How to Wash Your Braids

Hollie Shirley / Hair & Skincare Editor

Follow our how-to for the best way to care for braids, twists, and locs

Protective styles such as braids, locs and twists are a great all year round option for protecting your natural hair, and also have the added luxury of requiring little to no day to day maintenance. Beyond shielding your hair from the harsh sun, styles like braids, twists, or faux locs can reduce excess breakage from heat styling, increase length retention, and protect against environmental damage. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they look pretty fabulous. However, it’s important to remember that while they don’t demand as much attention as your natural hair, you still need to look after your braids, and that includes washing and maintaining them.  It may sound like a daunting task, but it certainly doesn’t have to be! We’ve put together a handy guide for you.


Why do I need to wash my braids?

Although braids can last anywhere between two to eight weeks depending on which kind you go for and how you wear them, you should be prepared to cleanse roughly every two weeks. One of the few downsides to braids and similar styles is the itchy scalp. You know, the unrelenting itch that sets in after the first few weeks? While the kneejerk reaction may be to take down the braids, an easy solution to combat the itch is washing them. While washing braids can be tricky, you don’t want them to get prematurely fuzzy, doing so can be a game-changer.  If you’ve been swimming (or happen to sweat a lot), your scalp will require a bit of TLC. Think gentle (but thorough) with an emphasis on the partings.


 Start by pre-treating your hair
Even before you install your braids, a bit of legwork is required for your natural hair. Although braids can give your hair some rest it’s important to have them done by a professional who knows what they are doing and won’t make them too tight and properly maintain them. Before braiding, wash and condition your hair regularly and use hydrating deep conditioning treatments that will add moisture to your hair. This will ensure that your hair is properly prepped and ready to be styled and will be less likely to break during the braiding process.



Don’t rub your braids as you wash them
When you are under the shower, the best thing to do is to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo to get rid of the dirt and buildup in your scalp. This is the area that is going to be exposed and more prone to build up. Wash your hair from scalp to ends, with the movement going in a vertical angle—this will prevent frizziness at the roots and braids. depending on the type of hair (think human vs. synthetic), a small dollop of conditioner should be used on the ends only.

Immediately after washing, use a hot oil treatment to rehydrate your stressed scalp. Argan oil is a firm favourite due to the molecules being small enough to penetrate the hair shaft rather than sitting on top of your hair as a traditional oil would. Spraying braids daily with a leave-in deep conditioner will also keep your hair hydrated between washes.


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Dry them all the way before styling
Damp braids that aren’t properly dried can lead to some really unpleasant scalp issues, such as dandruff, fungus, and mildew—to name a few of the horrors. You can purchase hoods to attach to your hairdryer to mimic the hood dryer from the salon, or if you have time let your braids air dry for a full day. Do not pull the braids up into a style until they are completely dry, and don’t go to sleep on wet braids. When it comes to hitting the sack, remember to wrap your braids up in a silk wrap to protect your braids overnight.


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Make astringents your BFF
Need to skip hopping in the shower?  An ACV (apple cider vinegar) lemon, tee tree or witch hazel rinse is a quick and easy way to remove dirt and buildup from your scalp without washing. Astringents will break down dirt and oil on your scalp, and they’re a great option if you’re trying to increase the longevity of your style. You can buy pre-mixed versions or make your own at home to suit your own hair and needs. Remember to rinse thoroughly afterwards!


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Listen to your scalp
Remember, even if your hair is looking good, keeping your braids in for too long is a big no-no. As hair that sheds begins to accumulate, you’ll need to get rid of it one way or another. This excess hair can add extra stress on your own hair due to the added weight. When your scalp starts telling you it’s had enough (read: It gets uncomfortably itchy or feels heavy, coupled with frizzy and broken hair poking out of your braids), that’s when your braids will need to come out altogether.



Hollie Shirley
Hair & Skincare Editor

Hollie Shirley is SILKUP’s hair and skincare editor. She’s obsessed with all things hair care and results-driven skincare, that is kind to the environment and your wallet. She has a weakness for limited edition eyeshadows and is always testing out the newest and greatest deep conditioners. Hollie has a passion for hair and is studying Trichology, working towards becoming a Member of the Association of Registered Trichologists.