I was recently asked whether it was harmful to dye hair and then subsequently braid it.
The answer is YES. The reason is simple:
When you have your hair dyed, the cuticle layer has to be lifted in order to let the dye in. The cuticle layer is then flattened again but the very act of lifting and flattening the layer weakens it. At times, the cuticle layer doesn't get re-flattened properly leading to hair damage.
If you then go to braid your hair you're braiding hair who's protein infrastructure has been weakened. The likelihood of incurring hair breakage is therefore higher.
When can you braid your hair again?
I would say wait until about 6 weeks have passed or when you have about half an inch of new hair growth before you braid your hair. Your new growth won't have been dyed and will be stronger - the protein infrastructure will be intact. In addition, after a few deep conditions and hot oil treatments the color-treated hair will have been re-fortified and will therefore be more ready to hold a braid. Relaxing hair weakens hair more than dyeing natural hair.
Have you braided your hair quite soon after dyeing it and faced a bad result due to that?
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Is It Bad To Dye / Color Hair Then Get Extensions?
A while ago I went to get my hair braided and the stylist told me that I don't have "the type of hair that can live without blow-drying". She said my hair needed the blow dry to reduce tangles. I had already concluded that she knew nothing about naturally curly hair but her statement did get me thinking.
At the time, I hadn't blow dried my hair in over a year and after shoulder length I found that tangles are a massive problem if you don't have tangle coping strategies.
I'm still resistant to blow drying on a regular basis because I don't want to get heat damage but over time I have become comfortable with blow drying my hair whenever I get plaits at a salon. This is roughly every 3 to 4 months.
This is what my research on how to blow dry curly hair more gently taught me...
Top tips for blow drying hair gently:
Denise Blaize @MsDBlaize shared this image with me on Twitter.
My very initial reaction was to imagine those little girls that are "forced" into beauty pageants by their mother and made to change themselves in every which way: hair, makeup, body, clothes.
I hate those competitions because kids that young do not need to be that focused on the way they look.
I can imagine letting a kid enter one of those for fun but when it becomes a lifestyle of contest after contest, there's an issue.
Anyhow, as soon as I had those initial thoughts upon seeing the hair dye, I went straight to thinking about my perception of hair and relaxer as I grew up.
As you may know I was born and bred in Malawi, Africa.
In addition to her day job, my mother was into hair and started a hair salon as a side-gig when I was very young. Lots of new stuff was tried out on little Heather and I had relaxed hair from like age 4/5.
Now, I'm not mad at my mum at all. Relaxer was marketed as a solution for hair management and there wasn't any information at the time that would suggest it could cause any long term harm to hair growth or scalp issues. I did get burned every time I had a relaxer but as we say in my language, "Kutchena ndi kupilira", "Beauty is persevering".
A few people on the Facebook page immediately jumped onto the chemicals are dangerous argument. I don't want to talk about that in this post.
My personal belief is that the chemicals are obviously safe enough for human use but in my personal experience, based on my own head, over a 20 year period relaxer started making my hair thinner and the strands weaker.
But as I said, this post is not about chemicals - ignore "chemicals" in any comments. I'm interested in the message we send to little girls.
Ultimately, I subconsciously believed the following:
Underlying those subconscious beliefs was the even more lethal belief:
Relaxer was not just an alternative look, it was "the look" I needed to have. It took a hair tragedy (thinning hair) for me to revise my views.
LET KIDS BE KIDS
I think children should be allowed to be children. One of the most important parts of growing up is accepting yourself as you are. Persistent dyeing and relaxing of hair doesn't give kids the right message. Changes to hair should, in my opinion, be non-permanent to show the kid this is just for variety but you look great as you are.
What do you think? What did you grow up believing was acceptable or now, subconsciously or consciously. Comment below or on the Facebook post.
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I was a natural hair blogger and mixtress living between London & Chicago from 2012 to 2017. I always thought I was 4C but some say 4B; images below - you decide! Heather xx