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FEATURES Sep 17 2012 2:56PM

How to Make Your Braid-Outs Last for 7 Days

by GG Renee Hill, TheWriteCurlDiary.com

When I first started wearing braid-outs, I would either rebraid my hair every night or I’d put it in a high ponytail and throw on a satin cap at bedtime, hoping that it would fall out okay in the morning.  I still do these things sometimes, but now I have a tried-and-true process that works for me when I want to ensure that I’ll get through a full week without having to spend more than 10 minutes a night on my hair.  I’m going to walk you through this process, and keep in mind that this could also work for a twist-out depending on your preference.
Start with very clean, moisturized hair.

I swear by the following process: deep conditioning treatment, shampoo or conditioner cleanse, oil rinse, rinse out condition. If your routine is not working for you, try this.  Your hair will feel like butter when you’re done.  In order for your hair to require minimal additional moisture throughout the week, you must do a thorough job of layering it in on wash day.  Before you section and braid your hair, apply a water-based leave-in, and a rich moisturizer to seal that in.  You may also prefer to use a styling cream for hold, but I find that most styling creams result in buildup for me.

Keep the braids in for as long as possible.

You must leave ample time for it to dry.  This is crucial to a long-lasting set.  If you have limited time, you can sit under a dryer for a while before you go to sleep. You can go to sleep with a bonnet dryer on your head. I’ll often put a floor fan next to the bed and sleep with it right on me all night. Whatever you need to do, be sure to let it dry completely, or the rest of the process will fall short of expectations.

When you take them down, your first style will be a bun or updo.

When you first take out your braids, be gentle and try to manipulate the hair as little as possible.  Pull it all up into a bun or pinned updo.  The intention here is to get as many days as possible out of the initial work you did on hair day. You can easily get two to three days out of a beautiful twist-out bun before you even let your locks out to play. 

Moisturize and fat twist at night.

In order to maintain the wave definition from your braid set, section your hair at night (using only your fingers!) into about five or six pieces and put in some fat twists.  As far as product goes, I may spray a very light gust of water or a leave-in and put some coconut oil on my fingers as I twist. Be very sparing though and really just focus on your ends and any spots that look a little dry or frizzy. Go to bed with a clear plastic conditioning cap over the twists and a scarf or bonnet over that. This method really helps the heat from your scalp naturally remoisturize your hair.

Let down your hair.
After a couple of days, if you’ve stuck to the little to no manipulation rule, your hair should still be reasonably defined and ready come out and show off.  At this point, you can separate it, pull it apart, stick it up, pick it out or do whatever you want.  In the summertime, all I have to do is step outside and the humidity gives it just the right amount of swell.  At night, I follow the same moisturize and fat twist process that is detailed above. 

Protect your ends.
Throughout the week, remember to pay attention to how your ends are doing. Not only can they make or break your hairstyle, it's also important that you moisturize and seal them when necessary. Sometimes when we’re seeking styling solutions that last for several days, we forget that our ends will still need some type of daily attention to avoid splits and knots.  Remember, their health is the key to length retention and overall healthy hair.  
Do you think this process could work for you?  Do you plan to try it?


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