View Full Version : Braids doing more harm than good?

August 1st, 2014, 10:47 PM
Anyone feel like braiding their hair is more damaging than just leaving it be?

I have very fine and straight hair. The little lightweight strands snarl and tangle so easily. Braiding is quite a challenge. I always hear snapping, feel painful pulling on my scalp, despite being very gentle and going VERY slowly. The amount of time it takes for me to do a french braid is really ridiculous.

Then there's the braidwaves once I take a braid out. All those kinks and texture make it even easier for my hair to snarl up. The puffiness following a braid is very painful for me to comb.

I spent the past week trying to braid my hair every morning, and ended up giving up half the time. Yesterday when I showered I noticed an alarming amount of hair that shedded when I washed. I rarely shed. I have literally never clogged up a drain. But yesterday I shed more hair from washing than I ever have before.

I'm convinced it's because braiding it is hurting it. Instead of braiding it to sleep last night, I just left it loose. I brushed it this morning very easily, put it into a ponytail using a soft pony holder like these -


and now before bed I have brushed my hair again and had a very easy time of it and minimal shedding, no nasty tangles.

I always had been told that ponytails would be damaging to my hair and that braiding or bunning would be better for growth and health, but this past week of torturing my hair with braids makes me think I'm better off with a ponytail.

Strange? Or is this normal for some?

August 1st, 2014, 10:52 PM
I find that breakage is inevitable with French braids, so I try to avoid doing them often. Normal braids (English/Fishtail/5-strand, side, down the back) don't cause breakage for me, though.

August 1st, 2014, 10:56 PM
Larki - Yes! With english braids I definitely don't have as bad a time with the yucky snarls. Unfortunately, the braid waves that follow still are a bit nasty to try to comb or brush through.

The main reason I do try for french braids is to contain my layers. The shortest of my layers are at shoulder length and don't quite stay put in an english braid. A few more months growth will take care of that, but until then I may need to stay away from braids entirely!

August 1st, 2014, 11:10 PM
Welcome, Phoe! It looks like you and I are hairtwins! :flowers:

There's a few things that can cause serious tangles wih French/Dutch braids in our hairtype. I find that it's necessary to have both very good technique and also a care routine that my hair really likes :) Could you tell us about your haircare routine? We might be able to help you troubleshoot the cause of your tangles.

Also, whenever you are braiding it's important to seperate each strand every time you make a new cross in the braid. This includes the sections you're adding in when you're French braiding. Run your hands down the strands and make sure the ends aren't tangling together. (And hopefully Madora will come along, she explains it WAY better than me :lol:)

Another option you might try is a simple cinnamon bun with spin pins. Spin pins are quite gentle, and then you protect the hair with no braiding at all!

August 1st, 2014, 11:45 PM
Hmm... interesting. I guess it depends on hair... or maybe on just being used to doing things a certain way.

I English-braided my hair most of my life (always sleeping with a braid), and I'm convinced it helped me keep hair tangle free and grow it out without much manipulation.
When I first started doing updos, they caused me lots of tangling, initial damage from manipulation and serious headaches (because hair follicles weren't used to being pulled in new directions). But now it's fine.
You don't need to braid to grow hair out actually. I just find braids helpful... but if you don't, it's totally fine to avoid them. :)

August 1st, 2014, 11:48 PM
Before I had so many white hairs, I had fine hair. When I was learning, I probably broke some hairs, but once I learned it was easy-peasy. HOwever I was surprised to learn that many hairs worked their way out of my braids, making them very messy, plus those loose hairs tangled up with each other if I allowed my braids to hang free. So now I pin my braids up.

August 2nd, 2014, 12:54 AM
YES, I agree with you in everything you wrote! Finally someone who understands me :D I love the look of braids but they are so damaging for my hair. And it's not just the snapping (this is the worst), pulling and tangling but also the rubbing against my clothes. My hair looks so tortured after wearing a braid, it can't be good. Buns are the way to go but even wearing a ponytail or leaving my hair down is less damaging than braids. My hair is also very fine and "grabby". I've never managed to do a French braid because I can't handle all that snapping.

August 2nd, 2014, 08:48 AM
Phoe, RapunzelKat is right on target when she advised that when braiding you need to keep the strands separate at all times. You use your open fingers like a rake, going down the strands every time you make a crossover in braiding. That keeps the strands from self-braiding at the bottom.

I've been braiding my hair almost daily for many decades and never had any trouble with the braiding..or combing it out afterwards. Of course I don't have your hair type.

After reading your post, I was wondering if perhaps your hair needs to be clarified (followed by a conditioning treatment).

Also, how do you comb out your braidwaves? Do you do it in small sections, working from the bottom to the top?

I am at a loss to understand why braiding would make your scalp hurt...unless you are braiding too tightly.

As for the hair in the drain, could it be you are going thru a shedding cycle of some sort? To help on the drain situation, try brushing (or combing) your hair before beginning to shampoo (before your hair is wet).

If braiding your hair at night is a problem (doing it the regular way), why don't you try braiding with a paranda instead? This way, the paranda is used as the center section of a typical braid, while the rest of your hair forms the other 2 sections.

Lastly, ponytails...not hair friendly at all for several reasons: daily use of a ponytail holder can cause your hair to thin, and you will eventually develop a bald spot where the ponytail was. You can also develop traction alopecia, which is NOT a good thing to have! Ponytails do nothing to actually protect your hair because they are usually swinging everywhere, in contact with clothing, etc.

If you must ponytail, do it only when really necessary.

Inevitably, there will be some breakage when braiding, but doing it slowly helps limit the damage.

August 2nd, 2014, 09:21 AM
have never thought that braiding can be damaging.. I thought it was the most hair friendly thing to do... :)

August 2nd, 2014, 10:38 AM
Never been an issue for me, but I only do basic braids. Three strands and rope braids. I do get a bit of breakage when I try fishtail braids or any other 'elaborate' braids, but that's why I stay away from them. Takes too long to learn. I also think it's important to make sure your hair is well combed before braiding (sectioning well too) and when it comes to braid-waves, I think it's best to just shake them loose. I personally get tangles if I comb through braid-waves. But for me, a hair-tie is far more damaging than a braid.. So much so that I don't use them. Could just be all a matter of hair type though.OH! And on the shedding.. Was your hair braided throughout the day, and then you unraveled to shower? Hair can't fall loose if it's in a braid, so when it's undone, it'll all be visible at once. Giving the illusion of more shedding than usual. - Also, Madora has some good tips!

August 2nd, 2014, 12:00 PM
My hair is very fine and thin. I found braiding left the ends damaged from exposure. I now do a lazy wrap bun and clip my hair up with a larger hair clip. My ends are so much softer, and I've noticed growth too.

Braids are hard for me to do, as my hair is so slippery unless it needs washed. Luckily, there are tons of gorgeous buns out there!

Edit: I also wanted to add that I also clip my hair up on one side of my head to sleep (I side sleep). I then unclip and gather it to the other side if I want to roll over in the morning. Less mechanical damage from my pillow really seems to be helping.

I use regular claw clips chignon style, and these if I want a bun:


since my hair is so fine, they cover my entire wee bun!

August 2nd, 2014, 12:05 PM
have never thought that braiding can be damaging.. I thought it was the most hair friendly thing to do... :)

Braids helped my hair, except the ends. They were getting damaged quickly and I was constantly cutting them off :(

I should probably get a softer pillow if I want to braid at night again