like to select a non-expensive choice because of the large amount I will need to use. My personal choice for shampoo is the Creme of Nature Argan Oil shampoo that is sulfate free. For conditioner, I use Suave with Morrocan Oil. It’s cheap and I can use enough to coat my scalp, hair and the length of the braids without guilt.
I ensure that I use shampoo and wash the braids down the length completely in order to keep the freshness and remove any oil or product I may have used previously.