Now I lay me down to sleep. . .
It is traditional in many cultures to braid the hair at night, and with good reason. If your hair is either long or curly hair, or both, a secure braid just before bed can prevent many a tangle nightmare in the morning.
Braiding your hair before you sleep can guard against snarls by keeping the hair in a fixed position, preventing strands from falling across and loop-the-looping their way around each other while you toss and turn in dreamland.
Braids also help to keep the hair moist, especially if you add your moisturizer overnight, rather than in the AM.
By keeping the hair huddled together, each strand helps hold back the moisture of its fellow strands from escaping into the air or the pillow. On the driest hair, however, braiding might not be enough to prevent moisture loss. More compact, cylindrical hairstyles like coils, buns or bantu knots are a better fit for severely dehydrated tresses as less hair is exposed in these styles.
Braiding out. . .
Plaiting your hair nightly also takes advantage of your sleep time to allow your hair to set into a range of styles. Nowadays called a braidout, braiding has long been used as a method to imprint hair with curls or waves, without the need for heat or chemicals.
For a soft, touchable braidout, first take your hair in sections that correspond to the size of the wave pattern you would like to create in your hair. For big, deep waves use fewer braids, anywhere from 2 to about 8. Medium-sized waves and curls will take anywhere from 9-20. For micro crimps, you can put up to 50 braids in your hair. Next, apply a leave in (pick one with a slightly sticky texture, as this will help the individual hairs to adhere better to one another) and work it gently into the hair.
Now braid. Don't pull the root, but start as close to it as possible, to make sure the pattern is uniform from root to tip. And – still taking care not to yank the hair at the root – be sure you braid the hair itself tightly together; this is what will ensure you impress the new pattern onto your hair overnight.
For simple security. . .
To simply secure your hair overnight, braid much more loosely. You can wear a single, or a few large braids. Smaller braids, even when done loosely, have a tendency to impose a different wave pattern on the hair and for that reason are best reserved for braidouts.
If you're looking to control shrinkage, plaiting is a useful, low-tension way stretch the hair. Simply take your hair in sections and braid on dry hair, tie with a satin scarf (this effect requires a bit more control than a bonnet can offer) and unfurl the results in the morning.
On the other hand, if you've already set your hair into a style, be it defined curls, a twistout or rollerset, then braiding can bring about its own wave pattern, upsetting the look you have already created.
Besides, sets, already held in a fixed position, are usually not as vulnerable to tangling as truly loose hair. In most cases, a satin bonnet or scarf will be sufficient to prevent snarls, as well as keeping your style in place and your strands hydrated.
Another issue: Sometimes, the stretching can also cause flyaway hairs towards the root on these styles, so proceed with caution. And braiding is definitely not for use if you want to maintain a straight hairstyle.
The braid goes on. . .
The biggest benefit of making a nightly ritual of gently braiding your hair? Most of all, it helps maintain the rhythm of how you nurture your tresses, creating a great store of health, length and manageability you can tap into everyday.
DHA Hair Care Experts
Dominican Hair Alliance