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What Can I Do About Braids That Are Too Tight?

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Question: What Can I Do About Braids That Are Too Tight?

Depending on where you live and who braids your hair, you may pay anywhere from tens of dollars to hundreds. In most cases, kitchen braiders charge much less than those who work in salons, but you still want your money's worth. What happens when you leave the braider with your super-cute braid extension style and:

  • A: You're in pain. A lot of pain. For days.
  • B: You notice little bumps around your hairline that weren't there before. Oh, and you're in pain.

Answer:

Beauty should not hurt! If your head hurts, it's because your hair is braided too tightly, or you have too much extension hair added. In either situation, this doesn't bode well for the future of your hairline. Some braiders may tell you to take an aspirin and the pain should be gone by morning, but any pain is an indicator that something is wrong.

A braider may braid tightly so that the style lasts as long as possible, which is what most of us want, especially if we've saved up our hard-earned dollars to get the style. But tight tension is not good for your hair, hairline and scalp. Medium tension is best for fashioning braids; they may not last as long as tight braids, but your hairline will last much longer.

If you're a victim of headache-inducing braids, what can you do?

  • Use warm water to loosen them: Take a shower and let the water cascade over your hair. You may need to gently rub your scalp to loosen the braids a little. This is not the time to worry about how much money you just spent and how much time it took to style these braids, so don't think about that! Concern yourself with loosening up this tight style and saving your hairline.
  • Remove them: Yes, remove any braids that are causing little bumps to pop up on your scalp. This is not normal and can lead to hair loss down the road, especially if you make a habit of wearing tight braid styles. Do yourself a favor and see how your head feels when you're still in the stylist's chair. Does it hurt while she's braiding? That's the time to ask her to ease up on your hair. It's much easier for her to take a step back and possibly redo any braids during your appointment than it will be to call her up and ask her to redo them later. Plus, let's face it: not all braiders are going to take kindly to second day phone calls and they may refuse to do them over.
  • Do not return to tight braiders: Some braiders are notoriously hard on hair. Once should be enough to tell you that this is someone who doesn't care about the health of your scalp.

You can take pain relievers, spritz your braids with hair products, sleep sitting up like the Elephant Man if you like, but tight braids are tight braids. Traction alopecia is a serious issue in the black hair community and what makes it so tragic is that in the vast majority of cases, it's preventable. Don't let a hairstyle trump your hair's health.

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