So you’ve got extensions and you’re wondering…ok, so now what!?!
In my case, the extensions I’m referring to are Senegalese twists and box braids. In case you missed my post on what to do prior to installing extensions, check out this article.
Pulling extensions too tightly on a regular basis can effect your scalp. A fear of mine is that the hair will actually be pulled out from so deep down that the effects of the damage cannot be reversed.
Dr. Kari Williams had this to say on Natural Chica, “Traction Alopecia is a result of the hair on the scalp being pulled too tightly, especially at the sides near the ears, at the nape of the neck and the front of the scalp. Styling techniques that create excess tension in this area cause the hair to break or pull out from the follicle prematurely. Traction alopecia is a type of scarring alopecia, which means when the scalp experiences the trauma of hair being pulled repeatedly, the body’s natural response is to protect itself. That protection comes in the form of follicular degeneration or the loss of follicular openings. Once your follicles disappear the hair, unfortunately, will not grow back.”
In 2012, I wore Senegalese twists for 6 weeks and box braids for 2 months. I tried to keep my twists and braids in loose styles. I also styled my hair in ways I could keep set for more than a day or two. That way, I’d tie my hair up at night (with a satin scarf of course) and it’d be set for the following day. This also stopped me from doing too much pulling and tugging at my braids. At times, I wore my hair in a loose bun for an entire week!
In between styling, I followed the LOC method every few days.
L: First use a leave in (or a water-based product). In my case I’d mist water on my hair or while in the shower I’d wet my hands and massage it onto my hair.
O: Second, use an oil of your choice. Oils seal in the moisture from water. I often used a mix of castor oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, and peppermint oil. (In case you’re wondering…castor oil adds strength to weak strands and helps with scalp issues. Jojoba oil relieves dry scalps, is a great massage agent for your skin, and has been known to smooth frizz. Avocado oil thoroughly moisturizes and softens stubborn, dry skin. Peppermint oil is full of nutrients, which is the basis for a healthy scalp, and it helps with itchy scalps as well.) Each of these have other uses/benefits and can be purchased at Whole Foods, among other locations.
C: Last, add a cream based moisturizer. I chose Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Conditioning Milk. I would rub this on the braids themselves, not my scalp. I wanted my strands which weren’t tucked within the braids to receive a little moisturizing.
And my last tip of things that worked for me: shampooing and conditioning on a regular basis. I do NOT believe in having a filthy scalp. I never understood how those using products on a regular basis can withhold shampoo and conditioner from their hair simply to keep braids and twists from getting frizzy. Nope. I can’t. I won’t. I must clean my hair. So, on a weekly basis, I’d gently massage my scalp with shampoo and then add conditioner to my braids. Nothing special. Same thing I’d do with my hair minus the kanekalon. Wet braids/twists can be heavy with the addition of extensions, so I’d wrap my hair in a large tee and pile it atop my head and sit still somewhere for a while. Surprisingly, they dried fairly quick each time. If you live in a warmer climate, it’d be great to sit outside in the sun for a bit to help the drying process move along quicker.
Feel free to share with me other upkeep tips that have worked for you!