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Thread: What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

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    Member FrozenFlame22's Avatar
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    Red face What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

    I'm not very good at braiding, so I've been reading here and other places for some tips on braiding and many people said to braid damp hair. The week before last, I braided my hair into twin braids down my back right out of the shower. It looked fantastic and was so much easier to keep even while braiding. That night I took out the elastics at the ends but I left the braids in and slept in them. The next morning I finger combed it out and had beautiful braid waves. I was in heaven!

    Now, not so much. I have had massive, dry, nasty, rats nest tangles at the ends of my hair since I brushed out the braid waves. I had been doing only search and destroy trims with self trims once every 6 months(ish). My last trim was only last month and I know I had gotten my splits down to near nothing with the S&D. Since the braid experiment, I've had tons of splits in the entire length of my hair. This is so disheartening! I feel like I've got my old pre-LHC hair back.

    I'm really wondering what it is that I've done, if braiding damp really did cause this, and how I can prevent it in the future. I've been on a water only routine for the past 6 months and that particular shower before the braid experiment I did run it hotter than usual and I didn't have time to run cold water over my hair to close the cuticle. I'm wondering if I stripped the oil off my hair (I generally have to work the sebum down from my scalp after a shower) and then the braiding while wet tore it to pieces. I generally don't touch my hair at all until it is almost completely dry, so I'm a bit freaked out about this change. I have no idea, really.

    I don't mean to imply that my hair was perfect before this, but it was much healthier than it has ever been. Until a year ago, I flat ironed it weekly and was very harsh with it. I know it did have damage that I was growing out. I only have one year of "good" hair, so I can't really tell if the better part was also affected. I've been trying to use coconut oil on the ends, but it doesn't seem to help much. I've been very sparing with the oil anyway, since I'm using the WO routine and that makes getting rid of excess oil more tricky.

    Have I ruined my hair? Help?

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    Need For Speed Sundial's Avatar
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    Default Re: What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

    Don't worry, you are not alone in having issues with damp braiding. I cannot manipulate my hair much (bunning/braiding) when it is wet.

    If I wish to wear my hair up, then I have to make sure that it is *completely* (I cannot stress that enough) before I put it up. Otherwise I end up with kinked, damaged-looking ends.

    However, you also mentioned that you have past damage and it could also be that your ends are getting more worn out as they grow longer. Since you pointed out that there may be more than 1 factor involved, you may want to observe if you encounter the same problem when you next damp braid your hair.

  3. #3

    Default Re: What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

    I wouldn't braid my hair when it is very wet. Wait until it is slightly damp and braid it not too tight. About the ends being ragged, mine do it too. Maybe you could put a rag curler on the ends with some oil to smooth it down or even just oil them good. That helps a lot.

    Goal is a solid Classic with no thin ends.

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    Member Lianna's Avatar
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    Default Re: What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

    Braids and coconut oil are two things my hair doesn't like, it always end up looking dry, never really "damaged" though. Are you sure it isn't just kinky ends from all the bending? Have you washed it again after this? I would wet my hair all over again and do a moisturizing treatment.

    Also I don't think brushing out braid waves/curls always turns out nice, people prefer finger combing it only. Most wavies/curlies prefer to detangle with damp/wet hair, it's less damage for us.
    Last edited by Lianna; June 26th, 2011 at 11:49 PM.
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    Member FrozenFlame22's Avatar
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    Default Re: What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

    I'm really afraid to try braiding my hair again now, damp or dry. I wish I knew what it was that I've done.

    The new damage goes up at least 12 inches, and it is definitely more than just kinked ends. Not sure how to explain this well, but I've noticed a ton of spots way up the hair that is split in the middle of the shaft that looks like the eye of a needle. It is noticeably thinner than it was just a month ago at the ends. I didn't brush it out until the third day after I braided it and then only very gently. That's when I noticed the damage for the first time as the lower half of my hair had turned into velcro. I've had three showers and washed it water only since then.

    My husband had a theory. My scalp seems to have finally finished adjusting to water only and is producing a lot less oil. My hair was feeling very heavy from the excess oil until recently and now feels a little dry. He thinks that my hair has finished transitioning and is no longer masking the damage from earlier. He also thinks that the hot shower just before my braid experiment stripped a lot of the sebum off. Since I didn't preen and work the sebum down before braiding, I wore my hair in a stressing style for two days essentially unprotected, damaging the weakened hair.

    What do you think?

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    little hair obsessed too littlenvy's Avatar
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    Default Re: What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

    I think he might be onto something here.
    I love mixing up my oils!

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    Member heidihug's Avatar
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    Default Re: What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

    I entirely agree with your DH. Also, any damage that was there already had been masked. If you straightened your hair up until a year ago, you will have heat damage on all but the top 6 inches of hair. It might not be apparent all the time, but it is there.

    Whenever I braid - which I always do dry as I cannot detangle my length when it is wet - I notice all of the split ends and white dots much more. I never wear my hair down, other than in a single braid very occasionally. So I think that leaving it down allows the oils I apply to the ends after washing to rub off on my clothes and on furniture. I very often do braided buns, and I never notice the same types of dryness of my ends when I take down a bunned braid vs. a left-down braid.

    I suggest that you oil your ends very liberally after doing WO washes, and see how they look and feel. The damage will be there until you cut it off, but breakage can be slowed down by carefully handling and oiling.

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    Default Re: What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

    Quote Originally Posted by FrozenFlame22 View Post
    The new damage goes up at least 12 inches, and it is definitely more than just kinked ends. Not sure how to explain this well, but I've noticed a ton of spots way up the hair that is split in the middle of the shaft that looks like the eye of a needle.
    This sounds a lot like mechanical damage to me. Do you wear your hair in a pony tail very often?
    I noticed on mine where I would tie off a braid, it has splits up the shaft where the band would be. I have since gone to more buns.
    Perhaps right now, the condition of the hair length can't handle wet/damp manipulation. Don't despair! The rough bits will grow out and things will get better!! Hang in there!!
    ETA: Have you tried other oils besides coconut? Maybe olive or some other would work better. Also I read that you didn't do a cold rinse to close the cuticle. Maybe the opened cuticle compounded the problem by rubbing against and grabbing on to each other?
    Last edited by CareBear; June 27th, 2011 at 03:33 PM.

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    Member FrozenFlame22's Avatar
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    Default Re: What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

    Thank you all for the responses! I'm feeling a bit better about this and my husband is glad that someone thinks he's on the right track.

    To answer CareBear's question: I rarely wear pony tails at all anymore, but two years ago that's all I wore. That would be about right for where the damage is now. Now I've been using a variety of no twist buns held with a extremely smooth wood hairfork. Really the way I've been caring for my hair in the past year is like the difference between night and day when compared to a couple of years ago. I really had no idea that I was doing that much damage.

    I'll try olive oil for the next few days and see how that goes. Thanks for the suggestions!

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    Default Re: What have I done to my hair?! Wet braid damage

    I don't know if you detangled your wet hair with a wide tooth comb BEFORE you damp braided, but if you do not, the damp braiding (when it dries) will only exacerbate the tangles if you have not detangled all your hair.

    As for the damage, unless you can trim it away, then to protect your hair, a good cut is in order. You must get rid of the damage if you want to protect the length of that strand. Babying damaged hair is only a stop gap measure. Once the hair is compromised by a split, the split has a propensity to split more and more up the shaft. Thus, a trim is in order, at least. A cut would be better. Also, I've found that hairs of different lengths tend to get a LOT more snarly and tangled, than hair of one length. Your mileage may very, of course!

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