When taking out braids - every second counts (especially with little ones). Here are my tips...
1. Get Comfortable
Find a position and a form of entertainment that you both love. The unbraiding process can take hours or days, so you want to make sure everyone enjoys the process.
2. Take Your Time
I know this post is about a quick process and I still believe these tips will help you accomplish that. But it's also important to be patient with the process. You're dealing with one of the most fragile parts of the body - the crown. Relax and take your time, so that you do not unintentionally matte the hair or rip any strands.
3. Start At The Back
Starting at the back ensures that you are prepared for interruptions. That way if it takes you multiple days to take out the braids, you can simply pull the hair back in a bun/ponytail and no one will know that you are in the middle of a take-down.
4. Oil Hands & Strands
I rub a small amount on my hands and over their braids to lessen the friction and prevent the hair from knotting.
I also keep my hands lubricated with oil, so that the hair doesn't cut my hands (especially if you are taking out a lot of braids).
Lastly, lubricating with oil also helps condition the hair before we wash it.
5. Condition The Ends
Our ends are typically the driest parts of the hair. So hydrating them before manipulating them, prevents breakage. The hair is also more pliable and the braids come out faster and more smoothly. I pump a small amount directly on the ends of the hair and rub it in. Here's our favorite conditioner -- it has a bunch of healthy ingredients to nourish your little one's hair. But if you're looking for a more affordable option, try this brand.
6. Use A Rat Tail Comb
Using the proper tools ensures a quicker, smoother and damage-free process. We have used our fingers and pens, but using a metal rat tail comb makes the process so much faster.
Just put the metal tip at the end of the braid and slide it down. As it loosens and unravels the braid, keep moving up the plait stitch by stitch. The braids come out quickly and painlessly - no knots.
7. Hydrate As Needed
Depending on how long you've had the braids in, the hair may be matted at the start of the braid. Apply a little conditioner to dampen the hair and gently detangle with the rat tail comb.
8. Remove Lint
Lint may also collect at the start of the braid. Again, use the fine-tooth comb to gently loosen the lint and separate it from the strands. Removing the lint prior to washing the hair, also ensures that it doesn't turn into a sticky substance that may be a little harder to remove.
9. Remove Shed Hair
After removing lint, this is also the perfect time to remove shed hair with your detangling brush. Dry brushing should be relaxing, because the hair has been stretched in the braids, oiled and conditioned in the take out process. Again, depending on how long you've had the braids in, will determine how much shed hair you will have. After a month of braids, we can have a couple of handfuls of shed hair.
10. Solicit Extra Hands
I’m pretty picky about who I allow in our girls' hair. However, I do welcome when family offers to take out their braids. As they age, I will teach the girls how to unravel their own hair so that we can tackle the process together. If you're interested in having a hair take-down movie night, definitely invite friends and family to expedite the process and make it a fun tradition.
Now for the bonus tips. The following will help you prep the hair for an easy take down.
11. Maintain Smooth Ends
Clean ends are easier to manipulate. When strands are free from fairy knots and split ends, they slip past each other more easily. So keeping your ends as neat as possible will save you tangles and time. You don't need to do regular trims for smooth ends. Simply keeping the ends well hydrated with a good conditioner should keep them healthy.
12. Be Mindful Of How The Braids Are Installed
Make sure the hair is properly cleansed, hydrated, detangled, and neatly braided. This ensures that the braids will naturally unravel as you use the tips above.
13. Make Bigger Braids
The best way to make sure that the braid take down process doesn’t take too long is to not create so many. The more braids you have in your head, the smaller they typically are.
Not only does installing tiny braids take a long time, but it also takes a longer time to take them out - especially when we are trying to keep their tiny heads still.
When installing braids, I make sure that the sections aren’t too small, so that the braids will be big enough to easily take down.
14. Leave The Braids In As Long As Possible
Our three-year-old can go weeks wearing the same plaits. At times, I will wash her scalp but keep the braids in.
I'm still convinced, doing hair should not be a stressful process for me or her. As long as the braids are not matted and the hair feels soft, I know that it is healthy - which means we keep her styles in for as long as possible.
When it does come time to do her hair, she understands the quicker we get it done the faster she can play.
What problems are you facing when taking out your braids? If you use a lubricant, what do you use? What makes your hair take down process go smoothly?
Until next time...
Love The Journey,