Everything You Should Know About Crochet Braids

Long gone are the days of sitting in a braiding salon for hours on end to have a protective style installed. This reclamation of precious time and hair health is thanks to crochet braids. Chances are good you’ve heard people sing the praises of crochet braids due to its easy installation. The styling technique not only shaves off time, but also opens up a wide range of styling options for just about any hair texture and style preference. What’s even better, is that many crochet braid styles can be created on your own without ever having to leave your house. Which means, you don’t need a skilled stylist or master weaver to pull off crochet braid styles. Here’s an easy-to-follow crochet braids tutorial—plus, everything that you need to know about choosing, styling, and preserving the right look for you.

What Are Crochet Braids?

The protective styling term refers to the weaving technique used to install human or synthetic hair into your own. The difference between a crochet braid and other braided styles is that a finished crochet look doesn’t have to be braids at all. You can rock curls, twists, or even a straight look—all using the crochet braid method. How, you ask? Let us explain.
Think of a crochet braid as a sew-in weave minus the thread or weft of hair. Instead, the crochet method uses loose extension hair—similar to the kind of hair you’d use to create box braids. The “braid” part of the technique refers to the base needed to latch and hook the extension hair through. As with a sew-in weave, the foundation of crochet braids is cornrows or box braids twisted with your natural hair.

If it sounds like you need some knitting skills to pull off crochet braids, think again. The technique does, however, require an actual needle. But this version, which is called a latch hook, is used purely to integrate the extension hair into your own. You can use an actual crochet needle, too, but the latch hook was designed specifically for the purpose of weaving hair.

So now you’re probably wondering what types of crochet braids are there? Well, the options are vast. You can even loop pre-braided twists on your cornrow base and have a full head of Senegalese twists in a fraction of the time you’d spend having them twisted at a braiding salon. The braided hairstyle options are plentiful. No matter which style you choose, the installation starting point is the same.

What Is The Benefit Of Crochet Braids?

There are plenty of reasons to choose crochet braids over other protective style methods, but the two biggest benefits are time and money. Once you get the hang of it, this DIY technique can spare you hours in a salon chair. And because you can do it yourself, all you’ll need to pay for is the extension hair itself.

Crochet braid styles also offer a more convenient way of caring for your natural hair under a protective style. Unlike weaves and wigs, which often leave very little of your natural hair or scalp exposed, crochet braids allow for easier hair washing and scalp moisturizing while you're wearing. Not to mention, you’re also protecting your hair from heat damage without compromising on style.

How Should I Prep My Hair For Crochet Braids?

As with any other protective styles, crochet braids should be installed on clean, detangled, and moisturized hair. The goal, in addition to looking good, is to give your natural hair underneath some time to rejuvenate—so your hair should be in optimal shape beforehand. Gather up the right shampoo and conditioning hair treatments before you begin.

For starters, clean your hair and scalp thoroughly with a sulfate-free shampoo that breaks down old product build-up, dry scalp, and excess oils. The Cactus Rose Water Sulfate-Free Shampoo gently clears away impurities without leaving hair feeling stripped and parched.

Once your strands are clean, pump some moisture back into your mane with a rinse-out conditioner like the Monoi Repairing Conditioner. This formula will also help to strengthen hair and reduce breakage, which is beneficial once you start cornrowing and weaving the latch hook through your strands.

Laying a moisture foundation with a conditioner or a hair mask will also help make the detangling process a lot smoother—literally—so don’t skip this step. You don’t even have to completely rinse out the conditioner before adding a combing creme to aid in the detangling process. The combination of two natural hair care products like the Coco Creme Creamy Conditioner and the Hair Milk 4-in1 Combing Creme will create slip on your hair to help melt away knots with ease. Having tangle-free hair will not only make your looping process more seamless, but it can prevent your hair from matting and shedding once you take your crochet braids out.

Don’t forget to spritz in the castor oil-laced Goddess Strength Divine Strength Leave-In Milk for extra fortifying and heat protection if you plan to blow dry your hair before weaving cornrows. Then, once your cornrows are in, be sure to oil your scalp with the Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Scalp & Hair Oil. The pointed nozzle on the cap makes swiping the product down your parts a breeze.

After prepping your hair, you’ll need to gather up your crochet braid tools, which include a latch hook and crochet braids hair. The number of hair packs needed depends on the style that you’re going for. To be safe, have at least four packs for short crochet braids; and around to seven packs of hair for long crochet braids.

How To Care For And Maintain Crochet Braids

Prioritizing scalp care with a crochet braid install is crucial, and hair oils can help. This includes moisturizing your scalp regularly with a lightweight oil. The Monoi Oil Sacred Strengthening Serum is a great fortifying option that’s not too heavy but deeply moisturizing.

If you went with natural or human extension hair over synthetic hair, you can, in fact, wash your natural crochet braids. Twisted or braided crochet braids hair may get a bit frizzy when washed, but you can always smooth a combination of hair oil and a dab of the Mimosa Hair Honey across your crochet braids hair to slick down any stray strands.

Depending on how well you care for your crochet braids, expect your install to last at least four weeks. Plan to remove them after no later than eight weeks. Be sure to protect your style at bedtime in the same way that you would your natural curls. This means wearing a bonnet or satin scarf to bed to keep hair from drying out, getting matted, or frizzing up.

The Best Crochet Braid Hairstyles

The versatility of crochet braids is vast and growing. You can create everything from a fluffed out afro using natural crochet braids to a sleek waist-length blowout. Here are some of the more popular crochet braid styles that are relatively easy to DIY. For visual assistance, simply find a crochet braids tutorial on YouTube as a guide.

Faux Locs
These come as individual pre-twisted locs that you weave in one by one.

Passion Twists
These crinkled two-strand twists are also installed individually.

Senegalese Twists
These look like smooth and silky two-strand twists that you can install using a single hair color or mix with added highlights.

Medium Afro
Weave in short crochet braids in a more textured finish, and then fluff it out into a statement afro. For even more wow, use a hair color that’s different from your natural tone.

Straight Blowout
Looping long, sleek, or even roughly blow-dried hair through your own can give you the look of a fresh-from-the-salon blowout—minus the heat damage.

Marley Twists
Marley Twists have a similar look to Senegalese twists, except these twists are more rope-like. Plus, the texture of the hair itself is more spiraled and less silky-looking.

Looking for even more set it and forget it styling options? Well, you’re in luck. Here’s Your Guide to Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair.

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