By Kiri Rupiah (@KiriNtando)
Taking down braids is not easy or quick unless you’re doing it wrong and don’t mind split ends and a busted hairline. Here’s one way of doing it that I’ve found has greatly minimised breakage, saved my hairline and also helped me retain length.
2. Clean, washed hands with manicured nails (that means long or short your nails don’t have splits that’ll snag in your hair)
3. A spritzer bottle (I got mine from a garden centre)
4. Any conditioner at your disposal – it needn’t be expensive but I like the “slip” that Tressemme naturals gives.
5. A wide-toothed comb (optional)
6. An oil of your choice (something light, grapeseed/jojoba or extra virgin olive oil)
- First you need to ensure your hair is ready for the takedown. For me this means deep conditioning the day or night before I decide I’m going to unplait my hair. If I’m feeling like it – I’ll make my own or use the Organic Root Stimulator one. Use whatever your hair responds well to.
- The hair will be flexible and less likely to break as it will be moisturised from the inside. The deep conditioner will also have loosened up the grime that accumulated at the end of new growth.
- Cut the braids with scissors to at least 5 cm away from where your own hair is visible.
- On takedown day I make sure I have uninterrupted time to myself. Nothing to do or get ready for or friends/family dropping. Just time to get the process done slowly but properly.
- I mix the conditioner and oil with some water and make a milky/oily emulsion in the spritzer bottle. Then I spray each individual braid that I’m working on, from root to tip; concentrating on where the braid begins (after my new growth). Then I coat my fingers with another oil or the same oil I’ve used in the bottle to make sure my dry hands don’t cause friction which is another cause of breakage and split ends.
- I then undo the braid using my fingers. Don’t rush but if you must especially for micro-braids – use a rat-tail comb that’s seamless. Some of you have fancier combs (Denman et alia) and that’s fine so long as the tool you’re using doesn’t snag. Check that it is a seamless tool (very important with plastic combs as manufacturers sometimes fuse two or more components to make it. The evidence of that is a ridge that lines most cheap combs. That can snag. Bin it. Use your fingers instead.)
- Once I get to the very beginning of the braid (root) I detangle the knotted mass using my fingers. Although the hair is much stronger and flexible from the deep condition the night/day before it’s best for me to save time by detangling as I go. That way I don’t get frustrated later on and rip it out. Once the braid is out and the hair is detangled, pin it away from the next braid so the don’t intertwine. Repeat the process and remember to remove any knots gently, so that you minimise breakage.
- After my entire head is braid free I give my scalp a quick massage to loosen up dirt before sectioning my hair. Then I wash, condition and deep condition again depending on how well I’ve taken care of my braids. If you still notice knotted bits, repeat the detangling process. Once you’re satisfied hair’s been thoroughly detangled wash out the product gunk and dirt with clarifying shampoo of your choice or a tea/apple-cider vinegar mix.
- Remember not to keep your braids in for too long as that plays a major role in hair breakage and bald spots. If you’re still experiencing hair breakage or loss read this.
About Your Hairline…
Please be extra gentle and careful around your temples and nape. That hair is fragile. Go slower and don’t pull too hard at the braids. Unbraid it all the way to the end even if you feel the braid has enough slip and will slide right off…