Braids are a staple style for many girls worldwide because they are beautiful, and once plaited, you can style them in so many ways. However, one of the main downsides of braids is that they can have too much tension, which can cause pain. Most of us have been in hair situations where we wanted to yank our newly-made hair off our scalp.
Although it can be easy to assume that the tighter your braids, the longer they will last, this myth is false. Generally, beauty shouldn’t hurt, and if your head hurts because your hair is braided too tightly, all is not lost.
Can Tight Braids Cause Damage To Your Hair?
Yes, tight braids can cause irreversible harm to your hair and the myths like the tighter, the better aim to hurt your scalp. The strain that causes your scalp to get sore might take a toll on your strands and scalp and lead to shedding and hair breakage. This will ultimately cause loss or damage to your edges, also known as traction alopecia.
Although braided styles offer protection for various hair types, frequent installation can cause damage over time, especially with tight braids. In addition, continuously having tight braids could lead to breakage of your natural hair, excessive shedding and chronic pain.
Some common symptoms of damaged braid installation you can look out for include small white bumps and painful scalp or sores. If you notice some of these symptoms, incorporate some of our tips above into your hair care routine to relieve tension.
Ideally, you will want to loosen your braids without destroying them because they cost you money and time. However, there are some at-home tricks you can take to relieve tension and pain from tight braids. Dive in to find out different methods on how to loosen tight braids.
Different Methods on How to Loosen Tight Braids
1. Use A Hot Towel/ Warm Water
Some hairstyles run a towel soaked in hot water through your head when they are done braiding. You can also do this at home on your own. Take a medium-sized towel, soak it in hot water, remove the towel using tongs then wrong the water out of the towel.
While the towel is still hot, place the towel on your braids and apply pressure where it is hurting the most. The heated towel will relax your muscles and, soothe your scalp, loosen up tight braids.
Alternatively, a warm shower is good for the body and can be a perfect solution to tight braids. If your braids are too tight, you should try running your hair under warm or cool water in the shower. While doing this, gently rub your scalp and loosen the braids.
Avoid worrying about how much money you spent or how much time it took to style your braids; instead, you should be concerned with loosening the tight style to save your hairline.
2. Apply Heat
Sometimes your braid needs some steam, which shouldn’t be confused with a hooded hairdryer. A hair steamer should help open your pores, making it easy for the braids to loosen up and help your scalp retain some moisture.
A hair steamer is a good non-invasive solution for making your braids more comfortable. If you don’t own one, your local salon will allow you to sit under theirs for a while at a cost. However, having one in your home saves you the extra trip.
Sit under your steamer in 10-minute intervals and ensure you direct the steam towards the problematic areas. Repeat the process until all the pain and tension subsides.
3. Use a Leave-In Conditioner
Your scalp may feel drier than normal when you have braided hair. Applying a leave-in conditioner will soothe the area and loosen your braids while hydrating your scalp. However, avoid using too much because it may cause unwanted buildup.
Apply some leave-in conditioner on the base of your braids and massage the product to ensure it applies evenly. Keep your scalp moisturized to avoid getting scalp scores from the tight braids.
4. Use A Tension Spray
Another way of loosening tight braids is using a braid or tension spray. This is essential to keep your braided hair neat and moisturized. Many sprays have nozzles shaped in ways to get products under your tight braids. But, again, use a light layer to prevent product buildup.
Look out for aloe vera, lavender oil and tea tree oil for braids. Lavender oil helps prevent thinning and adds a relaxing scent to your products, while aloe vera is packed with Vitamins A, C, and E to relieve irritated areas. The tea tree oil can assist in breaking down any build-up that was left behind by your products.
Tension sprays help soothe your scalp while still having braids while ensuring your strands are nourished and moisturized. Spritz a light tension spray layer over your scalp in the morning and keep repeating during the day until you feel some relief. Spray in little amounts to avoid creating an excess buildup.
5. Wear your Hair Down
One major mistake most people make is wanting to style your hair in unique styles immediately after the braiding process. Meanwhile, one of the simplest first steps to relieve pain from tight braids is wearing your hair down.
Wearing freshly braided hair into an updo or a bun will greatly add to the tension on your scalp and the soreness level by pulling your roots. To minimize pain, leave your freshly done braids down until the roots loosen, and then you can rock any style you want.
You can use a large clip to hold some braid pieces back or style your braids in a low ponytail if you still want some style.
6. Use a Comb to Loosen the Braids
If you don’t have time and want to avoid another trip to the salon, you could use the tools you already have in your home. Gently run the longer end of the rat tail comb and carefully wiggle it to loosen the braids from your scalp.
Avoid ruining your braids by being gentle. However, if you are worried that your braids may become undone, you should try a less invasive method like the one we have listed.
7. Give your Scalp a Massage
A scalp massage will increase the blood flow, and it’s essential for better hair growth and a healthy scalp. Use hair oil or a tonic to make your massage smoother, which will offer your scalp and hair extra hydration. Opt for a hair oil like the Tea tree oil, lavender oil, black castor oil, and jojoba oil, which will soothe while combating dryness and moisturizing your scalp.
Get yourself comfortable, then start running your fingers over your scalp in a front and back motion. Next, press your fingertips gently into your scalp and move your hands in a circular motion while adjusting their placement.
8. Take Painkillers
If the pain is really bad, you should take an over-the-counter painkiller like aspirin and ibuprofen. However, consult a trusted healthcare provider or a doctor before taking any medication and follow the instructions on how many you should take. However, you shouldn’t be in so much pain that you need to take painkillers daily.
In addition, your healthcare provider may be able to recommend a medicated shampoo to treat your symptoms. If you have been noticing bumps or sores along your scalp, look for the trusted shampoo brands containing ketoconazole or salicylic acid.
9. Take the Braids Down
Lastly, if your braids are still too painful, are not showing any signs of improvement, and you start noticing bumps on your scalp and hairline, it’s time to remove your braids.
This is not the tip you want to read after sitting for several hours getting braided. It might feel frustrating because you had spent time and money on the braids, but it’s the only way to prevent further hair damage and loss.
After you remove the braids, allow your hair to breathe for a week or two and during that time, give your scalp extra care. For example, you could try using a protein treatment, a calming oil or a scalp care product with anti-inflammatory properties.
How Long Will it Take To Loosen Tight Braids?
You will experience relief after one or two days, but the braids should fully loosen in about three days. Unless you work some other magic, don’t expect to experience tension relief overnight because it takes some time fully.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t suffer for any style because it is not normal to experience such discomfort. However, if you are in a lot of pain and have tried all the tips above, you should take your braids down as soon as possible to reduce further damage.
Lastly, your braider should be able to accommodate you, and you should speak up if you feel any pain or discomfort during your braiding appointment. It is easier for your braider to adjust their technique during an appointment than to go back and try to fix the already installed braids. Also, if you like getting braids installed frequently, you should consider knotless braids.
Image Credit: Pulse