Preparing Hair Extensions for Braids

I maintain my own hair. This includes, styling, shampooing, trimming, etc. I haven’t stepped into a salon in years. Although I’m tempted to go for a professional trim/assessment, but…procrastination and YouTube tutorials haha self-explanatory. Click here to see how I currently maintain my braids.

Just recently, I decided to add an extra step in the process I take to get my extensions ready for installing braids.

I currently use the popular kanekalon brand of braid extensions. They are inexpensive. I need this especially since I change my style frequently in a year (that bill adds up!). I use them for quick styles like box-braids, regular braids, etc. These extensions are easy to shop for and I get exactly what I need. With that said, I’m giving myself a “Gold Star” for simplifying my life in this way lol. 

I recommend embarking on this preparation technique 1 to 2 weeks before actually braiding your hair because of step #5.

Items needed:

  • ACV (apple cider vinegar)
  • Lots of regular sized bobby pins
  • Cheap clarifying shampoo
  • A shallow bucket of sorts
  • A towel
  • Optional: blow dryer

Step#1: Shampoo

As I’ve learned over the course of my natural hair journey it’s important to wash off the chemicals used to increase the in-store shelf life of your hair extensions. Ignoring this usually results in an itchy irritated scalp for days, that can be damaging over time. I call this: "senseless torture", because once your hair is done and looking cute, you don’t feel like taking it out all over again if your scalp feels like it’s on fire. You try to convince yourself that you must be overreacting. But that’s a story for another post! Lol

I open the first bundle of hair from its plastic packaging (Tip: DO NOT cut the rubber band tied around the bundle) and I soak it in a shallow bucket of water. I use the rubber band that comes with the bundle to hold the hair while I wash it.

I add some Clarifying shampoo and run/spread it top to bottom (repeat). Never in a back and forth motion. You want to limit the amount of knots in the hair. I lather it up and keep running my fingers through it as I wash the bundle of hair.

Step#2: Rinse

Next, I quickly soak/rinse out the shampoo in the bucket of water I have.

Step#3: ACV

Here, I rinse the bundle of hair again with a diluted bottle of ACV. In the purchased bottle of ACV (or a separate bottle, your choice) I create a mixture of  half water, half ACV (or 1-part water; 1-part ACV). Then I just lightly rinse out some of the ACV in some water.

Step#4: Drying

I put the bundle in a towel and (aggressively) shake out the excess water in the bathtub/shower
If I’m prepping only HOURS before I need to put in my new braids, I use a blow dryer to completely dry the extension bundle after shaking out the excess water. Otherwise you can just hang the bundle on a plastic clothing hanger in the shower and let it air-dry.

Step #5: If you’re doing this 1-2 weeks or so before you actually braid your hair, then you’ll have time for this step.

I discovered that it would be MUCH EASIER if I sectioned off the extension pieces BEFORE I start braiding so that I can just pick one section and start braiding immediately, instead of wasting time parting and preparing the hair, if that makes sense.

What I do is section off the hair to the thickness I want and then clip it in a bobby pin then secure it (in a new bundle) in a plastic bag (or your preference!) until I’m ready to braid my hair. I bought a lot of bobby pins but that’s a small price to pay for my time in the long run! It works marvelously. I was less tired and stressed and I finished in record time.

I don’t know if you've tried this out or not but I know I’m probably not the only one discovering this piece of genius haha If you have tried it, then let me know if it's ideal or not!