Braid Removal: Read These 5 Time-saving Tips First

by Kristal C

We all need a break from styling our natural hair from time to time. And braid extensions is an excellent protective styling choice for many women under proper maintenance. If managed well, you can gain a good 0.5 to 1 inch of new growth in that period.

How To Braid Removal Tips
Hair growth after 7 weeks of braid extensions.

But all good things must come to an end…

Cue in the braid removal process.

However, before you allow dread to sink in across every morsel of your body, we have some excellent time saving tips to make the process not as daunting as anticipated.

Follow through and you will find yourself in a much better place than expected! Here we go…

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How To Braid Removal Tips


Do Not Keep Braids in Too Long

6-8 weeks is the recommended time frame for keeping braids in at one time.

Yes, braids is a time and money investment, but your natural hair health is an investment as well. Keeping your braids in too long can actually cross over to the damage and breakage territory.

Major matting can occur at the roots from the accumulation of dirt, lint, and uprooted shed hairs.

Do you know your head sheds anyway from 50-150 strands of hair each day? After 8 weeks, that is a possible 2800-8400 shed hairs just trapped in your braids.

How To Braid Removal Tips
Shed hair after 7 weeks of braid extensions.

With the combination product build-up at the root and that range of shed hairs, braid removal could be harder than necessary if going beyond 8 weeks. Your hair can even start locking at this point thus leading to a very time-consuming removal process.

You must ask if a little extra time of braids is actual worth it. For those who are less risky, stick with 6-8 weeks of braid wear. Your hair would be nice and ready for a break from the extension and some good TLC by then!

Cheat a Little: Clip Ends of Braids to Hasten Process

Yes ma’am. Go grab those scissors!

This is especially for long box braids. Why waste time unraveling hair that is NOT EVEN YOURS. DON’T.

(Unless you find braid removal a soothing and relaxing process. Or have time on your hand.)

For the busy ladies who need the braids out right now, it is recommended to clip the unneccesary ends of the braids up to your own natural hair.

Now, if you are going for the 2-in-1 special where you want to trim/cut your hair in the process, then do you. Clip away.

If not, definitely be mindful to inspect each braid and cut slightly below the ends of your natural hair. Doing so will literally save so much time depending on the length of your hair.

Additionally, it is much easier to unravel the thicker portion of the braid rather the teeny weeny section at the end of the braid.

Taking down braids especially when you have a good amount of them can be mentally daunting. Cheating with some clipping will definitely help with the braid removal woes. Trust us!

Prep Braids with Slip, Slip, and More Slip

With root matting and frizziness that come with the normal wear of braid extensions, your hair needs to be properly prepped before removing those braids.

Adding slip to the entire length of the braids will assist in making the removal a lot smoother…literally! Your hair is likely drier and more brittle than normal after weeks in braids. Using a product with slip and moisture will help restore some elasticity to your hair while unbraiding your hair.

There are several options you can use to add slip to your hair to ease braid removal:

  • Water
  • Leave-in conditioner or spritz
  • Rinse out conditioner (Our favorite is Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner)
  • Oils (not moisturizing but can be used in addition to any of the above)

Using any of the above products (or a combination) will help soften the hair in order to remove your braids without snagging, tugging, and pulling. These contribute to unnecessary wear and tear on your hair and can lead to breakage and damage.

This would defeat the purpose of a protective style, right?

Trader Joe's Tea Tree Conditioner
Only $3.99 at Trader Joe’s. Our go-to conditioner for YEARS!

Therefore, do not skimp on adding a slip product to your hair. Saturate literally from the root of your hair to the tip of the braid. If it takes over half a bottle of conditioner to get the job done, then do not hold back!

Adequate slip will save you more time as well in the removal.

Tip: Use the long end of a rattail comb to remove the smaller portion of the braid. Simply push the pointed end into the braid stitch closest to the tip of the extension. Pull gently downwards to separate the braided stitch and free the comb. Repeat until you can comfortable unloose the braid with your fingertips.

Use Conditioner for Linty Build-up at Roots

As you start removing braid by braid from each section of your hair, you will notice that line of buildup where your roots and braid extension met.

It’s linty, dirty, and possibly hard to gently loosen with your hands.

What works beautifully to break down this build up is some conditioner at the roots. Yes, that slip again. Do not be afraid of it. The conditioner literally melts down that build up making it easier to break apart and detangle your natural hair.

Detangle Hair BEFORE Washing

2800-8400 shed hairs AFTER eight weeks.

Do yourself a favor and proceed with a thorough detangling before washing your hair.

I know your head has been itching for that good shampoo and water across your scalp. But washing your hair with that amount of shed hairs present can lead to a much difficult detangling session a few steps later in your wash day process.

Besides, why waste product on hair that is no longer attached to your head anymore?

Take the extra time to slowly detangle your entire head from ends to roots, in 6+ smaller sections at a time. Your hair is already saturated with some type of slip product. It would be wise to use this to your advantage.

The classic Denman brush is our detangling brush of choice. It thoroughly removes tangles and shed hairs without excessive tension on the hair.

Remember: Detangle from the ends and gradually work your way up.

After detangling one section, make sure to twist that section before moving to the next. This keeps the process orderly and prevents re-tangling of that section.

Bonus Tip: Give Yourself More Time Than Anticipated

Try not to plan any activities for that day/night so you can focus on properly handling this process with TLC. If you can get help then definitely recruit help. The support can be a revitalizing aspect under the circumstance.

Binge watching TV or your favorite YouTube channel are some good incentives as well. Throw in some good snacks and cozy loungewear, too. Make the best of the situation.

A positive attitude works wonders. Every. Time. Sis.

If removing braid extensions from a young child’s hair, get them involved in the process (if old enough). This allows for some important teaching moments in natural hair care and self-care. Explain what a braid is, why it is important to detangle from tip to root, or what is the purpose of shampooing and conditioning.

Make connects, build relationships, learn and grow together.

The Wrap Up

We know that it is all fun and games for a few weeks of braids. Then the dreaded braid removal has to take place. However, just as much attention is important in the take-down to make sure you do not experience damage and breakage.

Here are the supplies needed for a successful braid removal process:

  • Slip product (water, conditioner, and/or oils) to add moisture provide slippage
  • Rattail Comb to separate braids
  • Wide-toothed Comb or Denman Brush (or equivalent) to detangle loose hair
  • Scissors to cut braids
  • Patience (and movies, tv, snacks, and maybe an extra set of hands)

We hope with these tips, you will find yourself removing your extensions with much more ease and under less time. Most importantly, you will come out from this process with hair that is not needlessly damaged from improper handling and 0.5 to 1 inch longer than 6-8 weeks ago.

Knowledge is power. Wisdom is even more powerful. Use it!

P.S. If you want to know another time saving natural hair hack we just found, check out this post on how one tool cut our hair stretching process down tremendously compared to our beloved tension method.

How To Braid Removal Tips

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Queen | The Blessed Queens May 24, 2019 - 8:47 am

Love the writeup and very detailed with photos! Braids can be an excellent style but again you need to know how to handle it!!

xo, Queen

Kristal C May 24, 2019 - 9:31 am

Thanks for stopping by Queen! I appreciate your comment. Yes, proper handling of braids is very important or else you would end up with more damaged hair. That would be devastating considering the time and money spent on braids in the first place. Protective styling is great when it works. 🙂


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