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Braid Care: How to Take Care Of Your Braids & Cornrows

  1. Wash your hair by applying a diluted solution of shampoo to the scalp. Use the pads of your fingers to work the shampoo around the cornrows. Rinse thoroughly. It's recommended that washing your hair no more than every 7 to 10 days to avoid drying the hair too much.
  2. Apply a spray-in conditioner to restore moisture to your braids. You can use any leave-in conditioner or one formulated especially for braided hair. The conditioner will also tame any flyaway hairs and help them lie more smoothly against the braids.
  3. Dry hair completely before going to bed at night. Cornrows can take a long time to dry. If you sleep on them wet and they fail to dry, you could end up with funky-smelling hair, due to mold in the hair..
  4. Oil your scalp to keep it from drying out. Apply oil with the tips of your fingers between the braids. Try olive, jojoba, sage, rosemary or lavender oils. Avoid oils that contain heavy petroleum products, which can attract dirt to your hair and clog the pores of your scalp.
  5. Cover your hair at night to help prevent the hair from working out of the braids. Wrap your head with a satin scarf, du-rag or stocking cap before bed.

How To Undo Cornrows

Untangle the cornrows carefully with the point of a rat-tail comb. No yanking or pulling allowed! You don’t want to rip out chunks of hair. Use the comb to loosen up the cornrows, then use your fingers to finish up the detangling. Focus on one cornrow at a time. Don’t panic if you see hair falling out — this is completely normal.

How To Stop Cornrows From Itching

Your cornrows are itchy. Cornrows are complicated to scratch. You pick, and you pat. However, that annoying itch is inaccessible, buried deep under the braid.

  1. .Spray your scalp with braid conditioner. Apply to the roots and the length of your braids, to moisturize your scalp and hair. Apply it several times per day.
  2. If you’re in the privacy of your own home, indulge that itch with a toothbrush dipped in tea tree oil. The oil will invigorate your scalp, and the toothbrush will feel like heaven on earth.
  3. Apply a skin itch-relief spray to your scalp. They can be found at any drugstore. Try to get it just on your scalp, so it doesn’t gunk up your braids. Use a cotton swab to get in between the rows, if you need it.
  4. The good old pat-and-tap method works when you can’t apply a product to your head, such as when you’re behind the wheel. Tapping your head at the site of the itch will stop the itch.

How To Wash Cornrows

Cornrows are designed to last for days or weeks at a time, but what to do when it’s time to shampoo? Knowing how long it can take to put cornrows in, you don’t want to undo them every time your hair needs a wash. Keeping these stylish braids clean is pretty simple, whether your own hair is cornrowed or you’re wearing extensions for added length. Care for your cornrows properly and they’ll look fresh each day.

  1. Wash cornrows in the shower for best results. You want the water’s action to do most of the work, and keeping your braids in a vertical position is best for that.
  2. Saturate your hair thoroughly, but try not to disturb your cornrows. Remember, the water’s doing the work, so let your hands rest for now.
  3. Squeeze a small amount of shampoo in your hands and rub them together.
  4. Rub shampoo into your scalp, not your braids. Now work the balls of your fingers gently on your scalp, focusing on getting it clean.
  5. Let the water work the shampoo lather down the length of your cornrows. No need for heavy-duty scrubbing!
  6. Apply conditioner if your cornrows are your natural hair. If you’re wearing extensions, skip the conditioner because it’s slippery and may loosen those extensions you’re so crazy about.
  7. Rinse well in the shower and your cornrows are clean and fresh, ready to face another day.

Are Cornrows Bad For My Hair?

Cornrows Done Right
Cornrows, and braids in general, require a lot of tugging and pulling on the hair. It’s a catch-22. A lack of tension makes for fuzzy braids that have no staying power, while tight braids mean a possible headache and broken tresses. To minimize hair breakage, the hair braider should be skilled enough to braid tightly without causing pain. Since experience is the only way to learn about correct tension, look for a braider who has a portfolio and knows what she’s doing. Otherwise, it’s a fair bet that the braider will plait the hair too tightly or loosely.

Effect on Hair Cleanliness
Don’t think that cornrows make for funky, gunky hair. Cornrows don’t make your hair any more dirty than normal, and should have no effect on hygiene with regular cleansing. Gently wash braids with a moisturizing shampoo, then pat dry. Make sure to rinse the base of the cornrow so that it doesn’t collect excess shampoo, then use a spray-on braid moisturizer to finish. Air-drying the cornrows is actually good for the hair, since blow-drying can cause extra frizz and damage.

Cornrows and Baldness
Remember that super-tight cornrows pull hair and cause breakage. Repeat the process enough, and the follicle gives up the ghost and refuses to grow more hair. At that point, you’d have to use hair growth products to rejuvenate hair production. The ease of cornrows make them a tempting repeat hairstyle, but your hair needs a break from the constant stress and restriction. Keep away the baldies by leaving a few months between braiding sessions. Your hairline will thank you for it.


Other Damage
Just like relaxing or weaving, cornrows can cause trouble if you’re not careful. If the braids aren’t moisturized on a regular basis, or stay in for too long, you’re asking for trouble. The hair will mat together and tangle, making removal a nasty process resulting in increased hair loss. If cornrows are simply too much to resist, stick with a skilled stylist, and don’t get lazy about caring for those pretty tresses!

Braid Care: How to Take Care Of Your Braids & Cornrows

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