By this, I simply mean the tightness of the braids applied not only at the root but the tightness along the hair shaft. You or your braider have to be mindful not just of how tightly your roots are gripped but also how tightly the sections of hair are wrapped and twisted to blend in with the extensions*.
Tension is often increased by professional braiders to promote the longevity of the style but let’s look at things a little closer shall we?
We all know someone who’s had very little luck with length retention even though they wear braids or weaves the majority of the time. The fact that they are long-term protective styling often is great but if a high tension method of braiding is used, it puts the strands in a constant state of stress for the duration of the style.
During the takedown, the person notices that along with the expected shed hair, they get a great deal of breakage too. After this happens multiple times, they may assume that their hair just doesn’t grow.
Hair does have some natural elasticity but when you keep it under high tension for long periods, like a rubber band, the elasticity is lost and breakage becomes the obvious result. We all know that excessive heat is not great for our hair but along with that, high tension braids are a major reason for the loss of hair elasticity and integrity.
This is of course the best way to braid hair for both hair health and longevity of the style. You work with your hair’s own elasticity and ensure that the hair is not being stretched excessively while braiding.
This means that the style will last a long time before becoming frizzy while still keeping the integrity of your hair’s structure.
This is also a good option but like chunky braids, the style will not have as much longevity as medium tension braids. Your hair will not suffer damage but you will definitely have to redo these often.
If you braid your own hair, recognizing that you are responsible for the lack of progress that you are seeing is… let’s say challenging. Most people don’t like to admit that they are wrong. But if you accept that you may be causing more harm than good, either change your braiding technique or you may be better off paying someone you trust to braid your hair for you.
Likewise, if your stylist is making some of these braiding mistakes either switch stylists to someone who understands the importance of healthy protective styling or learn how to braid your own hair!
If you are paying attention to braid size, weight, tensile strength, and tightness without properly deep conditioning your hair regularly WHILE BRAIDED, you are doing your hair a disservice.
Your hair washing regimen must continue throughout the duration of your long-term protective style to maintain proper moisture protein balance in your strands and see the fruits of your labor at the end.