Braids are a gorgeous protective style for natural and transitioning hair, especially during the summer.
They last for 6 – 8 weeks and can help bring on a growth spurt but there’s something about them that can be very unpleasant.
The very irritating scalp itching that comes with installing braids.
This itching almost made me give up on braids a few years ago because it was annoying and uncomfortable.
It also makes you look like a complete lunatic when you dig your hand into your braids in public and start scratching your scalp.
Eventually, I discovered several tips and tricks that can lead to an itch-free braids experience from day 1.
I also created a fantastic braid spray that works wonders for the few times you do feel itching.
A lot of women believe applying hair oils is the answer to itchy braids.
However, that will only make the itching ten times worse as I discovered when I tried it.
In addition, the oils will cause build-up on the scalp and if you apply them to your edges, can also cause hair loss. So what’s the solution then?
Why Do Braids Itch When You First Get Them?
Most braids are installed with Kanekalon hair, which has an alkaline base. This base is supposed to prevent molding and make the hair heat resistant.
Unfortunately, the base also causes scalp irritation and leads to itching. If you scratch, you will make it worse.
Bumps on the scalp and around the hair perimeter are also possible side effects from this alkaline base.
Do Box Braids Damage Hair?
Yes, it can damage hair if they are installed too tight, you use the wrong kind of extensions or you don’t take care of your hair while wearing braids.
If you keep away from these three things, then box braids cannot damage your hair and is a great protective style that allows your hair to grow and flourish.
A future article will break down how to take care of box braids and make them last 8 – 12 weeks without damaging your hair.
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How to Stop Itchy Braids – Apple Cider Vinegar Mix
If you haven’t installed your braids yet, here’s the first thing you need to do to prevent itching pre-installation.
- Fill a large bowl with lukewarm water then pour in 1 cup of apple cider vinegar (regular distilled white vinegar works too) and mix together.
- Dip your Kanekalon hair into the water and swish around then leave it in the water for 30 minutes. Dip the hair as is. Don’t remove the rubber band holding the hair in place.
- A white film will start to rise to the surface. That’s the culprit right there.
- Afterward, rinse the Kanekalon hair thoroughly in lukewarm water, squeeze gently, and leave to air dry.
- You can also spray it with the DIY anti-itch braid spray below before air drying.
- Some people also shampoo and/or condition the Kanekalon hair at this stage but I think it’s not necessary as the vinegar smell will dissipate by the time the hair is dry.
This step should stop the itching that usually comes post-installation.
However, everyone’s hair and scalp are different, so you may still experience some itching, which is where the next step comes in.
Best Anti Itch Braid Spray
This DIY anti-itch braid spray is very effective and works to provide relief within minutes.
Additionally, it can lead to a growth spurt in summer because of the essential oils added. It’s light and doesn’t cause build-up.
DIY Braid Spray Ingredients
- 1 spray bottle (8oz)
- 1 bottle of rose water like Elma and Sana Rosewater
- 1 bottle of Kinky Curly Knot Today or another water-based leave-in. See 18 Best Liquid Leave-in Conditioners for recommendations
- 5 drops of tea tree essential oil
- 5 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil
- 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
Directions for Anti Itch Braid Spray
- Open up the spray bottle and fill almost to the top with the rosewater.
- Add in 2 tablespoons of Kinky Curly Knot Today or whichever leave in you are using. Close the bottle and shake well.
- Open the spray bottle and add in the essential oils one after the other.
- Close and shake again. Your anti-itch braid spray is ready.
The braid spray should be a bit cloudy but still clear. If it’s not clear then it’s too thick and may cause build-up. Dilute with some more rosewater.
My scalp quite likes the ratio of the essential oil but if it’s too much for your scalp, you can reduce it to 3 drops of each essential oil.
You can also replace lavender essential oil with lemongrass essential oil if you like. Star anise essential oil is another good replacement.
How to Use DIY Anti Itch Braid Spray
Spray generously on your braids every morning or every few days depending on how your scalp feels.
One 8 oz bottle should last for about two weeks. The relief from this anti-itch braid spray should be instantaneous.
You can use the anti-itch spray on cornrows under wigs and weaves as well. The mix may separate so give it a good shake before you apply.
Below is a pic of the spray bottle I just made this evening for my cornrows under a wig. It takes less than 10 minutes to mix the recipe.
DIY Anti Itch Braid Spray
Best Hair For Box Braids
It’s important to also buy authentic Kanekalon hair for braids installation.
If you buy fake hair, it can make the itching a hundred times worse and may continue even after you do all of the above.
I’ve been using X-Pressions Premium Hair for as long as I can remember and they’re quite good.
They also help braids last longer and protect the integrity of your hair. You can grab a 6 pack deal HERE.
The final solution to prevent itchy braids is to wash your braids every 2 – 3 weeks but there’s a method to this.
The step by step method is covered in How to Wash Box Braids Without Causing Frizz.