If only there was a magic pill we could take that would make our hair grow as long as we wanted it too, wouldn’t that just be amazing?!!
I’m sure most if not all of us would be standing in that cue right now. We all want our hair to grow long and be healthy but how do we go about achieving that if the magic pill just doesn’t exist?
Well there is one thing that we could consider: Braids for hair growth
Wearing braids is a great way to get some hair growth going.
Let’s take a closer look.
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What are braids?
In its most raw form, a braid is simply when 3 strands of hair are intertwined amongst each other to create a pattern.
There are many ways that you can create braided styles with your hair.
You can choose to use your own hair or add extensions to your hair to make your hair appear longer than it actually is.
You can use your own hair to do lots of individual braids or you can go the complete opposite direction and have your hair braided into 2 pigtails if you wish.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to be focusing on braiding your hair with added extensions like these.
Are there different ways to braid your hair?
There are many different ways to braid your hair and some will be more effective than others. We can take a look at a few so we can see the differences between them.
Micro braids are tiny individual braids. These types of braids take hours and hours to complete as each braid is made up of only a few small strands of hair. Some people choose to do this style by only braiding the hair at the roots and then leaving the rest of the hair free.
It really is an individual choice but most people will make the decision based on how long they want to sit and wait for it to be completed.
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Box braids are very popular for those of us with natural hair. They don’t take hours and hours to complete and they look truly stunning once completed.
Although these are not “technically” a braid they are treated in the same way that you would treat a braid. They are usually made to be quite chunky similar to the box braid.
If you have always wanted to see what locs would look like on you now is your chance to give it a go.
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Crochet braids are done slightly differently to other types of braided hairstyle. Your natural hair is cornrowed and the extension is then weaved on to your hair using a special threading needle.
If you don’t have time to sit down and wait for each individual hair to be braided then this could be a great compromise for you.
How does having braids help your natural hair to grow?
The beauty about having your hair braided is that it gives your real hair the opportunity to rest.
Hair grows best when it is left alone. Just look at those that have natural locs. Just because they have locs it does not give access to some special hair growth treatment. The hair is just being left alone causing less breakage and tension on your hair and scalp.
Braiding your hair with extensions can give you a similar effect as long as you have treated your hair in the proper way before installing the braids.
On a day to day basis, we brush, we pull, we tug, we stretch and we do so many other things to our hair.
All of these things can cause your hair to break depending on how harsh you are being with it.
Choosing to use braids can help to alleviate that for a time.
Having braids on its own does not cause your hair to grow but it rather allows your hair to rest in a protected state. This is why having your hair braided is often called a protective hairstyle.
Your hair is kept away from the elements and given time to rest.
Is there a special way to treat your hair before braiding?
There sure is!
The key to looking after natural hair is to always make sure that it is well moisturised.
Your hair must be moisturised before you put it into braids. Moisture makes the hair strands more pliable and easy to manipulate. When your hair is dry it is much easier for strands of hair to snap and break.
Before you think about installing braids make sure you are starting on freshly washed hair.
Related post: Why you should use sweet almond oil in your hair
How do you maintain your hair whilst in braids?
Just because your hair is in braids does not give you a licence to neglect it. Yes, it is in a protective hairstyle but your scalp still needs to be treated and your hair can still get dry under those braids.
Some people even wash their hair whilst their hair is still in braids.
You can do this too but just note that it could make the braids become quite frizzy.
How long should you keep braids in for your hair to grow?
I know some people like to keep their braids in for months and months but personally speaking, I’m just not about that life.
For me it gets to a point that hair just needs to be washed properly and doing so whilst in braids is just not the same.
I only like to keep my hair in braids for 3-4 weeks at a time.
You don’t have to be like me though especially if you have invested a lot of money in getting your hair done but as a rough guide, I would say you shouldn’t keep your hair in braids for longer than 6-8 weeks maximum.
You need to maintain your scalps health and your strands need to be kept fully conditioned regularly.
If you don’t want your hair to come out in a worse state than when it went in you should definitely monitor how long you are keeping your hair in braids for.
Keeping your hair in braids for too long is completely counterproductive to your hair growth.
When braids get loose does that mean your hair is growing?
If you see that your braids are getting loose at the roots it could be that your hair is growing but this is not always the case.
It could actually be a combination of things.
If you have been doing a lot of pulling with your braids especially putting it up in a high ponytail and things like that then you could have caused your braids to move.
Also if you have been washing your hair regularly it could be that you have caused the braid to slip making it seem as though your hair is growing.
You really need to assess it for yourself to be able to know if you are having hair growth or not.
How do you know if your hair is growing with braids?
The only way to really know if your hair is growing with braids is to look at the root to see if the braids look looser not.
As explained above if you have been washing or tugging a lot on your hair it could also be slippage so bear this in mind.
Can braids damage your hair?
The short answer is yes they can if they are not handled properly.
Braiding your hair too tightly is one way that a lot of people damage their hair.
I know we all want our hair to look good especially when it is first done but pulling your hair too tightly can actually cause bumps and damage your hair follicles. Once your follicle is damaged hair can’t grow out from it anymore.
This is why you see a lot of young ladies with their edges all gone. The edges of your hair are very delicate so you should treat them as such.
Aside from follicle damage too much tension on your hair strands can cause breakage too.
Micro braids are the worst type of braids for your hair unless you know how to care for them properly.
Micro braids only use a small number of strands of hair so breakage is much more likely to occur. If you do choose to have micro braids be sure to not cause too much tension with them.
Are there braids that don’t damage your hair?
All braids if not managed correctly can cause damage but if you are looking for the best type of braid to do for minimal damage then that has to be the box braid or something similar.
The box braid is much safer on your hair because each braid is thick giving it more strength and resistance to easy breakage.
Are crochet braids damaging to hair?
Not necessarily all by itself.
If there is going to be damage it will likely come from the way the threading of the braid is done.
If the cornrows are pulled too tightly and then you try to weave the braid on as well it can cause your hair follicles to become damaged and even cause traction alopecia.
To avoid this make sure that your hair is never cornrowed too tightly.
Final thoughts on having braids for hair growth
Braids are a really great way to give both you and your hair a break. If treated in the right way it can actually help enough to keep any hair growth that you get to remain and grow your hair long.
If you have been struggling with maintaining your hair growth then having braids is a great way to help you out.