I've had this installation of boxbraids for the almost 3 months. Belive me, it's time for me to take them out. However, with my intense workout schedule (4-5 days a week) it's hard for me to pin down some time to remove. Then I have to figure out what to do with my hair! I know, I know, #naturalgirl problems.
In an effort to keep my braids fresh, and not stinky, I have to wash my braids at least once a month. As always, I use tea-tree oil to help remove bacteria from sweat that may happen when you workout or with general daily activities. But after while it comes to a point where you gotta dunk your head in the water an wash the 'stank' away! LOL
So, here's my guide to washing box braids:
Step 1 - Depending on the length of your braids, you want to pull your braids into one or two loose ponytails. The ponytails should be loose enough to allow you to massage your scalp and get shampoo/conditioner between each braid. Banding your braids will help you not to lose loose braids and keep you from tugging your hair too firmly.
Step 2 - Rinse your entire head with water. Easy enough. Just like washing your loose hair, rinsing your braids helps open the hair follicle in order for your hair to receive the moisture and nutrients from the water, shampoo, and conditioner.
Step 3 - Apply shampoo to the ends of your braids, then to your scalp area. I use Aphogee Deep Moisture shampoo when washing my box braids because synthetic braid hair can pull moisture from your real hair. During the washing process, I try to use products that promise the most in moisture retnetion.
Massage scalp as you'd usually do with loose hair. Make sure to concentrate on the scalp area helping to massage away any dandruff, dead-skin, or debris.
Step 4 - Rinse and repeat shampoo as necessary. I usually rinse and repeat twice to make sure all the 'stank' is gone. LOL. But really, you don't realize how much dirt your braids will pick-up; especially if the braids are extra long.
Step 5 - Add conditioner to your SCALP AREA only. Remember, box braids are usually created with synthetic hair, no need to waste good conditioner on plastic hair. I usually use Pantene for Naturals Deep Conditioner because it works really well and make your hair smell really good. Of course, rinse after you've allowed the conditioner to sit for the desired amount of time.
Step 6 - Drying. Now this is the part I hate. My box braids are usually waist length. Totally saturated waist length braids are SUPER HEAVY. I usually take an extra-large t-shirt to dry my hair by putting my head through the neck hole and letting my braids hang out the back. Then I use butterfly clips to tighten the t-shirt around the braids, allowing the t-shirt to soak up the water.
Your box braids will be wet for about an hour, but if you use the t-shirt technique water will not drip all over your clothes.
After you remove the t-shirt, DO NOT put your hair in a bun or ponytail. Let your braids hang loosely, letting your scalp breath, so that your wet hair won't mildew and you have to go through washing process again.
Step 7 - Add oils to seal in the moisture. I use Jamaican black castor oil on my edges and olive oil mixed with coconut oil for the length of my braids.
That's it! Hopefully this helps when you wash you box braids. It's a long process but you'll have great results and your hair will thank you for the added moisture.