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How To Easily Take Out Your Child's Small Braids (Without Damaging Their Hair)

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 take down process can take hours or days, so you want to make sure everyone enjoys the process.

How long does it take to take out your child's braids?

  • 0-1 hour

  • 1-2 hours

  • 2+ hours

2. Take Your Time

I know this post is about a quick process and I still believe these tips will help. 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 out.

3. Start At The Back

Starting at the back ensures that you are prepared for any interruption. 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. Condition The Ends

After days or months being in braids, our ends are typically the driest parts of the hair. So hydrating them before manipulating them, prevents breakage and provides a nice slip so that they are super easy to take out. 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.

5. 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.

There are two ways to use this type of comb. Once the conditioner has been applied to the hair, you can use the fine teeth to comb out the braid. Simply rake the comb starting at the ends of the hair and they should easily unravel. If that is not working you can 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 braid stitch by stitch. As long as you take your time and follow the braid's pattern, they should come out quickly and painlessly - no knots.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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, and conditioned during 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.

9. 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/or 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.

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10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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 put in their hair, 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 ends of the braid aren’t too thin, so that the braids will be big enough to easily take down. This size will differ by head. For example, our oldest daughter has thinner hair, so her sections have to be super big in order to avoid braids that are hard to take out. But our middle daughter has super thick hair. Her sections can be smaller, and still result in a braid thick enough to take out.

13. 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. If you're looking for an easier style, that is also protective but doesn't take as long and is super cute -- we also love bantu knots. I write about them here.

Until next time...

Love The Journey,

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