Protective hairstyles and braids are fun, low maintenance, and versatile ways to wear your hair. Although they sometimes cause funny and relatable problems like those listed by Allure Magazine, there are certain things that you should never, ever tolerate. One of these is having your braids too tight, as it causes a myriad of issues that can go from mildly uncomfortable to clinically alarming. Tight braids tend to last longer for the money you spend on getting them, but at what cost? Whether you’re looking to get some box braids, kinky twists, or any other protective style that requires your hair to get braided, here are five reasons why you should never tie your braids too tight.
Tight braids hurt
If your scalp or head is in pain, that’s a sure sign that your hair is braided too tightly or you have too much extension hair added, making the roots of your hair carry extra weight. Remember that any pain is a sign that something is wrong. Although some braiders and hair experts will tell you to simply take an aspirin, this doesn’t actually solve the problem of whatever is causing that pain.
It damages your hair
The point of protective hairstyles is to protect the ends of your hair and decrease tangling, shedding, and breakage. Having braids that are too tight defeats this purpose and is counterproductive, making your hair susceptible to moderate and serious breakage. To care for braided hair better, Bustle recommends ensuring that your scalp is regularly cleaned and moisturized with shea butter. Consider using a stocking cap to shampoo your hair without disturbing the braids.
It can be a migraine trigger.
Another detrimental effect of having your hair braided too tight is that it can trigger migraines. In their feature on this all-too-common illness, Patient.info explains that migraine triggers can range from the dietary to the environmental. These include exposure to bright lights and loud noise, having irregular meals, stress, and yes – excessively tight braids. What’s worse, these triggers can also compound and make migraines even more insufferable, with headaches lasting for days at a time.
Braid bumps or infected follicles can occur
If you’ve ever had your hair braided too tight before, you may have noticed some braid bumps at the top of your neck towards your hairline or in between braids. These are usually signs of folliculitis, or an inflammation of the hair follicle commonly caused by bacterial infections. While letting your hair rest and putting on some tea tree oil can make these braid bumps go away, other, more sinister complications can arise if the tightness isn’t addressed properly. One case documented by researchers at the University of Washington describes a case of extreme scalp loss following tight spiral braiding. Although the level of damage and wounds seen in this example isn’t common, it demonstrates the unrecognized dangers of too much tension on the scalp.
It might cause temporary or permanent hair loss.
Very tight braids can also cause traction alopecia, or hair loss resulting from too much tension on the scalp. As explained in a previous post here on Treasured Locks, if your scalp feels like it’s being pricked by a hundred nails, then your stylist applied too much pressure on your hair.
When it comes to braiding your hair into a protective hairstyle, comfort and safety should never be sacrificed. Be sure to choose a stylist you can trust, and do not be afraid to speak up when you think they’re making it too tight.