Braiding and Hair Damage

Young lady who is braiding her own hair
Photo: Dreamstime
Q: Is braiding bad for your hair? I'm afraid that the tension caused by braiding will damage my hair.
How can I avoid this? Do I need to use a certain braiding method or hair products to avoid damage to my hair?

A: The key to damage-free braiding is to make sure to use only enough tension to create even smooth braids. You can use a leave-in conditioner or hair oil (for ethnic hair) while braiding the hair to help it stay smooth, or use a conditioning styling product to keep flyaways under control.
Done well, braids can be a great way to give your hair a break from normal styling methods that use heat and brushing stresses. You just want to avoid ever feeling like your hair is "too tight" when you've braided it. If the scalp feels like it is being pulled you could be pulling hairs loose.
If you're wearing a braided style for a while, be sure to keep the hair freshened by using a leave-in conditioner to keep it moisturized, soft and smelling clean. You can also use a touch of pomade to control flyaways and keep the look crisp when it starts get looser.
See also:
Damaged hair
How to recognize hair breakage
How to braid hair
How much hair will stretch