Washing children’s hair post African braiding can seem like a daunting task, given the intricacy of the braids and the delicate nature of a child’s hair. However, with a careful and systematic approach, you can maintain the health and beauty of the hair without causing any discomfort. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Detangle: Before washing, gently use your fingers to detangle any loose ends or tangles at the base of the braids.
- Gather Your Supplies: Have a sulfate-free shampoo, conditioner, wide-tooth comb, a towel, and lukewarm water on hand.
2. Wetting the Hair:
- Use Lukewarm Water: Ensure the water is neither too hot nor too cold. Gently wet the hair, making sure the braids are fully saturated.
- Dilute the Shampoo: Mix the shampoo with water in a squirt bottle, creating a diluted solution. This prevents product build-up.
- Apply Gently: Instead of pouring the shampoo directly, squeeze the diluted shampoo solution onto the braids. Gently massage the scalp using the pads of your fingers. Avoid aggressive scrubbing.
- Careful Rinsing: Use lukewarm water to rinse the shampoo. Make sure to remove all the shampoo residues from the scalp and braids.
- Apply Conditioner: Use a lightweight conditioner. Gently apply it over the braids and a bit on the scalp. For kids with particularly dry hair, you might opt for a leave-in conditioner.
- Rinse if Needed: If you’re using a regular conditioner, rinse it out thoroughly with lukewarm water. If you’re using a leave-in conditioner, proceed to the next step.
- Towel Dry: Gently press the braids with a towel to soak up excess water. Do not rub harshly, as this can cause frizz.
- Air Dry: Allow the braids to dry naturally. If needed, you can also use a hooded dryer on a cool setting. Avoid blow drying as the high heat can damage the braids and the child’s natural hair.
7. Moisturize and Seal:
- Apply a Hair Oil: Use a lightweight oil like coconut or almond to lock in moisture. Gently apply it to the braids and especially the ends.
8. Final Tips:
- Avoid Washing Too Often: Washing once every 1-2 weeks is usually sufficient. Over-washing can strip the hair of its natural oils.
- Protect the Hair at Night: Encourage your child to wear a satin or silk scarf or bonnet at night. This reduces friction and helps maintain the braids.
In conclusion, the key to washing children’s hair after African braiding is to be gentle and patient. With the right techniques and products, you can ensure that the hair remains clean, healthy, and beautiful.