Box braids are hands down my favourite protective style. They are my go-to hair style for vacations and the warmer summer months because they take little-to-no effort to take care of and they keep my natural 4C hair protected from environmental pollutants and any sea or chlorinated water contamination. Although the convenience of box braids means that I can roll out of bed a full hour later without pre-planning an exhaustive morning hair routine of detangling, hair serums and twist outs which eventually end in a messy top bun – that does not mean I completely neglect caring for my hair while I have box braids. It would be pointless to sit through five or more hours to get these Rihanna approved box braids in order to protect my hair if I didn’t help out the process by treating my hair periodically while still in braids.
Whenever I get my braids done, I typically leave them in for about 6 weeks. During this time, the upkeep is very straight forward – it mainly involves using an oil treatment on my scalp to keep my roots moisturized and re-dipping my ends in hot water to keep flyaways at bay. The most time I dedicate to my braids is when I co-wash and deep condition every three to four weeks. Compared to how much work maintaining my natural hair is, this process is relatively simple and involves two of my favourite Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil products from the Strengthen and Restore Line – the Rinse Out Conditioner and the Leave-In Conditioner.
If you are not familiar with co-washing, this is a process that relies on washing your hair using only conditioner. Black natural hair, especially that of the 4C hair type variety, rely heavily on their natural oils to maintain their health. As a result, using shampoos very often can strip our hair of their essential oils and leave our hair brittle. Opting to co-wash instead helps prevent this stripping process while maintaining high moisture levels necessary to strengthen our hair.
Over the span of the six weeks I rock my box braids, I co-wash every two weeks. I dilute the Jamaican Black Castor Oil Rinse Out Conditioner with some water and focus the solution on the roots of my hair and up the base of my box braids. Once saturated, I throw on a shower cap and allow the conditioner to deep condition and set a timer for about 30 minutes to an hour. During this time, I catch up on emails, do errands around the house and binge watch my favourite Netflix shows. Once the timer rings, I simply rinse the conditioner out with warm water, making sure to not rub at the roots but allow the water pressure from my shower head to do all the work. An additional step I like to do is to rinse out my roots with an apple cider vinegar and water solution to help cut through any conditioner that has stuck behind. Finally, I rinse through with cold water quickly to lock all that moisture in.
After blotting my hair dry using a cotton fibre towel, I grab my Jamaican Black castor Oil Leave-In conditioner. I apply a lot of this leave-in conditioner onto my roots because this is the product that will ensure my hair stays conditioned and moisturized until my next co-wash day. I avoid using heat on my hair at all costs, so I just let the conditioner air dry as I finish off errands around the house (or catch the last few episodes of the show I totally binge watched instead of being productive).
Using the Shea Moisture products for the past 5 or so years has made a real difference in my hair. 4C hair is such a specific hair type that requires a specific set of ingredients for it to flourish. If you haven’t already tried the Jamaican Black Castor Oil line on your 4C hair, which includes an amazing range of products from shampoos to blow dry crémes and anti-breakage sprays, I highly recommend it. The natural ingredients and gentle formulation ensure that our 4C hair is taken care of at every step and helps us maintain our crowns even when in protective styles throughout the warmer summer months.
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Shea Moisture’s #BeYourBeautiful Campaign; however, all thoughts and ideas are my own.