Whether you've worn your hair natural for years or you're just transitioning from relaxed to natural -- protective styles such as braids and twists are an important part of your journey. Braids give your hair a break from styling, and, according to natural-hair guru Nikki Walton of CurlyNikki.com, they help you retain length. To keep your hair healthy, you'll need to moisturize it even when wearing a protective style. Conditioning your braids also helps make them easier to detangle when you take them down.
Spray your hair with water every day, or wet it lightly in the shower. Spritz until your hair is damp but not soaking wet. Add five to ten drops of essential oils such as tea tree, peppermint or lavender to the water in your spray bottle to help stimulate your scalp, soothe itching and scent your hair.
Apply leave-in conditioner to your damp hair by working it into your braids with your hands. If you don't have leave-in conditioner, your regular rinse-out conditioner also works as a leave-in when you dilute it. You can also add 3 to 4 tablespoons of leave-in conditioner to another spray bottle full of water and spritz your hair lightly with the mixture and massage the conditioner through your braids.
Seal your hair with oil -- after applying the leave-in conditioner -- with Jojoba, avocado, grapeseed, castor or coconut oil. Pour the oil into a spray bottle and spray it on. Alternatively, you can also pour a few drops into your hand and work it into the length of your braids by gently rolling each braid between your palms.
Leave silicone-free, deep conditioner in your hair overnight once or twice per week. Cover your hair with a shower cap while you sleep -- your body heat will help the conditioner to penetrate your hair. Rinse your braids in the morning and wrap them in a microfiber towel to absorb excess water.
Shampoo your braids weekly or every two weeks with sulfate-free moisturizing shampoo or cleansing conditioner. Follow with a rinse-out conditioner, then seal your damp hair with Jojoba, avocado, grapeseed, castor or coconut oil.
S.R. Becker is a certified yoga teacher based in Queens, N.Y. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Becker often writes for "Yoga in Astoria," a newsletter about studios throughout New York City.
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