I tried to make my braid out last all week. Here’s what happened.

As a part time writer and a full time naturalista I am always on the hunt for new hair products to add to my junkie stash, researching the best hair care tips and avidly watching YouTube hairstyle tutorials on a semi-daily basis. Wash days for me are just that, spending an entire day to detangle, wash, deep condition, set my style and then wait for my hair to air dry. This can take anywhere from 10-12 hours.

I transitioned to #TeamNatural in 2011 when I was a Sophomore in college, so spending a lot of time and money to maintain it was a struggle. Bu,t thanks to my YouTube hair crush Naptural85 and her countless tutorials, I learned simple styles, hair care tips and budget friendly products that helped me on my journey. I have 4a and 4b coils with extreme shrinkage. However, when stretched from a braid-out style, my hair is about neck length.

This week I tried to make by braid-out last all 7 days, which is the dream for women who have little time to reset their styles during the week.

Here’s what happened.

Monday, October 5:

I washed my hair with Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Shampoo and conditioned it with Pantene Cleansing Conditioner. This was my first time using either of these products, which I picked up at my friend’s house one night after dinner. She has a closet full of hair products so I did a little shopping there until I had time to go out a buy my staple Shea Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner. I am so glad I tried the Pantene conditioner because my hair felt extremely soft and moisturized. After conditioning, I applied Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Grow & Leave-In Conditioner and braided my hair with Eden Bodyworks’ Curl Defining Creme. I added perm rods to the ends of my braids and let them air dry over night.

Tuesday, October 6:

 

Today I ran a few errands, nothing major so I decided not to take my braids out. I simply put them in a low bun and threw on a hat on for the day. Keeping in my braids for an extra day, in my opinion, maximizes the longevity of my braid-out and produces better definition.

Wednesday, October 7:

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Technically Day 1 of me actually taking out my braids.

 

Today was the first day I took down my braids. I removed the perm rods and one by one, unraveled the braids and lightly fluffed my hair with an Afro pick for extra volume.

I enrolled in a karate class today with my friend because, YOLO, but was nervous because I didn’t want my hair to get frizzy on day one. Luckily, by the end of the class my hair remained intact. At night I put on a silk bonnet and went to sleep.

Thursday October 8:

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Day 2: My hair is super defined.

 

I stayed home today and wrote up a few articles for work. My hair is still very defined but has more volume than yesterday. As the week progresses by hair will get bigger, which I love.

Friday October 9:

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Day 3: I haven’t added any other products.

 

Today I went out to breakfast with a friend. Before leaving the house I separated some the sections more to make it bigger. I haven’t added any extra products to my hair and it is still moisturized and defined.

Saturday October 10:

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Day 4: I loved this hair day.

I decided to switch up my style and put the front section in a bun. I went to a street festival so I was outside all day but thankfully the humidity was low and my hair didn’t frizz up too much. My fourth day is usually my favorite hair day because it has the most volume, the bigger the better.

Spoiler alert: I re-braided my hair tonight night only because I am going to an engagement dinner party tomorrow and want a sleeker look. I sprayed my hair with water and used Olive Oil Eco Styler Gel and let my hair air dry over night.

Sunday October 11:

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Day 5: I did a re-braid for extra definition.

I took out my braids and noticed that my hair was extremely soft and looked very similar to my Monday definition. But, by the end of the day, my hair had swelled to my day three definition.

Monday October 12:

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Day 6: My favorite hair look of the week.

This was probably my favorite hair day all week. I’ve never just used just water and eco gel before, I usually use a leave in or another styler in between. But I was experimenting, and the results were in my favor. I re-fluffed Monday morning and sat out on the porch with my laptop for work because the summer made a slight comeback in NYC with beautiful weather.

The verdict:

Although I did re-braid my hair, I didn’t mind too much because I still had six great hair days. When I first went natural I was re-braiding my hair every night because I wasn’t using the right products and my styles weren’t lasting longer than one day.

Now four years later I’ve finally created the proper regimen for in order to achieve long lasting results.

I also learned that the best types of products for women with 4a/4b hair like mine are cream and gel based products. They give the best hold and curl definition. One of the biggest struggles that I hope to tackle next washday is cutting down on dry time. I plan on investing in a hooded dryer so that I am not stuck at home praying my hair is dry by the morning. The heat from a hooded dryer also helps set your hair by better giving you the maximum hold.

Naturalistas, share your braid and twist out stories. How long have you been able to make your styles last?

-Jasmine Phillips