I love wearing my natural hair, but I’ve been LIVING for box braids. Waking up knowing that my hair routine has been cut down to a few minutes is THE best feeling. Now that I’ve gotten my box braid care routine down to a science, I can keep them looking their best longer, while making sure I have a solid non-toxic braid cair routine.
But there is one BIG catch to wearing braids. Most of the products are formulated for braids, and even the braid hair itself can be a source of nasty toxins. In fact, most of the products that are marketed towards black women are full of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
The thought of something that brings so much beauty and ease to my life having the potential to be harmful is almost devastating. So, I had to do some research to figure out how to create a non-toxic braid care routine.
In my routine, I’ve included some of my favorite non-toxic hair care products. They’ve helped me turn this part of my haircare routine into a real self-care ritual.
So grab turn on your favorite music, drop some calming oils in your bathroom diffuser and let’s turn our haircare routine into our new favorite self-care ritual.
These braid care tips will help you make sure your protective style is truly protective. So first thing’s first. Let’s start with the hair you choose for your initial installation.
Choosing Safer Hair for Braids
When it comes to box braids, you can choose synthetic or human hair. Human hair usually does not contain as many chemicals. However, its sourcing may not be ethical and the cost is more expensive.
Personally, I choose synthetic hair for its ease of use and affordability. But this hair is usually treated with chemicals including pesticides. But don’t fret. There are at least two solutions to minimize exposure to these chemicals.
My first solution is to buy from a brand that already produces synthetic hair with no dangerous chemicals. My go-to is Latched and Hooked. This black-owned braid hair brand has SO many colors to choose from. Plus, shipping times have been reasonably quick in my experience.
Sometimes I make a last-minute braid appointment, so I might not have time to order the hair. In this case, I opt for creating a soaking solution for whatever brand I buy from the hair store.
To create the soaking solution, I simply fill my sink or bathtub with enough water to cover the hair and pour in a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar.
You can let the hair soak for at least 30 minutes. Then rinse with clear water. Hang to air dry or blow dry the hair.
Now that you know which hair to start out with. Let’s get down to the braid care routine.
Let’s start with a pretreatment.
Pretreatment for Braids and Scalp
Now, normally adding an extra step to any routine, let alone my hair routine wouldn’t be on my agenda. But I got this sample of Fable & Mane Holiroots™ Pre-wash Hair Oil Treatment from Sephora from their Rewards. And it was indeed a reward.
Take a few drops and add them throughout your hair at least five minutes before you wash. You can even use the oil as an overnight treatment.
Non-toxic shampoo for braids
Lately, I’ve had issues with patchy, itchy scalp. So, shampooing is my favorite part. If you’re plagued by itchy scalp, it’s important to do a really thorough wash. This is not the time to go for a cowash.
Melanin Black Soap Reviving Shampoo really gets the job done when it comes to a clean scalp. I usually pour it directly into my hands and lather a bit to get it throughout my scalp.
The nozzle allows you to squeeze shampoo directly onto your scalp. But sometimes I like to use a different bottle and add water to thin the shampoo a bit. Doing this might be helpful if you feel like you get product build-up or have trouble rinsing thoroughly.
Some people like to add watered-down conditioner to condition the hair close to the scalp. Personally, I skip this step because I’d rather leave the conditioning to the serum and daily oil I use. Instead, I do an apple cider vinegar rinse.
How to do an apple cider vinegar rinse for braids
Doing an apple cider vinegar rinse after you shampoo and condition can be beneficial to your scalp. Apple cider vinegar can help neutralize hard water and remove build-up from the scalp.
Many women, including myself, have experienced less scalp itchiness from using a rinse. This might be because apple cider vinegar likely reduces the occurrence of fungus on your scalp.
There are a few apple cider vinegar rinse products on the market. But it’s really easy and cheaper to create your own.
Simply add one part apple cider vinegar and three parts water to the applicator bottle and shake gently to mix.
After shampooing and conditioning, apply it directly to your scalp. I like to let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
Yes, you’ll likely still have a bit of a lingering vinegar smell. But it usually dissipates pretty quickly.
Products for Braids
After towel drying my braids, I use some mouse, gel, or wrap lotion to tame flyaways and reduce frizz. You can also use a bit of gel for smoothing.
These two are my favorites:
Some women use the opportunity to redip their braids into hot water. I usually don’t do this because I haven’t noticed a huge difference when I do it.
After I add a holding product and redipping, this is usually the time I blow dry my braids. I like to use a medium to high heat in a downward motion to avoid additional frizz.
You can also let them air dry. But keep in mind that if you’re dealing with itchy scalp, letting your scalp stay wet too long may increase your chances for fungus on your scalp.
Scalp Care for Braids
After my braids are dry, I use a serum to help with flakiness and promote hair growth. This one from Beauty Bio keeps my scalp from feeling dry and tight without any product build up. It’s super lightweight and the packaging makes it easy to apply directly to your scalp.
On the days that my scalp needs a little more moisturizing, I use the Melanin Multi-Use Oil. Even though this one is super light, a little goes a long way.
For a the finishing touch, I use a little gel or mouse on my edges for a more polish look.
Hopefully this post will help you take your braidcare routine and turn it into something nourishing, luxurious and most importantly safer.
Are you as obsessed with box braids as I am? Let me know in the comments if you have any more non-toxic braid care routine tips!