Braided Wigs For Protective Styling: How To Keep Hair Strong & Healthy

Braided Wigs For Protective Styling

As an African-American woman with infamous locks, I’ve loved experimenting with new hairstyles since I was a teenager. From intricate cornrows to bohemian goddess braids and everything in between, changing my look has been an innovative outlet for self-expression. However, the styles I loved in my youth — especially those that involved high heat, tot-pulling, and harsh chemicals — took some of the fancy to my delicate strands over time. After a rampage with bleach and dye resulted in shocking levels of damage and breakage, I knew it was time to consider more low-maintenance and gentler options for cutting my hair. Instead, they nurture. This odyssey eventually led me to discover braided wigs as a wonderful protective style to maintain the vibrancy and strength of my hair.

In this article, I will share my personal experiences and tips for using braided wigs as an effective protective style while keeping your natural mane healthy and thriving. From choosing the best wig cap and braiding technique to proper care and maintenance, read on for the complete lowdown!

Choosing The Right Wig Cap: Your Safety Foundation

The foundation of any braided wig is the wig cap underneath, so choosing one that fits comfortably while protecting your strands is paramount. When I first set out to wear a braided wig, I thriftily opted for cheap plastic dome caps. However, I quickly found that it offered little breathability and put unnecessary pressure on my edges, resulting in annoying breakage. Instead, choose a mesh wig cap that fits snugly but not tightly. I prefer one with an adjustable drawstring so I can loosen the hat as needed without it slipping off like an ill-fitting sock. Breathable fabric hats are especially great for braids. And don’t forget the wig grip to anchor it in place!

Preparing Your Tresses For Braiding

Before applying braids to a wig, it is very important to start with clean, conditioned, detangled and hydrated natural locks. I always wash, deep condition and air dry my hair the day before braiding to guarantee there are no knots and my strands are muslin. Be gentle when combing your hair, and prime your hair with a nourishing leave-in conditioner or rich moisturizer before braiding. I also recommend trimming your ends to remove any seasonal split ends and minimize breakage. Starting the braiding process with strong, ready tresses makes all the difference!

Choosing Your Ideal Braid Style

One of the best aspects of braided wigs is the variety of braid styles to choose from! You can create a look that’s sleek, edgy, feminine, modern – the possibilities are endless. I would avoid micro braids because they are too cumbersome and make the hair too tight over time. Some of my prized braided wig styles include:

  • Jumbo Twists: For a chunky, bohemian vibe, big twists of two strands are glamorous yet soft on your strands. I enjoy accessorizing them with exotic beads or jewelry!
  • Butterfly Locs: Sleek and airy, butterfly locs feature fluttering curls along the length of each artificial point. This style can be created using individual braiding or crochet techniques. One of my everyday picks!
  • Flat Braids: Super sleek and adaptable, these jumbo braids lay flat on the head for an elegant look, perfect for the boardroom or cocktail hour alike.

No matter what type of braid you choose, aim for large, low braids rather than multiple, small braids to reduce stress on your natural hair.

Braiding Process: Patience Is A Virtue

Braiding your natural hair for a wig can be a lengthy endeavor, often lasting several hours or even days, depending on the complexity of the style. Make sure to set aside enough time when you can devote your full attention to the marathon process. I like to bring snacks, music, and entertainment to help the hours zoom by!

It’s important that your stylist gently but securely applies the braid from root to tip. Traction alopecia is a real risk from excessive stretching, so monitor tension diligently and speak up if an area becomes too tight. Massage your scalp periodically to increase circulation. I take an Advil before breeding as a precaution against potential pain.

For braids attached to a full lace wig, your stylist can cut your natural hair straight back or into a U-shape along your hairline so that the wig can be glued or sewn down seamlessly. This technique creates more tension around the frame than a basic dome cap, so carefully check for any pinches.

Mindful Care For Your Braids

The way you care for your braids while wearing a wig is just as important as the initial braiding technique. Be gentle when applying and removing the wig daily. I use a holding spray or a dollop of gel to smooth my braids under the cap. When showering, carefully wash and condition your ends, massaging your scalp with your fingertips – no nails! – and rinse thoroughly.

Damp tops can be an ideal environment for fungus so make sure they are completely dry. I then gently moisturize my ends, focusing extra care on the delicate ends. Resist the urge to pick at your braids or over-handle them. And never try to adjust or redo them yourself! Leave it to the professionals. I give my natural hair and scalp a rest from hard work by removing the braids after a maximum of 6-8 weeks. Listen to your hair’s needs, and don’t go beyond the comfort zone. Give your edges adequate time to heal before repeating the process.

Choosing A Flattering Braided Wig

A great braided wig that fits properly and mimics a natural looking scalp. Look for wigs constructed with quality synthetic fibers that mimic the movement and texture of authentic hair. I prefer a lighter wig with stretch for all-day comfort. Carefully measure the circumference and width of your head so that the seller can make the proper setting.

Study the reviews and photos closely for the density of the wig – a fuller, more realistic appearance blends in with your underlying braids. But don’t choose something too cumbersome! Aim for adequate lightness to prevent undue stress on your natural hair. I also love the options with baby hair, a pre-plucked hairline, and adjustable straps for security.

Also inspect the inside of the cap. Dome caps with a comb or elastic band firmly anchor your braids. It may take some time to fit the wig to your exact head shape. But once broken in, a custom braided wig feels like a second skin.

Enjoy The Freedom!

While braid wig require careful maintenance and upkeep, they have been a real game changer for maintaining the integrity of my natural hair. After years of watching my hair gradually thin and suffer, my strands are finally growing back thanks to this protective regimen.

I can wake up, clip on my wig, and feel beautifully coiffed in minutes. Convenience means I actually handle my hair less, giving it the time it needs to thrive and gain strength. With braided wigs, I never have to worry about braiding my hair completely or going through overly tight braiding. I can change the length and style of my wig to suit any occasion!

As long as you choose a reputable stylist, a high-quality wig, and take proper care of your braids, braided wigs offer low-maintenance flexibility. You can maintain the vibrancy of your natural hair while enjoying the beauty and ease of protective styling. No more damage from excessive braiding, hot tools or excessive use of chemicals. Only strong, growing, radiant strands!

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