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How to Prevent Build-Up in Braids for Healthy Growth

Braids are a perfect way to protect your actual hair from outside harsh temperatures and also against manipulation which causes your hair to break. They are a perfect style if you want to be able to wake up and go without having to struggle styling in the morning. However, the fear of build-up is among the top reasons many beauties will try to avoid braids. 

The build-up is inevitable for braids unless you wash your hair regularly. But, as much as you can’t prevent it, you can minimize it by keeping your scalp clean and moisturized. Read on to find out the best ways to prevent build-up in braids.

What is Build-Up?

Build-up is all the gunk that forms where the braids start or connect to your hair. It is not necessarily dirt, but it can also be an accumulation of products you may have applied like oil or lint from pillowcases since putting on your braids.  

Notably, build-up doesn’t only happen when you have braids, but you can also have build-up after taking out your weave, removing your cornrows or twists. Generally, the build-up can accumulate with any protective style that has been left in for a long period and has not been taken care of properly. 

Why Do I Get Build-Up in My Braids?

You can get build-up if you leave your braids on for too long without properly taking care of your hair. The longer your braids stay in, the more likely product build-up will stick and get attached to your hair. 

Removing the buildup without breaking your hair is tricky and a time-consuming process. Excessive combing of the build-up when trying to remove it can damage your hair, and it could tear your hair out. Also, the combination of lint, dirt and oil can give your hair a weird smell. 

Substances that can build up fall into two categories: natural substances and products. Several hair products that build up on the hair and scalp include conditioners, ointments, styling creams, gels, oils and foams. On the other hand, the natural substances could include dead skin cells, sebum or sweat.

How to Prevent Build-Up in Braids?

Leaving the product in your hair before braiding your hair will be the early start of build-up. To prevent build-up, you will need to ensure that your hair is clean and free from any product. Any lint, dirt or debris that contacts your hair will stick to it, causing build-up faster. 

a). Clarifying Shampoo

While you have your braids in, you need to ensure you clean your scalp regularly. Then, get a clarifying shampoo to remove all the gunk from your hair. However, keep in mind that a clarifying shampoo could be harsh on your hair sometimes because it’s designed to remove dirt. 

Therefore, ensure you condition your hair after using such shampoo. In addition, avoid using too much dry shampoo or foaming dry shampoo since it can negatively affect your hair.

b). Apple Cider Vinegar

Nevertheless, if you don’t want to wash your braids regularly, you can use apple cider vinegar to avoid product buildup. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a natural way to ensure your hair remains clean, and if you are worried about the smell, it will disappear once the vinegar dries. 

Apple cider vinegar has antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and when applied to your hair, it will clean the hair alleviating any itchy scalp and getting rid of dandruff. It does this because of its acidic nature and allows the vinegar to be a clarifying shampoo. 

However, if you use apple cider vinegar on your hair, ensure you dilute it well. Using it undiluted and directly on your hair could burn your scalp or strip your hair of any moisture.

c). Use Lightweight Oils

Using light oils is a key factor in preventing build-up in your braids, so you should avoid heavy moisturizing and styling products. Not only will products like beeswax and gels create a product build-up but also oils such as coconut and shea. These oils can attract debris/ lint to your hair and thus create build-up preventing healthy hair growth.

d). Protect your Hair Appropriately

When you use appropriate hair protection, it can help to prevent unnecessary build-up. For example, try wearing your braids up when wearing your favorite fluffy sweater. Alternatively, you can keep your hair wrapped to prevent the lint that may cause build-up.

In addition, protecting your hair doesn’t only include hair wraps, but also you can wear swimming caps when in water to prevent chlorine which might be causing build-up. Finally, when exercising, try to use a headband to help absorb sweat that would eventually turn into build-up.

Lastly, to prevent build-up, try to re-do your braids around the edges, as the build-up usually is. You can also re-do your braids in other areas if you notice your hair is getting matted. 

How to Get Rid of Build-Up After Removing Braids?

If you already have build-up on your braids, you should find a safe removal method. You can use several steps to remove product build-up after removing your braids. They include:

  • Remove your braids and take them out gently, but avoid tanking your hair to prevent hair loss.
  • Wet the buildup area to allow you to work with your hair easier. You can do this step after removing each braid or all the braids.
  • Start combing your hair at the build-up and start from the side further from the scalp. This is important because if you try combing your hair from the scalp side, you might end up causing a tangle down in your hair as you try to comb it out.
  • Keep combing out the build-up towards the scalp, and as you keep moving lower, the build-up will become less dense, which you can separate with your hands.
  • After removing all your braids and build-up, do treatment because your hair will need it after having braids for so long. You can do a deep treatment after the wash and a deep condition after removing it. Alternatively, you can do a treatment for 45 minutes, then wash and deep condition.
  • Allow your hair to breathe for a while, and you shouldn’t remove the braids and then immediately try another style. This could be too much manipulation, eventually leading to your hair falling out.

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