During the colder months, it’s time to finally break out those protective styles you’ve been adding to your Pinterest board all year long and put them to work. Whether you’re opting for waist-length box braids or intricate feed-ins, the options are endless (and spoiler alert, they’re all cute).
If you’ve ever gotten a protective style with added hair only to have your scalp itch and for small red bumps or pimples to appear a few hours later, you’re not alone. This is a common reaction to braiding hair (especially hair purchased at the beauty supply store) and is a sign that you might be allergic to synthetic hair. Most braiding hair is coated with an alkaline base that can trigger a reaction in many people. But don’t despair, it can be avoided by pre-treating the hair with a simple solution: apple cider vinegar.
Here’s how it works: ACV lifts the alkaline base from the hair and once dry, it can be installed without causing irritation to the scalp and hairline. The process is simple and can be the difference between struggling through the next five weeks of a protective style and flourishing from one look to the next. To do this, all you need is apple cider vinegar (any brand and type will do), hot water and a large bowl or bucket.
How to Fix Itchy Braids
STEP #1: Start by filling a bowl with hot water and apple cider vinegar. The ratio should be one part apple cider vinegar to three parts hot water, and there should be enough to completely cover one or two packs of hair.
STEP #2: Without separating the hair (don’t remove the rubber bands or try to comb it out), submerge it in the mixture and wait 15 minutes. After a few minutes, the alkaline base will lift from the hair and form a white film on the top of the water.
STEP #3: Remove the hair from the mixture and allow it to air dry. Don’t worry about the smell, it’ll evaporate once the hair is dry.
STEP #4: Install and style the hair as normal. You’re done!
Already installed your hair? Don’t worry — add some ACV and water to a spray bottle and spritz the mixture all over your head; it should give you some relief. Still need help? Watch this tutorial by beauty guru MIIX MII to see it in action:
If you can’t wait for your hair to air dry or just don’t want to do it yourself, you can buy pre-treated braiding hair or opt for human hair (although it is much more expensive).