Micro braiding African hair is a form of three strand braiding that uses regular hair extensions. 3 strand braiding with regular hair extensions is a hair braiding technique that entails using three strands of one’s own hair combined with a hair piece forming rope like braids. African braids that are made using this technique are easy to manage and maintain. The hair extensions come in a wide variety of colors like black, brown, gold, misty blue, shocking pink, blood red, which means that all age groups will find a suitable color to suit their tastes.
Three strand braiding using hair extensions can be broadly sub divided into the following techniques and styles: Thin micro braids, regular micro braids, thick three strand braids, very thick three strand braids and tree braids. Some African hair braiding techniques like braided African American bobs require knowledge of three strand braiding as a prerequisite. We will be focusing on how to micro braid hair in this article.
How To Micro Braid African American Hair Video
Micro braiding African hair begins by parting a small section of hair and dividing it into three (watch the how to micro braid African American hair video above). If you are interested in getting thin micro braids, divvy up hair extensions that are about the thickness of one strand or two strands of knitting wool. If you would like medium sized braids which are also the most common hair braids among African Americans, then the thickness of the hair extensions that you will separate and use for braiding should be similar to the thickness found in combining 3 strands of four ply knitting wool. For large and extra large braids, the thickness should be the same as combining 6 and 9 strands of four ply knitting wool respectively.
Take two hair extension strands that are of the same thickness as described above and loop them together forming a chain link. Place the chain linked hair extension onto center of the section of hair that you divided into three earlier. Combine two strands of the chain linked hair extensions with one strand of natural hair. Then combine each of the remaining two strands of chain linked hair extensions with the remaining two strands of natural hair.
Apply a lubricant on your finger tips like TCB’s hair food, then braid by taking the natural hair – hair extension combo on the left under and to the right. Then take the natural hair – hair extension combo on the right under and to the left. Ensure that the braids are tight. Repeat the step again by taking the natural hair – hair extension combo on the left under and to the right, then taking the natural hair – hair extension combo on the right under and to the left. Repeat these steps until you have one complete strand of braids. Then populate the whole head with braids.
Things You Need To Know And Get To Plait And Maintain the Perfect Micro Braids
Prior to plaiting micro braids, ensure that you have thoroughly washed your hair using a good shampoo and conditioner. If you have a perm, apply treatment to your hair so that it does not break when you decide to remove your braids later on. Applying treatment to your hair is especially important if your hair is naturally thin. Whether you have perm or not, you should finish by blow drying and combing your hair then applying a suitable hair food like TCB’s hair food.
There are different types of hair extensions that can be used to plait micro braids. The two common types are human hair and synthetic hair. High quality human hair is also known as remy hair. If you do decide to reuse your hair extensions wash them in warm water; do not use piping hot water. Hot water hair extensions can also be used instead of regular hair extensions. Hot water hair extensions curl up permanently when their ends are dipped in hot water. The great thing about hot water hair extensions is that you can revert back to straight hair extensions by dipping the braids into hot water again.
Other than hair extensions, some of the tools you will need to micro braid your hair are, a good toothed comb, braid spray, hair food like TCB or if you are in a pinch, Vaseline. The hair food is a good lubricant for your fingers as you braid the hair extensions along with your natural hair. Hair food also allows the hair extension ends to lie flat after your hair has been braided.
You need to buy about 3 packages of braid hair extension packages. This is just a guideline. The size of your head and the thickness of the braids that you want may increase or decrease the number of packages required. Different companies may also offer varying quantities of hair extensions within their packages.
The common way of finishing thin or regular micro braids is to use very hot water. Get a basin or jug and some towels. Put a towel along your back atop your shoulders. Dip the ends of the braids into the basin or jug that contains hot water. It is easier and safer to dip a few braids in hot water at a time. Thoroughly dry the wet braids with another towel. After dipping all the braids into hot water and drying them, you could finish the braids by tying a ribbon or attaching a hair band or hairclip at the nape then apply braid spray. Instead of using hot water, you could tie a small knot at the base of every hair braid strand. However it is much faster to use hot water than it is to tie knots.
Another way of finishing micro braids is to tie a small knot at the base of every hair braid strand. The main problem of tying knots is you would have to cut them out with scissors if you decide to remove your hair braids and wanted to reuse them. If you desired to reuse the hair extensions they would be slightly shorter.
There are two common ways of removing braided three strand hair extensions. You could cut out the hair extensions that are below your natural hair then using a toothed wooden comb pick the braid apart from its center. However, the easiest way of removing braids is to pick the center of the braid at the top with a toothed wooden comb, then tug or pull the hair extension at the bottom to remove it.
Advantages of Micro Braiding Hair
- You can create wide array of hairstyles.
- You can generally wash them when you desire.
- You can oil them.
- The hair extensions come in a wide selection of colors so there is no need to get into dying them.
- You can dramatically change their look by applying curls to them.
- You can make large or thicker braids in a very short period of time. Thicker braids can be made in less than two hours.
- They are easy to manage and maintain.
- If they are well maintained, they can last for 4 – 6 months without looking unsightly and untidy.
Disadvantages of Micro Braiding Hair
- Micro braids can take a long time to plait. Indeed, very thin micro braids can take a whole day or longer to braid depending on the size of your head and your hair braiding speed.
- Thinner braids are harder to remove.
- Thinner braids could damage your hairline.
- A whole day can be spent removing thinner micro braids.
- If you stay with the braids for a long time, your hair can get long growth; the braids may also break or unravel.
- If the braids are subjected to prolonged heat and humidity they may begin to smell, they may also become itchy and uncomfortable.
It is more difficult to braid very short hair than long hair. It can be challenging to make the initial braid at the hair root if the hair is too short. You must be able to combine some natural hair along with the hair extension otherwise the braids will unravel.
Micro Braids Maintenance
- Avoid dusty environments.
- Wear a head scarf or net when you rest your head on your pillow on your bed.
- Avoid vigorously pulling the braids when you are styling them.
- Use Braid Spray to prevent itching and to properly moisturize your scalp.
- If water or rain water gets into the micro braids, you will need to wash and lightly brush the tops of the braids with shampoo and conditioner; otherwise the braids may start smelling. Dry the braids with a towel then blow dry them to remove any lingering moisture. Apply Braid Spray then style the braids as you desire.
- Use mineral oil (white oil) applied on cotton wool to clean out dirt on the scalp.
How Can Micro Braids Be Braided Improperly?
- By failing to thoroughly comb your hair before starting to braid your hair.
- By braiding hair that is not part of the current three parted hair sections group. That is, avoid picking up hair that is not designated for that particular braid strand as the braids will be untidy.
- Braiding too tightly. This will cause pain and may damage the hairline.
- Braiding too loosely. The braids will look messy and unravel quickly.
- Leaving the braids unfinished. If you leave the braids unfinished they will quickly unravel.