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Question: Can you wash your hair with French braids left in? The answer is NO, not if you want a thorough cleansing.
Trying to wash your hair while French braids or plaits are installed would leave your hair dirtier than would open access to your scalp without braids sealing in the gunk.
You not convinced yet? Click HERE for 3 more reasons why washing your hair with French braids installed is a bad idea.
Don’t get my words twisted like braids, though…
NHP is not sayin’ that French braid aren’t Da BOMB! Because they absolutely are!
French braids are super-cute and protective, you just can’t expect to get a squeaky clean scalp while they remain braided up.
You just have to realize the limitations placed on you as far as THOROUGHLY washing with them and not expect to leave them in for extremely long amounts of time.
Like Dutch braids, French braids are a great protective style for your natural hair, mainly because they are versatile. French braids can last a bit more than a month if they are properly maintained.
…a few weeks after your French braids are installed, they'll definitely be unfresh from dust in the environment, and hair product build-up. And if you sweat a lot they can get downright dirty.
As we answered earlier, No. You can’t expect a true cleansing when washing your hair with French braids left in. Here’s some reasons why…
French braids can be done with natural hair or synthetic hair. If you try to wash them you most likely will end up ruining your braids when you rub the shampoo with your fingers, especially if the French braids are loose. It’s easier for French braids to get frizzy when manipulated.
Most likely you will end up redoing your braids for a cleaner look. Remember to dry your braids properly to avoid mold and mildew from developing.
The main goal of putting on this stylish hairstyle is to protect your natural hair.
Instead of worrying about washing while they are still installed, you should focus on proper maintenance of your French braided hair and keeping it looking as fresh and new as possible for weeks.
Your scalp produces sebum onto the hair, which is a natural hair conditioner, and it will build up if you go too long without washing your French braided hair.
Your scalp will also collect dead skin cells and dust, which are trapped at the roots of your hair, and if they are not cleared, this could easily cause itching & irritation.
These impurities can also block follicles and lead to inflammation.
Washing your hair in between French braid installations will remove product build-up, dirt, dandruff, dead skin cells, and bacteria that may cause breakage or prevent your hair from growing.
Cleaning your hair in between French braid installations is ideal, especially If you workout at the gym everyday or live in a humid climate.
You will need to remove the sweat and the impurities that come with the excess dampness and humidity.
The dead skin cells and product build-up can cause itchiness. Washing your hair in-between French braid installations removes these impurities and, in turn, relieves the itchiness.
The itchiness can also be caused by dandruff. It is recommended that you clean your scalp with a premium anti-dandruff defrizzing shampoo. So if your scalp is itchy or flaky, the remedy is to wash it with your French braids taken out.
Washing Removes Bad Smell
A dirty scalp and hair do not smell good at all. A good wash in-between French braid installations removes the products and the impurities that cause the unpleasant smell.
The French braids are also prone to smelling bad from the mix of dirt, oil, and sweat when you work out or have been in the sun. It is definitely necessary to take them down and wash thoroughly before braiding the hairstyle back in.
Washing Makes Hair Color More Vibrant
The dirt, impurities, and product build-up may discolor your hair and braids. You don’t want your hair color to look dull and dead because of these unwanted impurities.
Washing in-between your French braid installations makes your French braids color look fresh and brilliant.
One of the most common fears of washing your French Braids or any braids is the frizz disaster.
Well, even if you wash in-between French braid installations there are some tips you should follow to avoid frizziness and hair that will end up loosening too soon.
By washing correctly, you won’t have to worry about causing excess frizz or hair that causes braids to fall out.
A hard head makes for a soft behind, still though… Some of you ask “Can you wash your hair with French Braids?”, only expecting to hear a positive response and are unwilling to take no for an answer.
If that’s YOU, I’ll explain to you how to wash your hair with French braids still in even though you won’t get squeaky clean results and it will not look as fresh as a new installation.
So, can you wash your hair with French braids in and look HALFWAY decent? And get SOMEWHAT cleaner? I suppose so, if mediocre results are your cup of tea, lol!
OK, so pay attention, hardhead…
1. Soak Your French Braids
Before putting your shampoo in, soak your French braids with warm water in order to soften the gunk and grime that is tied down under there.
2. Dilute a Good Shampoo Before Applying
The biggest mistake French braided cuties make when washing braided hair is using the same shampoo they used before they braided their hair. French braided hair needs to be washed with a more diluted or gentler cleanser to avoid causing frizz. A good tip is to dilute the shampoo with water for a gentler clean.
You should also use a gentler shampoo formula since your scalp tends to get itchy with braids in, so choose an option that is gentle or consider using a co-wash only method.
A few great cleansers are Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo, DevaCurl No-Poo Original, Carol’s Daughter Marula Curl Therapy Gentle Cream Cleanser and Alikay Naturals Caribbean Coconut Milk Shampoo.
3. Apply Shampoo Gently Wherever You Can Access Your Scalp
With French braids you’ll have poor access to your scalp, but where possible make sure you apply the shampoo directly to your scalp, then using your fingers, gently rub your scalp until it is fully saturated.
This is because most of the dirt build-ups are on the scalp. A clean scalp is the foundation of healthy hair, so it should be an area you give the most care.
Try not to manipulate the actual braid too much in order to avoid frizziness.
4. Squeeze your Braids, Don’t Rub
Avoid rubbing your braids because that will loosen them and make them frizzy, instead, squeeze them closer to the scalp to remove the dirt and residuals.
This method will depend on how your French braids protective style is done. Imagine that you’re trying to “wring out” the shampoo water, it is a better method of washing than rubbing your French braids.
5. Rinse Thoroughly
While rinsing French braids, it is advisable to do it with your head upside down. This will help the dirt escape and not be as trapped it between your braids. Remember never to rub your French braids as you rinse.
6. Condition Your Hair
Even in French braids, you get better results when your hair is conditioned. Apply your favorite premium hair conditioner to the hair and braids until your scalp is saturated.
This is important to make sure your scalp and hair maintain adequate moisture. Note that conditioning your hair while wet is recommended because it is easier to spread throughout your hair.
7. Fully Dry With a Microfiber Towel
Wrap your braids with a big clean microfiber towel. This will soak up the water so that you don’t have to rub your braids. Make sure you fully dry your braids so that they don’t develop a foul, stinky odor.
Take note that your braids can even smell worse after washing if not dried properly. That’s why it is a must to dry your braids thoroughly.
After the French braids are clean and dry, you can now apply hair products to make them look brilliant. You can also use some good edge gel to style your edges.
Can you wash your hair with French braids? How do you wash French braids without ruining them? It’s not easy, but with these 7 steps, your French braids will be a bit cleaner without being totally ruined. The goal is to keep them looking clean and fresh, not brand new.
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Washing your hair in-between French braid installations is ideal, but if for some reason you don’t want to, you have an option of cleaning your scalp without getting your hair wet. One way to get rid of the dirt in your scalp without getting your braids wet is using a dry shampoo.
You can cleanse your scalp with high-grade dry shampoo and dry conditioner, rubbing the product in between your braids or plaits. This helps remove product build-up and soothe an irritating scalp.
Note that using a dry shampoo may increase the residual build-up since it is meant to dry up oil on your hair.
Other tips to note for French & Dutch braids maintenance include:
Answer: Yes, you can get your French braids wet in the shower, pool, and when it's raining. However, NHP always recommends taking certain precautions to protect your braids from fungal growth, hair damage, frizz, and unraveling.
Just be thorough in your drying process in order to avoid the potential risks of getting your French braids wet.
Answer: Yes, you can wash your hair in certain types of plaits. To keep your plaited hair healthy, you should wash your braids every two to three weeks.
If you're not washing your hair and scalp regularly all of the product buildup gunk and dry dead skin just stays on your scalp, which can lead to flakes and itchiness.
Answer: There are 2 NHP methods for washing hair in sections or plaits.
NHP Method #1 of washing in sections will allow you to hang onto relaxed ends longer, avoid splits, and decrease "detangling" time atleast 5-10 minutes for your entire head.
You need to part your hair down the middle of your head (hairline to nape), and then further divide those halves into 3 sections each. This leaves you with 6 sections. You can experiment with smaller sections, but 6 seems to be the magic number to allow hairstylists to adequately get to the scalp, smaller braids tend to be too tight for this.
Leave your braids in for the entire washing process, pre-poo, shampoo and deep condition. This is key! This way, your hair never gets a chance to tangle through the entire process, so combing at the end is so easy!
If you’re skeptical about deep conditioning in braids, thinking that your favorite deep conditioner product won’t thoroughly coat your strands, you’re wrong!
Simply use an applicator bottle with a nozzle to get down near the roots, and try to always deep condition with a hooded dryer to help your deep conditioner adequately reach and penetrate the inner strands.
In the end, because your hair never has a chance to tangle outside of the braids, "detangling" is as simple as running a comb through each section to get rid of any minor tangling, and then you can run a denman brush through it to remove any shed hair.
It takes 5-8 minutes, at the most if your hair was pre-straightened or 10 minute if you’d been wearing a textured style the previous week.
NHP Method #2
This method helps lose only a few strands of hair, as opposed to a huge handful of breakage. Breakage is a huge problem for many women who often get huge clumps of hair during the detangling process.
This NHP technique isn’t for the lazy but the result will have you singing and jumping for joy!
You’ll put your hair in 4 loose plaits and secure them with little barrettes. You then wash your hair with a premium shampoo, take out the plaits and apply a high-quality moisture intense conditioner.
After conditioning you need to re-plait your hair, rinse your hair and take the plaits again for detangling. During the combout session, you lose so little hair it will be utterly unbelievable. You love it, and you can do this for every wash!
Here’s a quick checklist, you’ll love this method:
While this protective hair style is suitable for women who want to protect or grow their hair, French braids require close attention and care to keep them installed for long.
To maintain and improve your natural hair health while wearing French braids or another protective style, make sure you clean and moisturize your hair and scalp often.
The best way to get a complete cleansing is to remove the French braids, wash, and rebraid. Can you wash your hair with French braids?
End of the day, there’s not a good way to PROPERLY wash installed French braids without loosening the hairstyle or causing frizz.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melissa Lee
Melissa Lee is a Contributing Editor to NHP and a former owner of the BlackhairOMG website. She formed 4C Trichology Growth Services, LLC., a US based hair care consultation service. She has also contributed as a writer and consultant for various hair and beauty websites. Melissa can be followed on Twitter here.