For centuries, braiding has been valued as both a stylish updo and a pragmatic protective measure for hair health. By neatly containing and separating strands, braids provide myriad benefits that boost integrity and growth. When braided gently and cared for properly, hair emerges stronger, more conditioned, and better retained at its ideal length. Below we detail the top reasons braids can be an excellent low-manipulation hairstyle.
Braids Shield Hair from Damage
One of the prime advantages of braiding is reducing exposure to environmental damage. The tightly woven plaits act as a protective barrier from wind, sun, pollutants and other elements that degrade hair. Braiding coats the most vulnerable part of each strand – the delicate cuticle – and prevents weathering.
Likewise, braids minimize abrasion from hats, scarves, pillowcases and anything else that creates friction against hair. The plaits diffuse this contact damage. Braids also thwart the ravages of humidity, blocking moisture saturation that leads to swelling and frizz. By cocooning hair in woven strands, braids provide all-around protection. Using a quality mousse like this one can further help keep braided hair looking its best.
Braids Lessen Manipulation and Breakage
In addition to shielding from external factors, braids decrease internal damage from over-handling. The average head of hair withstands dozens of manipulations per day during washing, combing, brushing, and styling. All this movement stresses the hair and can lead to fatigue breaks.
By taming hair into braids, you avoid continuous disturbances. The plaited sections can be left intact for days or weeks, only handled during the braiding process and occasional touch-ups. This decreased manipulation is a prime reason braids promote length retention as hair grows out. Strands tucked securely into braids experience less tugging, knotting and friction that cause breakage.
Braids Keep Hair Neatly Separated
Part of why braids prevent excessive handling is the way they keep hair meticulously separated into plaited compartments. Each section combs smoothly together before being braided into its own individual unit. This avoids hairs tangling together into knots – a prime source of ripped cuticles and shaft fractures.
The defined partitioning creates an organized framework where strands stay put within their braid. Without loose hairs interleaving, rubbing, and snagging, breakage from entanglement is essentially eliminated. Braids align and assemble hair into a tidy arrangement that detangles as it secures.
Braids Allow Hair to Rest and Recover
In addition to preventing damage, braids give hair a true chance to rest and recuperate. For overworked strands, a “time out” from heat styling, chemical treatments and excessive brushing is rejuvenating. Sealing away hair in protective braids removes these stressors and promotes healing.
With braids, the follicles are not continually being tugged and manipulated. This break boosts blood circulation to the scalp and provides unrestricted growth time. Strands rebuild bonds, reinforce elasticity, and repair damage when left alone in braids. Regularly alternating braid spells with looser styles balances hair health.
Braids Must Use Low Tension
To obtain the benefits above, braids must be installed gently and carefully. Excessively tight braiding places enormous tension on the scalp and strands. This traction damage can permanently compromise follicles. It is vital to avoid pulling braids too taut.
Ideally, braids should feel snug but not headache-inducing at the roots. If braids feel painful, use smaller sections to reduce tension. Clip hair fully smoothed before braiding to prevent catching and pinching. Avoid styles that tightly pull all hair towards the scalp. Monitor during braiding to catch any wincing that signals over-tightening.
Taking time to braid slowly and methodically, using the right techniques for each plait, creates secure styles without extreme tension. Periodically releasing old braids allows blood circulation to normalize.
Braids Keep Hair Nourished
The organized rows of braids allow for thorough conditioning as well – a key benefit for hair health. When loose, hair’s layered composition makes it hard to saturate every strand. Braids separate hair into manageable portions that receive equal coating of products.
Oils, creams and nourishers distribute fully from root to tip when applied to braids. These treatments can penetrate deeper thanks to the braid’s compact structure. The plaited segments can also be individually coated for targeted moisturizing of dryer areas. Keeping braided hair supple combats breakage.
Braids Require Minimal Maintenance
Once installed, many braided styles require very little daily styling or manipulation. The intricate plaits maintain their form for weeks at a time, allowing a low-maintenance wash and go routine. Braids can be simply spritzed with water, smoothed down, and refreshed as needed between shampoos.
Elaborate braided updos can make daily styling virtually obsolete. This saves considerable time and preserves the integrity of hair. The less hair is combed, brushed, heated, and handled, the stronger and healthier it remains. Braids promote a convenient hands-off approach.
Caring for Braids Properly
To maximize benefits, braided hair needs proper at-home care:
– Shampoo braids only 1-2 times per week to avoid over-drying and buildup. Freshen braids in between washes with moisturizing spray.
– Pat braids dry with an absorbent towel – avoid harsh rubbing. Air dry braids partially before going outside to prevent weather-related frizz and shrinkage.
– Lightly massage broths into your scalp when shampooing. Cleanse along the braid bases but avoid over-manipulating length.
– Sleep on a satin pillowcase to minimize friction. Cover braids with a scarf or bonnet to protect while sleeping.
– Schedule regular maintenance appointments to re-braid new growth and prevent unravelling.
While braids require some maintenance, proper techniques keep them neat and tight longer. Avoid over-manipulating and support moisture retention for maximized longevity and hair health.
The Takeaway: Braid Mindfully for Hair Benefits
When correctly installed and cared for, braided styles offer tremendous protective value. Braiding minimizes stressors, prevents damage, allows rest, and makes healthy haircare simpler. By thoughtfully utilizing braids, you grant hair a respite that lets it thrive at its healthiest and most beautiful. With the right approach, braids safely deliver their many structural and integrity benefits.