It seems the cost of extensions has risen along with food and gas prices. There was a time when you could get a full head of braids in a girlfriend's kitchen for under $50. Today, however, it is harder and harder to find a freelance braider with the skills to make a straight braid at an affordable price. Salons offer perfect braided hair extensions, but at the prices of a mortgage payment, many women have to do without. Here are the instructions on how to braid extensions. Use them on yourself, or start your own part-time braiding business.
Prepare the hair. Both the extension hair and your hair need to be prepared for braiding. Wash and condition your hair thoroughly. Dry it. If using synthetic hair, soak it in hot water with apple cider vinegar to remove some of the acrylic coating. Wash the human hair extensions and dry them. This will make the extensions softer and easier to use.
Section the hair into four parts. Clip three sections to keep it out of the way. On the unclipped sections, make a one inch, or less, square piece of hair. This is your braid section. The size of the braid section depends on the type of braid you are trying to make. Micro braid extensions require a 1/8 inch section, while individual braids can be up to 1 inch. After creating your braid section, clip the rest of the hair away from the braid.
Take a small section of extension hair and wrap it around the braid section, leaving one side with at least a three-inch overhang on the left side. Your hair is in the middle, and on the left side is a very long piece of synthetic hair. Begin braiding by pulling tight. Take your hair over the left piece; your hair is now on the left. Take the middle piece over the right piece, and the new middle piece over the left. Now, your hair section is in the middle. Continue in this manner until all of your hair is almost incorporated in the braid. At that point, take small pieces of each extension section and incorporate them into your hair's section. Continue braiding until all of your hair is braided (for micro braids) or the entire length of hair is braided (for individual braids).
Finish the braid. If micro braiding, you must make a slipknot. Take two strands of synthetic hair away from the main section. Take it out from the braid, over two fingers, over the braid and through the hole made between the braid and the fingers. Pull the two strands up to tighten. Repeat eight to 10 times to secure the braid. For individual braids, you can dip synthetic hair in hot boiling water, and roll in the fingers to seal, use an electric sealer or glue the ends.
Repeat on the rest of your hair. Braiding, especially micro braiding takes a long time to complete. I recommend that you begin your hair with the front sections, so that you can pull it back if you have to go out with a head half full of long hair. Take care of your extensions and they will last a month or more.
Jonita Davis is freelance writer and marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "The LaPorte County Herald Argus" and Work.com. Davis also authored the book, "Michigan City Marinas," which covers the history of the Michigan City Port Authority. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University.