Protect it. Love it.
Protective styling generally refers to…you guessed it…protecting your natural hair. Since afro-textured hair is actually pretty fine (for the most part) and fragile, it needs a break every now and again. Protective styles protect your ends from the elements and from drying out.
Crochet braids are my favorite go-to protective style. They are easy to do and (most importantly for braids) easy to take out. And individuals with practically any length hair can wear them. Bonus: they take less than half the time to put in than traditional box braids, micros, or Senegalese! PLUS, you can try a variety of styles with crochet.
What are crochet braids?
Crochet braids are not to be confused with tree braids, which take a little longer to put in. Basically, your hair is in cornrows, braided all the way back. If your hair is long, your ends are tacked up. There are two basic options after this process is done. 1) You may choose to crochet synthetic/human hair bulk hair through your cornrows or 2) crochet pre-braided strands (essentially can have the same effect as micros or Senegalese under this option). Using a crochet pin, which can be purchased at any beauty supply store for less than $3 (typically around $1.99), you crochet individual strands through the cornrows. The entire process should take between 3 – 5 hours. Obviously, the slower you are at braiding cornrows, the slower the entire process.
How long do crochet braids last?
Crochet braids can last anywhere from 4 – 6 weeks, depending on how quickly your hair grows. My hair grows fairly quickly so if I use pre-braided strands I will take them out after 4 weeks. However, if I use bulk hair, especially a type that is pretty close in texture and style to my natural hair, the new growth is less noticeable and I will leave it in for the full 6 weeks.
Below is the finished product using Freetress Water Wave bulk hair in colors 1B and 30. To achieve this look you will need about 2 – 3 packs of 22″ cut in half. As you can see below, my natural hair is about as wispy and curly as the synthetic.
I followed my regular shampoo and conditioning regimen when I did wash my hair, with the exception of blow drying. You can get crochet braids wet at anytime, and they dry fairly rapidly–just keep in mind that your real hair cornrowed underneath will take a little longer to dry. To speed up the process, you may use a handheld blow dryer with a diffuser to get some hot air directly to the cornrows.
Below are the braids right before I took them out:
Taking Crochet Braids Out