While it’s easy to think that the tighter your braids, the longer your style will last, too-tight braids can actually cause irreparable damage to your hair. The tension can take a toll on your scalp and strands, cause hair breakage and shedding, and even lead to damage or loss of your edges (traction alopecia is real).
A low-maintenance, long lasting protective style sounds like a great idea — that is until it’s no longer protecting your hair. It’s no judgment, many of us have been there: Post-braiding you have a sore scalp and tender roots. According to the Skin of Color Society (SOCS), you may even notice small flesh-colored or white bumps forming at the nape of your neck or hairline — a telltale sign that your hair is pulled too tightly. Yikes!
If you find yourself dealing with these issues from braids that are just too tight, it’s important to learn how to find relief ASAP. So to help you save your beautiful strands, we’re outlining a few easy-to-do tips to manage and loosen tight braids.
5 Ways To Loosen Tight Braids
Now that you have a better understanding of what tight braids can do to your hair health, it’s time to take action. Consider these five tips below to help you master the art of taking care of too-tight braids properly.
Tip 1. Wear Your Hair Down
One of the easiest things you can do to combat the feeling of tight braids is to wear your hair down. You may be tempted to toss your hair into a pineapple to preserve those crisp roots, but wearing freshly done braids in an updo can increase the amount of tension on your scalp and the level of soreness. Play it safe and leave your braids down until the roots loosen up a bit.
Tip 2. Reach For A Tension Spray
Another way to loosen tight braids is to rely on a braid or tension spray. This protective style essential keeps your woven masterpiece neat and moisturized, while also soothing a dry scalp. Many come with nozzles shaped to get products underneath tight box braids, tight cornrows, braids for weaves and wigs, and right to the roots. Be sure to use a light layer to keep product buildup at bay.
If you don’t have a braid spray on hand, you can also opt for a leave-in conditioner. The L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Super Curls Cream Leave-In and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Non-Stop Dreamy Curls Leave-in Conditioner are both lightweight offerings formulated to deeply nourish curls and waves. They also work to moisturize without weighing down your hair. Gently massage your leave-in conditioner of choice through your hair with your fingertips to help loosen your braids.
Tip 3. Give Yourself A Scalp Massage
Scalp massages should not only be reserved for your pampering sessions. They can actually help loosen your braids and soothe a sore scalp. Lay the groundwork for your scalp massage by reaching for hair serum, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Treatment. Apply a few drops to your hands and gently massage the oil into your scalp with your fingertips to achieve loose braids.
Tip 4. Wet Your Hair With Warm Water
Since tight braids can feel really heavy on your head, it’s not a bad idea to add warm water into the mix. Wet a washcloth with lukewarm water and gently massage it against your scalp or place a warm wet towel over your head and massage your scalp. Once complete, pat your mane dry with an old T-shirt or microfiber towel and your braids should have a looser feel.
Tip 5. Remove Your Braids
If the sore feeling is too much to bear, consider removing your braids. While you may be thinking about the money and time spent on the style, having a mane that feels comfortable is more important. As per the SOCS, traction alopecia is temporary but if hairstyling habits aren’t changed it can become permanent.
You can prevent dealing with tight braids by taking the appropriate measures before and during your styling session. Whenever you decide to get your hair braided, always be open with your stylist. If the braids are too tight, speak up in the moment — any reputable stylist will put your needs first for a seamless and painless braiding experience.
If you still find yourself with too tight braids, it’s time to seek out a new professional. There are plenty of stylists that can give you the gorgeous braids you want without the fuss and discomfort, because according to SOCS, the best treatment for traction alopecia is prevention.
Written by: Shalwah Evans, Photo Credit: Sarah Duvivier
Discover more tips & tricks