When wearing braid extensions the usual practice is to wash your hair less frequently than you would when wearing your own hair. However, having a clean scalp is paramount to preventing breakage. It is important to keep your scalp clean to ensure that your hair maintains the best possible health during your protective styling journey. Since the main reason you may be wearing a protective style is to retain maximum hair growth during a given period of time it would be futile if your hair were to break-off as fast as it is grows. Here are a few tips that I incorporate during my protective styling journey to help keep my scalp clean.

1. Do not over grease/oil your scalp

As naturals, we are often told to moisturise our scalp/roots when wearing braids or other protective styles. Whilst it is important to ensure that your hair does not lose moisture and break-off during your protective styling period it is equally important to avoid product build up.

For example, when I am not wearing a protective style, I would normally apply Jamaican black castor oil (“JBCO”) to my scalp a few times per week (usually, when I remember to do so) because I normally wash my hair weekly. When wearing a protective style I tend to apply JBCO to my scalp once per week because I typically wash my hair less often. So, I try not to apply too much of anything to my scalp.

2. Keep sweat at minimum

A sweaty head will most likely be a smelly head. One way to combat this is by blow-dry your hair on cool/low temperature after completing whatever physical activity made you work up a sweat. Even if you are not drenched in sweat, passing the blow-dryer over the roots of your hair for a few minutes will work wonders. It will soak up the perspiration and help to prevent your hair from being smelly and itchy. It also helps to cool down your hair after a workout.

3. Cleanse your scalp

In between washes use a wet washcloth with shampoo or conditioner to gently cleanse your scalp. An alternative is to soak the washcloth with tea tree oil. Doing so will not only help to keep your scalp clean but to also keep itching at bay and your scalp smelling fresh. After cleansing your scalp, pass the blow-dryer over your roots to soak up any dampen areas.

4. Wash your braids

Either wash your braids at home or have it done professionally at a hair salon. Most people do not have a hooded hair dryer at home so drying their braids themselves using a blow-dryer can be challenging, time consuming and tiring. I use a bonnet hooded dryer. It’s a bonnet that attaches to the end of my blow-dryer to give that hooded hair dryer experience. It is inexpensive, around US$12. You can easily find several versions on Amazon. I use it all the time when I deep condition my hair.

If you do wash your hair yourself, make sure that your hair dries properly. I have read horror stories about people claiming to have developed moldy hair, so watch out. You might be better off just going to the hair dresser for a quick wash.

How do you keep your scalp clean when wearing braids?

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