It’s been some years since I have had braids in my hair, so when I decided to use braids as my method of transition, I was excited. I always saw the glamorous Instagram posts of women rocking their box braids or feed in braids, not to mention it is one of the easiest and quickest ways to transition to your natural hair.
The Hair Store
Walking into the hair store and seeing all of the various packs and kinds of hair was certainly an intimidating experience. Each store carried something different. The stylist that was braiding my hair advised me to get 100% kanekalon hair, which I learned during the braiding that you loose half of the pack.
I knew I wanted to put a color in my braids. In addition to my off black (1B) hair color, I wanted something that would really bring out my skin tone and a color that would really pop for the spring. I decided on auburn, which is similar to a shiny copper and really complimented my skin.
I had an appointment set for 9 a.m. While I knew braiding was a lengthy process, I was not expecting it to last as long as it did. I had a steady stylist for six years, who unfortunately got hurt and could no longer do hair, so this time I was visiting a new stylist. Walking inside and being greeted by the peach-colored walls and natural light shining through the gigantic glass window was comforting.
I brought my Carol’s Daughter hair products for the wash and dry, but ended up not using them. Turns out, not all products made by us are actually for us – I’ll be writing a blog post on hair products as well so keep your eyes peeled for that.
After my wash and set, I snuggled comfortably into the leather chair with a good book. My stylist told me that she had another client coming at 4 p.m., and I was scheduled to be at work at 6 p.m. so I figured things wouldn’t last that long. Boy was I wrong.
The Rubber Bands
My stylist used the rubber band method to start my braids. Even though I hadn’t had my hair braided since middle school, this method was foreign to me. But I figured, Hey, she knows the best way to go about things, right? The rubber band method is when the stylist sections your hair off into triangles and/or boxes, and puts the portion of your natural hair to be intertwined with the braids in a rubber band.
I personally did not like this method. The tightness of the rubber band caused a lot of tension on my head, and though I asked her to loosen it as much as possible and she did, it was ultimately an extremely painful and time consuming process. I would say that the rubber bands took an hour alone, including the periodic breaks my stylist would take.
After the rubber bands, my stylist started to braid. It was then, as she started separating the hair and brushing it, that I learned that you loose half the pack when using kanekalon hair. I got jumbo box braids, which I also learned that using an additional color can add to the weight of the braid.
I didn’t leave the hair salon until 7 p.m.
When going to get my hair done, I always try to prep for extra time needed. However, nothing really prepared me for this particular experience. As I mentioned earlier, the periodic breaks ate up a lot of time – and they weren’t rest breaks either. They were her consistently checking her phone, speaking to other clients, purchasing from vendors who came into the store. At around 2 p.m. I asked if we would be finished by 4, because I had to be at work at 6. She said yes. At around 4 p.m., we ran out of hair and I had to leave the salon and buy more. When I returned, the stylist had stepped out to purchase food. At 5 p.m., I only had about six braids in my hair, and it became clear that I was not going to be able to make it to work, which resulted in me calling out.
I don’t mind periodic rest breaks, especially when it comes to braids, but I felt like the behavior was certainly unprofessional.
Aware that I was frustrated and annoyed, my stylist did her best to finish quickly, which in turn ended up being a rushed job. The ends were not finished, and she burned the braids in a rush to complete the job and get me out of the salon. While I appreciated the fact that she was aware of her misconduct, it did little to pacify me.
All Tied Up
All in all, my braiding experience was one of a kind. I certainly learned a lot about synthetic hair, my natural hair, and the journey that is transitioning. While my experience with my stylist wasn’t the best, I still enjoyed the hairstyle and made the best with what I had.
The weight of the braids was overwhelming at first – I could barely lift my head. My first thought was How am I going to get home on the train?, however I made it. Sleeping was really difficult as my head was extremely sore, about after three days, the soreness went away and I was able to better adjust.
This experience also inspired another blog post, on what to look for when finding a new hairstylist. I’m certainly excited to share my experiences, so make sure you’re subscribed so you can read it as soon as I post it.
As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next steps in my journey! Comment below some of your favorite braiding styles!