African bob braids are a distinct and unique form of braiding African hair because three different hair braiding techniques are used to create them. African bob braids which are also known as question mark braids are single short braids whereby hot water hair extension braids are hair wrapped, and then a three strand braid is plaited. The three strand braids run the length of the scalp from the forehead to the nape of the neck, forming a short bob. Hot water braids are used because they tend to be thicker and heavier than regular synthetic or human hair extensions. Cornrows are braided along the bottom half of the scalp prior to hair wrapping and three strand braiding.
How To Do A Braided African American Bob Hair Style – Video
Before you begin braiding, ensure that you wash and condition your hair. Blow dry your hair using a low temperature setting on your blow dryer. Ensure your hair is tangle free by combing it out using a wide toothed comb. Thereafter, oil your scalp evenly and massage using a quality hair food. Note, if you have a perm, you must apply treatment first before braiding an African hair bob.
You need a toothed wooden comb, candle, matches, scissors, TCB hair food or if you find nothing else available, use Vaseline. On average, you should obtain three hot water braid hair extension packages. You also need a needle and one package of 100% acrylic wool to help sew in the ends of cornrows.
It is preferable to use a lubricant like TCB hair food on your fingers which assists with reducing discomfort caused by your fingers making constant contact with the hot water hair extensions. A good lubricant applied on your fingers also helps any stray hair extension strings lie flat on a braided strand.
You will need to carefully burn the ends of the braided hair extensions using a lit candle. Burning or melting the ends is essential as it gives the braided ends more weight thereby allowing the braided strand to curve inwards.
WARNING: Be vigilant while burning the ends of African bob braids.
The ends can be decorated with beads or shells prior to burning them. For a unique look, you may prefer to use multicolored hot water braid extensions.
One method of removing the question marks is by cutting the melted burnt ends then undoing the hair extensions using a wide tooth picked comb.
You can also cut the hair extension after you determine the length of your natural hair, then use a wide toothed comb to undo the hair extensions. This is a much faster method.
- They are short and easy to manage.
- You use a lesser quantity of hair extensions because hot water hair extensions are used on only half of your head.
- You can wash the hair extensions without worrying about the braids falling off.
- They strengthen the natural hair.
- They are neat and unique.
- They can last for between 8 to 12 weeks when well maintained.
- You cannot change the African bob hair style.
- They are cumbersome to undo.
- The hot water hair extension is not reusable.
- Caution should be taken not to strongly pull the natural hair when plaiting question mark braids from the hairline as this will weaken the hair and break it.
Braiding long hair is more challenging than braiding short hair. This is because you need to fold the long natural hair so as to shorten it which can be time consuming especially if you are new to braiding hair bobs. Please watch the video above at about the 2 minute mark to see how to fold long hair.
There are three sizes or thickness of African bob braids: thin, medium and thick.
For someone who has had experience with question mark braids, thin African bob braids take three hours to braid. Medium size question mark braids take two hours. Thick bob braids take about one and a half hours to complete.
All three sizes of African bob braids take up to three months before they begin showing signs of untidiness. This is as long as the wrapping at the hair root and acrylic woolen thread that holds the cornrows together are firm.
To maintain your bob braids for a longer time, you will need to use braid spray or oil your scalp regularly using hair food. Also before you sleep, you may wrap your head with a silk cloth so as to maintain the shape of the braids. Avoid very dusty areas.
If you constantly soak your braids in the water, they will become loose. However, if your hair isn’t dirty, you may wipe the water with a towel and/ or use a blow drier to dry the water, and then apply braid spray.
When African bob braids become dirty, you can shampoo them with warm water and then blow dry them. Apply braid spray to moisturize them.
- If bob braids are braided improperly, the edges of the braids will open up and tend to look very untidy, unkempt and aged. The braids may also become loose and will unravel.
- If you just tie knots at the braid’s ends, the braided strand may fail to curl inwards.
- The question mark braids will look untidy if they are not more or less level at the nape.
- You can also braid African bob braids improperly if you do not wrap the hot water hair extensions tightly around your natural hair.
- If you do not hair wrap the hot water hair extensions around your natural hair up to about an inch, and then begin three strand braiding.
You could combine hair weaves and other braiding techniques creating unique hairstyles.