Getting Braids Again Is Easily The Best Hair Decision I’ve Made In 2017
A couple of months ago I wrote about the opinion that there’s a certain age when braids become a no-no for grown women. Well, I decided three days before turning 32 that it was the perfect time for me to re-rock the hairstyle I always wanted to wear as a child but couldn’t because my mother didn’t have cornrowing hands. I was also on my way to South Africa for 12 days and I couldn’t be bothered to pack hair products on top of all of the “just in case” outfits I was already struggling to fit in my luggage. And I knew when that 6 am wakeup call came in before one of our early morning safari game drives I was not going to want to lose another minute — or 5 –wrestling with my edges and Eco Styler gel. On the flip side, however, I didn’t want to wrestle with a lack of edges when I returned from the motherland and had to go back to wearing my own hair.
That fear is why I haven’t worn braids since 2014. Other than one of y’all telling me my jumbo Havana twists made me look like predator (rude!) what really stopped me from wearing twists and braids during the past three years is the fact that I once gave one overzealous braider free reign over my head and my little 3c edges just couldn’t withstand the weight of the extension and the tightness of its attachment. The braid fell out and took my baby hair with it – in my hotel room right before dinner during EssenceFest in New Orleans – and I was done with what I now considered a “so-called protective style.”
And then I saw this hairstyle created by YouTuber Kersti Pitre that I couldn’t get out of my head, even as I sat in a chair getting the blowout of my life before being told I’m going to have to chop off a good chunk of my hair (again). I thought, maybe now’s a good time to get on the protective style train. In fact, maybe I need to take it across country since I don’t seem to be able to take care of my own hair for an extended amount of time without having to lose some of it. So, despite the sarcastic comments from those who teased me about the cliché move of getting braids before boarding a flight to Africa, I decided to go for it.
Since I already had the style in mind, all I had to do was get the hair. I chose X-Pression Braid Hair in the color 1 which automatically comes in 82″ length. If you’re more adventurous than me, you’ll be happy to know aside from the traditional shades of black, brown, and blonde, this braid hair also comes in blue, pink, purple, red, violet, and yellow (it’s summer, live a little!).
Hair in hand, I headed to 125th street which is notorious for African braiders who ask “Hair braid miss?” even when you walk by with a perfectly laid ‘do. And about four hours later, my style was complete and I was listening to two braiders tell the other women they want their hair like mine next time. I also noticed my head and neck didn’t feel heavy like they did in the past when I would get braids, which is a testament to the lightness of this synthetic hair. And I walked out of the shop with 4.5 of the 7 packs of hair that I came in with which was good news to me, especially since the hair can also be used for crochet styles which typically take even less time than braids.
As you can imagine, life over the next two weeks was pretty easy — wake up, decide, if I want to wear all my hair up in a bun, half way up, or all the way down, and go. I also found I wasn’t so paranoid about my edges because my hair was braided to my head in the front and enough hair had been added to the two braids on each side to keep from putting too much tension on my own hair. To add shine and keep my own strands from drying out, I sprayed Maui Moisture Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Weightless Oil Mist on my braids and scalp each morning.
Unfortunately, just as I’d forgotten how convenient braids can be, I forgot that they do require just a bit of maintenance. Without a silk scarf abroad, after two weeks I decided the frizz that was creeping up was a sign it was time to take my braids out. But soon as I did I already missed the convenience of not having to do my hair in the morning and of always looking ready to go — without really doing anything. I’ve also become more aware of just how much I manipulate my hair, especially the ends, on a daily basis which is probably why I keep having split end and breakage issues. My hair needs a break. Good thing I have those other packs of hair left, I’m ready to ride the protective braid train throughout summer.