how to manage itchy braids


As a black woman, I feel like I am constantly learning, unlearning and relearning things about my hair. I had relaxed hair for most of my life and decided to cut my hair in January 2017 and have kept it as it grows out of my scalp since then.

I was watching a video about hair recently, probably on YouTube but it was about X-Pressions hair extensions that we use for mostly box braids and other differing braiding hairstyles. The video was about the benefits of washing hair extensions. I personally love box braids, more than weaves actually, so hair extensions used for braids play a big role in my hair and protective styling.

The hair extensions are synthetic which means that they are man-made fibres that are made to resemble our hair and they are also coated with an alkaline formula. That synthetic hair extension is then used directly on our scalps as is from its packaging and in most instances irritates the scalp which causes itching. Some of us are even allergic to synthetic fibres and the alkaline formula, so the itching is as a result of the allergic reaction. And in most instances we assume that the issue is our scalp or hair and we base our scalps in hair food to ease the itching, I have also sprayed water or hair moisturiser at times but it keeps coming back.


The suggested solution is to wash the extensions with apple cider vinegar which strips the irritant that is on the hair extensions. It is referred to as a pre-treatment for the hair extensions. You can follow the washing instructions here. The issue is also not exclusive to the X-Pressions brand, they are just the most popular ones used. I think it would be advisable to pre-treat all hair extension brands that you would use for braids. Now if you buy the hair extensions yourself, this is a doable solution but if you rely on your hair stylist to buy it for you or use the extensions that are available at the salon then it’s something that you would have to suggest to them. I would actually be willing to pay extra at the salon if they would wash the hair extensions before using them on my hair so that they are also incentivised to do it. Can you imagine having an itch-free braids experience?


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