However, braiding too tightly is not recommended as it can cause problems like hair loss, headaches and/or Traction Alopecia.
Definition of Traction Alopecia:
Traction alopecia is a form of alopecia, or gradual hair loss, caused primarily by pulling force being applied to the hair.:761:645 This commonly results from the sufferer frequently wearing his/her hair in a particularly tight ponytail, pigtails, or braids. It is also seen occasionally in long-haired people who use barrettes to keep hair out of their faces.
In order to prevent Traction Alopecia, I recommend that you do not braid your child's hair too tight. The braids may look better if they are tight, but it is definitely NOT worth it. Any tight tension is not good for the hairline, scalp or the hair in its entirety. Remember that curly hair is very delicate and therefore should be handled and cared for properly. Traction Alopecia is not something you should take lightly. The damage this causes can be permanently.
YES, if the braids are NOT done tightly the style may NOT look as nice or may NOT last long but to be honest, I rather for the style to last two weeks and my child's hair be healthy than for the style to last a month or two and damage my child's hair.
Listen to your child: It is very important that if you child tells you "it hurts", take their word for it and re-check that particular cornrow or braid and re-do the braid if you have to. I know it can be very annoying at times but pain and itchiness is not normal. If you notice little bumps on the scalp, remove the braids, massage the scalp and give the hair a break by choosing another protective style like: Two Strand Twist, Flat Twists, Bun or Box Braids that are done a bit lose from the root.
Always be kind to their tresses and keep the hairline in mind at all times.
I honestly believe that braiding the hair does not makes it grow! I think that the hair grows by having a healthy routine, using the right moisturizing products, using protective styles to lower the chances of breaking, and of course trimming. I also suggest minimizing the use of heat (i.e. blow dryers, hot rollers, etc.), stay away from relaxers. I instead try "banding" as a method for stretching the hair.
Keeping the hair and scalp healthy is and should always be the main focus. Healthy hair DOES grow, it may not grow as fast as you would like, but it does grow.
QUICK GUIDELINE TO PREVENT BREAKAGE:
Hair breakage is another common problem seen in children with curly hair, however, this is preventable.
Breakage is another cause for the hair not to grow. Using a wide tooth comb can help prevent breakage. At the beginning of my journey I was using a regular comb and every time I tried to detangle my daughter's hair I noticed chunks of hair were on the comb along with the tangles. Try using a wide tooth comb, denman combs are very popular but I always use a wide tooth comb and my finger to detangle my daughter's hair.
To keep the hair healthy I recommend you deep conditioning once a week or at least every other week. Try using a deep conditioner (repair treatment) and/or Hot Oil Treatment. Then use a shower cap and a warm towel over the cap to crate heat instead of a blow dryer. I deep condition my children's hair at least once a month.
DO NOT RELAX OR PERM the hair, I cannot stress how damaging this can be to the hair.
Don't over shampoo, as I have mentioned before, over shampooing will dry the hair out. Sulfate Free Shampoo is the best you can use on their curls.
Not conditioning enough can be another reason why the hair is dry. I use two different of conditioners, a "rinse out" conditioner and a Leave In Conditioner. Remember curly hair needs moisturize since curly hair is often dry by nature, so don’t be afraid to moisturize as needed. I moisturize my daughter's hair as often as I feel she needs it. I concentrate on moisturizing her ends, roots and scalp.
"Do not over do it". This is one of my favorite myths. My mother was a big believer of the "100 strokes per day", but what she didn't know is that the 100 stroke rule does NOT apply to curly hair. In fact, the less you manipulate curly hair the healthier it becomes.
I will repeat this again: protective styles are curly hair's best friend!! Protective styles keep your ends from drying. One of the problems we encounter are dry ends from car seats. I believe the best solution for this is to use a satin cap while the child is in the car seat. You can quickly take it off when you are ready to get him/her out. Another great idea is to make a tiny pillow with satin case to have in your car. I actually made one myself that I keep in the car, but satin cap works best. Use the satin cap for bedtime as well. Cotton pillow cases can create a frizz and dry their out hair as well.
So always remember the following:
* Healthy hair care routine;
*Moisturize as needed;
*Use the right tools;
*Don't over brush the hair;
*Really consider the hairstyle before doing it.
*Braids are a good protective style as long as you don’t do them too tight!
I hope this helps and do know that you are not alone in your journey. Finding what works for your child's hair can be overwhelming. Comments, questions and suggestions are welcome.