My hair is currently in mini twists. It’s low maintenance and when I swish my head side to side, my hair comes with me. It’s a nice feeling that people with straight or loose curls most likely take for granted. I have the movement of box braids without the weight and hassle but then again I don’t have the length! Not yet!
However, I’m considering putting my hair back in braids just for a bit of a change. But when you put them in, you need to take them out. And that can be a pain, an absolute pain. But over the years, I’ve been able to make this process a little easier. Firstly, less braids. For real, think about how many braids you put in BECAUSE 👏🏾 YOU 👏🏾 WILL 👏🏾 NEED 👏🏾 TO👏🏾 TAKE 👏🏾 THEM 👏🏾 OUT!
Also before we get into this, this pictorial is specifically for box braids (done mediocrely(??) by me) but can be adjusted for any protective style.
So Where Do We Start?
I’d had these braids in for about 4-5 weeks. Looking at this picture, it must have been a pretty rough few weeks 👀. You can see the new growth at the roots and my hair trying to escape a little further down the braid. Basically, it was time to take them out. Although, as long as they were moisturised and cleansed and cleverly
hidden under styled with a headwrap, I could’ve probably gotten another 2 weeks out of them.
Now, some people reuse the braids. It’s good to recycle but honestly, I don’t have the patience. It’s not just the unbraiding from root to tip. I think the detangling would cause the hair to frizz and then the cleansing. And it’s a lot and I don’t want to do it and you can’t make me. But kids please do think about recycling 🤷🏾♀️
I look scared here because this is a crucial part of the process. In order to remove the braids quickly, you need to have as little braid to undo but you need to take heed to not cut your natural hair. Now I’ll be honest, occasionally when I cut, I notice a few little black curly bits no longer attached to my head. I look at it like an impromptu trim rather than crying about it. But I do die a teensy weensy bit inside when I realise I’ve miscalculated the chop.
And then you’re free!!! The relief. The weightlessness.
There are a few instruments you need to make this process go a little swifter. You can use any comb you want but the rat tail is a favourite of mine for this. I hate the name but they are very handy. Obviously, the bigger the braid, the bigger the comb but for the size I had in, this is perfect.
But before you get in there with The Rat, make sure you have some moisture in your hair. I remember for years doing this with dry hair and the amount of breakage it must have caused is kind of depressing. You put your hair into braids for convenience but also because it’s a protective style and at the final hurdle you just mash up your hair with nonsense. Make it make sense.
You need moisture. I’ve seen too many videos on YouTube recently of girls taking out 3 month old braids and it’s pretty grim viewing. Of course, dirt is going to be trapped in your hair but you do not need to be covered in it like this. It doesn’t have to be like this kids! So not only does the moisture soften your hair and also reduce the breakage, it’ll stop you getting covered in dry hair mank.
However, my hair is pretty clean as you can see below.
I like to section the hair so I can deal with a little bit at a time. There are clips everywhere and sometimes they get lost but they do help make the job go quicker. By the way, do you know how hard it is to take a selfie of the back of your own head? No, neither did I before this.
So I use the water to wet the hair to remove the synthetic hair. Once the braid is out, I spritz a few unbraided sections at a time with the above Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and water mix. This goes on the hair to help with detangling and also cleansing. I personally like to use a Denman brush here. I’ve read about some people that find a Denman too harsh and breakage inducing, but on my damp hair, with ACV or your favourite slippy conditioner, the brush should just glide through.
Remember to start brushing at the ends of your hair and work gently up to the roots. I rarely struggle with detangling at this point. This is because I make sure to thoroughly detangle the hair before it goes into the braid. The new growth hasn’t really had a chance to tangle but that bit where the new growth meets the braid is where the most dirt gets trapped and where the worst knotting will occur. It’s almost like the line of demarcation on transitioning hair.
And we’re getting there…or somewhere at least. Just repeat section after section until your fro is free. It’s hard to tell in this picture but the loose hair is in loose twists so the sections don’t tangle together.
As I said earlier, my hair looks surprisingly clean. I made sure to wash my hair while in the protective style but also the ACV mixture used in the take down helps a lot. It really makes your hair feel soft and cleansed, even if it stinks.
This product has long gone but I really liked it. The Afro Hair Solutions Scalp Reviver Mask was even good enough to get onto my Holy Grail as a pre-wash treatment. It helps your hair feel soft and loved and is great to massage on your scalp which you are now getting reacquainted with since your braids are coming out. And probably in the bin at this point. Unless you are a better human being than me and are recycling them.
But don’t get excited by my recommendation of this product because I think it’s been discontinued. However, if you find it, please let me know! If you are unable to get hold of a pre-wash/ pre-poo treatment, you can use oils, conditioners, there are lots of alternatives that you will have around your home. Or don’t do a pre-poo, it’s your choice but I really think you should.
On this particular day, I didn’t shampoo because I used ACV in the take down and then the EDEN Bodyworks All Natural Cleansing CoWash. I can assure you my hair was squeaky clean.
Now as much as I tried to care for my hair while in braids, you can’t get to every strand no matter how hard you try. It’s sort of the reason for putting your hair in a protective style in the first place. But now it’s all loose, it deserves to be loved and cared for. Every wash day, for me, needs some sort of deep conditioner or hair mask or hot oil treatment. This time using the accompaniment to the above CoWash was the EDEN Bodyworks Natural Hair Masque Treatment. Very thick and lovely.
At the time I was a huge proponent of the LOC (Leave In, Oil, Cream) Method which I’ve recently levelled up by changing to either LOCO or LCO. As most of us know, oils are usually sealants. So it makes more sense to use it last to seal in the moisture from the leave in and cream.
I forgot to say how long it took to take the braids out, I’d say it was probably in the 2-3 hour range. Not too bad, compared to the 8 hours plus it can take to get the damn things in!
And there you have it! Finally, the braids are out, the hair is cleansed, your tresses are loved and ready for the next style. Even though it was only tucked away in braids for just over a month, I did miss my hair. But not long after taking out my braids, I missed them too! Natural girls can’t win!
Anyway, I hope this helps you have a healthier and simpler braid takedown. Or you can NOT put them in in the first place and save yourself a lot of hassle!