Many styles of braids, including microbraids, cornrows, tree braids and plaits, are relatively low maintenance while in the hair. The difficult part is removing the braids and cleaning the hair afterwards, since it is very fragile and tends to break easily. When you remove braided hair extensions, take certain precautions to protect your hair as you wash it.
Spray a natural, oil-based spray directly onto the hair that is intertwined with the braids before removing them. For instance, use coconut, carrot or sunflower oil. This will protect the hair as braids are removed, making it less vulnerable to breakage as you clean.
Brush the hair using a natural-bristled brush before washing. Gently brush the hair to remove strands of extensions that are still attached once you have removed the braids.
Clean the hair using an oil-based product or waterless shampoo to help lubricate the locks. Apply it very liberally and lather into your hair between your fingers. This will detangle the hair and keep your locks smooth and healthy. Avoid washing or conditioning your hair with any products that dry strands or encourage locing.
Avoid using scissors or shears when cleaning. It may be tempting to cut out snarls or tangles that you discover during washing. However, cutting out tangles will only cause more damage to the shaft and the ends of the hair. Apply a detangler to snarls and tangles and gently comb the product through the hair with a large-toothed comb.
Ideally, rotate your braids every six weeks or less. If you leave braids in your hair too long, your natural locks latch onto the extensions and make it difficult to separate the two when you try to remove the braids.
Audrey Farley began writing professionally in 2007. She has been featured in various issues of "The Mountain Echo" and "The Messenger." Farley has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Richmond and a Master of Arts in English literature from Virginia Commonwealth University. She teaches English composition at a community college.