Braiding Natural Hair: Tips to Live By


How many times have you acted like a trip to the braider’s is a necessary evil? Hey girl, yes you, you know you have! I know I used to. You want those gorgeous marley twists but then you remember your last braiding visit – what was it, 6 months ago? You cringe.

I am here to tell you, girlfriend, it don’t got to be that way. You don’t have to suffer PTSD (post traumatic stress) after every visit to the braider. How? 

Only a few can give your hair the love it deserves

Never forget this. It is no secret that women with natural hair have learned and (mostly) enjoy taking care of their hair themselves. Do you remember your first visit to any salon – braiding or otherwise –  after you went natural (and perfected your hair care routine)? Were you disappointed? Did it hurt to swipe your card or exchange those bills? If yes, I say it is perfectly normal. Ain’t nobody know about you and your hair story like you do. So ain’t nobody can do yo hair like you do. Seriously, forget a stylist’s expertise.

Ain't nobody can do yo hair like you do. Click To Tweet

With this in mind, remember that the onus is then on you to take away most of the burden that comes with braiding your hair. More often than not, you will be getting your hair braided by a person who claims to not “understand” natural hair and who is secretly wishing that you would let them comb some relaxer through your hair. You can and really should prep your hair prior to getting it braided. Be deliberate about this. Braiding your hair begins with you, in your sink/ bathroom.


Wash and Clarify

If you are getting your hair braided, chances are that you want those braids in for longer than a week or two. If that is the case, it is only fitting that you begin with clean hair. Your hair collects product build and dirt from the atmosphere when it is in braids and no matter how much cleaning you do, you will not be able to rid it of all of the dirt. If this is the reality, you do not want to have that dirty scalp itch only a few days into wearing your braids. Remember to clarify. If you are a co-wash girl, then do a clarifying rinse in addition. My go-to is the ACV rinse.

Deep Condition

Do not underestimate the value of moisture in your hair. Well conditioned hair is not only a joy for a braider to work with but will go a long way in actually helping your chosen protective style in doing its job – protect. We have all heard that extensions can dry out your hair. True – if and only if you do not prevent the drying. If you braid unconditioned hair, when you take down your braids, you will be welcomed by dry strands. If you braid unconditioned hair and are diligent in caring for your scalp and hair while it is in the braids, after take down, your hair may still be dry. However, combining a good pre-braiding deep condition treatment with diligent braid care practice, you are sure to be greeted with hair that still feels moisturised.


If you carry your tangled hair to the braider, you are on your own oh! Don’t get it twisted – no braider will detangle your hair properly and with enough patience. You WILL lose hair. You WILL weep. And you WILL get an earful of complaints. Don’t do it. I usually detangle while there is deep conditioner in my hair. I detangle in six sections and twist back each section after detangling.


LOC in moisture

Remember what we said about moisture? After washing and rinsing your hair, you want to lock in that moisture. The LOC (liquid-oil-cream) method is tested and trusted. As you would have just washed your hair, all you need is an oil and then cream.

LOC in that moisture! Click To Tweet

Stretch before Braiding

Twists. Braids. Threading. Blowout. Do something and stretch your hair. Not only that, keep it stretched by arriving at the braider’s in chunky twists or braids.

Scalp care

I suffer from dandruff and so I do not take scalp care for granted. From oiling your scalp to massaging lightly with tea tree oil – whatever routine works for you, remember to do this before getting your hair braided. Although you will have access to your scalp in the weeks when your hair is in braids, this access will not be the same as you would when your hair is out.

Finally, if your hair is long enough, section into four parts and keep each section twisted. You might have to argue a little but have the braider(s) work per section. This means that if a section is not being worked on, it stays twisted. This helps to keep the hair stretched and detangled and frankly, easier to braid.


Getting the best braiding experience begins with you Click To Tweet

Now to you, beauts. Do you pay attention to preparing your hair for braiding or do you just show up regardless of the state your hair is in? Since going back to natural, what has your experience at the braider’s been? Let’s swap stories!

– MeeMee


11 Replies to “Braiding Natural Hair: Tips to Live By”

  1. I’m so hooked to ur blog,I’m planning to go for braids soon,to all these rules I’ll add a protein treatment & I’m sure my next braiding experience will be a beautiful one keep up the good work.

  2. It’s my first time on your blog and yes ! You just got a faithful reader. It’s always a sad time when I want to braid my hair. I’m guilty of doing all the wrong things. I’ll definitely try this when next I want to braid my hair.

  3. Thanks for the tips MeeMee, I only thought your need to do a proper protein treatment before a protective style, I didn’t think moisture can be incorporated before your PS.

    1. Oh yes, protein treatment is good – definitely (but not everyone needs one prior to braiding). Moisture is universally important, however. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  4. This routine is so key after some many bad experiences in my first year on being natural I stuck to this since then …. Last Christmas while I was in Nigeria I made the rookie mistake of going to a non natural salon near my house to get my hair washed and kinky twist put in because i was lazy and didn’t want to deal with my hair ……biggest mistake ever post wash my hair was so dry I had to ask for a steam session installing the kinky twist was another issue and I’m not even tender headed it was just an awful experience tbh …. Never again the only good thing that came out of this was I retained length because I left them in for 2 months

    1. I feel your pain, girl! I have had similar experiences where I was close to tears. Now, I’m just like, I’ll sort myself out and if I absolutely need you, I better help myself not to feel the pain. But yay to length retention! Haha.

  5. Hi MeeMee….lovely post. U know, with hair prepped or not, I dread those visits to the salon. Sadly the ” natural hair” salons here in the part of Nigeria where I live are soooo expensive. Like I wrote earlier, I usually to wash n prep my hair before going to get it braided till this one time I was in so much of a hurry n just braided without even washing. OMG it was hellish….itched from day 1. By default I have very sensitive scalp n if I change braiders it’s either I have these lil boils all over or it itches. So that incidence was a combination of 2 errors. Everyone was like “ah the girl dey plat hair for Africa” n I took my unwashed ” African” hair (lol) to the girl…..the rest is history. Plus the pulling, the harsh combing …..well i couldnt take it dwn in just 2wks cos i paid a lot (4k is plenty o…..pls dont cuss me out….lol) So really….no one should ever go get their hair done without washing and properly detangling.
    Thanks again meemee.

    1. Thanks for reading, Mary! You shouldn’t feel the dread when you prep though. Don’t let anybody bully you into feeling that way oh when you are paying for a service. lol.

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