My [Traumatic] Box Braid Installation

I have had my box braids in for almost three weeks now and I intentionally waited to post about the whole experience. Why you ask? Because, initially, it was kind of traumatizing to be completely honest. I was miserable the entire first week. I felt if I wrote a post during that time it would have been way too angry and negative. Plus I'm known to have a flare for the dramatic anyway so, at this point, I'm glad I waited until now when all is well.

I went to an African Braiding Salon for the first time. A couple of my family members and a family friend have been to this particular shop in the past and while our experiences share some commonalites, they weren't really the same. Let me first start by saying I think my hair looked SO nice walking out of the shop. I'm very Poetic Justice slash Brandy in the 90s right now. As far as appearance is concerned, they did a phenomenal job. Unfortunately, that may have been one of the only things I was pleased with as far as this installation is concerned.

Because of the fact that I've gotten headaches previously just from someone else flat ironing my hair, I decided to take a few ibuprofen before they got started. That might be why I didn't realize exactly how tight they were braiding during the process. Much too tight. As soon as they were finished and began moving all the braids backward to dip them in hot water, OMG I wanted to cry. Seriously, it hurt so bad I did not even want anyone to touch me. Not only that, but they were soooo heavy I couldn't believe it. I communicated with the ladies that were doing my hair exactly what I wanted... so I thought: chunky or medium-sized box braids just slightly longer than my hair, to the middle of my back. I discussed this with them before they started and several times throughout the process, to the point of even stopping them to make sure they were not too small. I'm going to do a review of my experience in the salon itself, too. I really felt I was doing my due diligence and that we all had an understanding, only to stand up and find out how wrong I was. Le sigh. They were all the way to my butt! 

I was so confused as to how the braids appeared to be the size I wanted, but there were SO many and they were SO heavy. Aaaahh! At first, I thought maybe it would loosen up over time and I could wait it out. Wrong! By the next day, I was ready to give up. I tried using steam, sprays and oils to loosen them, but could not get enough relief. I was irritable, my head was in a constant state of throbbing, my eyebrows were stationary (lol I can laugh now) and all I could think of was my edges snapping off. Consequently, I started taking my braids out ya'll. I was so mad at myself for the way this situation was playing out. Once I took the edges out I realized why I was having such a problem - there was way too much weave in my head! 


Left: my edges (stretched), Right: amount of weave taken off my edges
Left: center of my head, Right: amount of weave taken out of it

With the combination of the extreme tension and the ridiculous amount of hair in my head, I think a set back would have been inevitable if I hadn't done something about it. I got over the facts that I had spent so much money and it looked really pretty for the sake of my own sanity and the health of my hair. I would have been so upset if my hair suffered a major set back just from this style. Especially after I've been diligent about caring for it and getting it to its current healthy state. Call me crazy if you want, I don't care. That's just not worth it to me. Do you see the amount of weave on those little sections of my hair?!?! That is never okay to me! And it shouldn't be for anybody else, honestly. There were 16 braids just on my edges and 12 braids on that very small center section. 

Once I took my edges out, I taught myself how to box braid and turned those 16 braids into about 9 the next day. Relief! However, relieving my edges made the crown of my head very jealous. It was day 3 and I still could barely touch or move my hair. My scalp was so sore it would randomly send chills through my body and make me grimace. I've never even heard of that happening before! So, I started taking out that area, too, and by the end of the week I had taken out almost the whole top of my head. My scalp was so tender I couldn't even think of putting the braids back in for a couple of days, but I still had my hair!  Ha! That was all I cared about at this point. 

I actually did end up going back to that salon before I redid the middle section. Yep, hair half done and all. Just so they could witness how bad the situation was while I described the problems I had with the way my hair was handled. That, however, is another story for another post. Here's the difference between the amount of braids in the front of my hair before and after it was redone:



Before

After I redid my edges

What do you think? Would you have tried to wait it out longer??

31 comments:

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    1. Not anymore! It definitely did in that first picture tho.

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  2. I definitely understand the soreness and tightness of the scalp. I wore micros all through high school and they were done by an African shop. They definitely do a great job but at the expense of your hairline and your sanity lol. I actually like the way you spaced out the front so good job!

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    1. Lol exactly! My braids were always done by my mom growing up so all this was completely new for me.

      Thank you Jas! *pats self on back*

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  3. That was a quite a lot of hair just for your edges. I think you did the right thing by redoing the braids. I actually like the way your edges look after they were redone more than the initial results - I agree with the comment above, I like the spacing.

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    1. Thanks Jen!! I was nervous I was going to ruin the whole style since I had never done them before, but ended up feeling the same way. :)

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  4. I remember back in the day when I used to get braids but one time mine were so tight i took them out the same night. That's ALOT of hair for just your edges ad you made the right decision.

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    1. It was SO much hair on my poor edges, I agree! LOL to you taking them out the same night. I don't blame you at all, but I don't think I even had the energy. I was just praying for some sleep and hoping relief would come in the morning.

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  5. You are brave to have kept them in as long as you did before rebraiding I would have taken them out the same night! Good thing you have learnt how to do them yourselves I would say stick to DIY from now on judging from how tender headed you are and the lack of understanding and "rough hands" on the braider's part, looking forward to your salon review.

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    1. You and Tomes would've both moved faster than me. I think I was a little torn about what to do at first, but I'm glad I'm not the only one who would've just let them go. You're right, it'll definitely be DIY for me for awhile.

      Thanks Lydz!

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  6. Melanie, you totally made the right decision! The point of a protective style is to protect your hair from damage and breakage; Not to cause it. I really like the after spacing. That's the way that your entire head should have been done from jump street. Everytime that I go to the salon I RANT about how tender-headed I am. (I'm really not...lol! I just want them to understand that extreme pulling on my hair will not be tolerated. I hope that part 2 of your story tells us about how they redid the braids free of charge to your satisfaction.

    KLP | SavingOurStrands . .

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    1. Yesss... this was the total opposite of my protective style goal! Thanks KLP! That is what I thought I was describing for my whole head. I think I may need to pick up your tender-headed rant lol since clearly my entire discussion did not do me justice. I think you'll be pleased with part 2 :)

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  7. You did the right thing by taking them out and did a great job of doing it yourself. It's not a protective style if it does more harm than good.

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  8. Being African, this is not new to me at all. In my teens and early twenties I would sometimes brave the braids. No longer. My last experience, by the time they were done I had a fever and spent a few days in bed shivering. My scalp felt like it was on fire and I wanted to die. I took all the braids out asap and swore never again. You totally did the right thing.

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    1. Oh wow, Aine! That sounds terrible. I never knew too tight braiding could cause such an adverse bodily reaction until it happened to me, but yours sounds much worse.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

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  9. I'm debating on getting braids done in a African salon for the first time. I have braids now that were done by a family friend & they are too loose. After only two weeks I'm tempted to take them out. I want braids that will last because I want to give my natural curls a break for flat irons and humidity. Any advice?

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    1. Hey - I totally understand wanting them to last longer than that. I would say if you go to the salon to get them done, make sure you have a good understanding with the stylist(s) before they start doing your hair, bring pictures and agree on the price. Then don't be afraid to speak up during the process, especially if they are braiding too tight. They can always braid less tight and you don't want to deal with the aftermath of a too tight install. The goal is to give your hair a break, not to break it off with too much tension; make sure they understand that.

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  10. oh girl!!!!!! lord this has been me the last couple of days. What a mess. I am 9mnths pregnant. So I decided to have my hair braided before going into surgery on Tuesday to have my baby. What a freaking mistake it was. My hair was braided in the Havana twist. and 7 packs of Expressions hair was used on my head (when I was told later, that it only should have been 4). I was to the point of explosion literally! In addition my blood pressure was through the roof and I can barely move due to the weight of the baby on my small frame. I was thoroughly pissed. Needless to say, I tried taking the middle out....there was some relief. But my sides were still killing me so I am up now....Just finished taking them all out! Boy O Boy...was this a come to Jesus moment for me.

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    1. OMG!! That sounds awful, especially on top of being 9 months pregnant! Nobody has time for that! It's so sad to me that these experiences are this common. I don't get the need to use so much extra hair like that smh. Glad you got some relief even though it meant removing the whole style.

      Thanks for sharing!

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  11. I wish I would've came to this site sooner. I just got my hair braided yesterday. I showed them a picture, made them start over when they were too small, and also told them not to braid my edges and my scalp still looks similar to your before picture. I'm also getting the chills that you mentioned. I'm going to try to do some relief remedies I found online, if this doesn't work they have to come down. lol

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  12. I have a question. Why do people continue to go to African braiding shops? We have all heard the horror stories, seen the evidence...so why? Why do women keep paying Africans hundreds to mistreat them? You're paying for a PROTECTIVE style. Your braids can be fresh, clean, and neat without balding you. That's simply ridiculous to have a style so tight it is sending chills up and down your spine. Please stop giving these people your money when they don't car about the health of your hair. STOP GOING TO THE AFRICANS!! YOUR BRAIDS ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE PAINFULLY OR EVEN UNCOMFORTABLY TIGHT!!! NEVER EVER EVER!!! TIGHT does not equal RIGHT.

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  13. My scalp is soooooooooo itchy and they've only been in for a week!!! Can I do a vinegar rinse to take out the product build up? Does sulphur 8 help relieve itchiness?

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  14. im thinking of doing my own braids because now im terrified but i want to try them lol. my hair is naturally fine and thin and i will not sacrifice my edges for no one or anything.

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  15. Did Ghana corn rows ...i am dying here. Actually googled how long does braids hurt and I got to your blog. I cant deal ๐Ÿ˜‚

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  16. Omg..I got regarding box braids..or semi box cause they didn't do what I asked. And my scalp hurts sooooooooo bad in the front...I'm losing my sanity

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  17. I had box braids and she came to my home to do it as I am disabled tje woman's made a right mess.! Boxes all different sizes sections not straight and my natural hair joined in a inch down the braid! Box sections that big at the bacl ots started to snap my hair after 3 days
    Im pissed. She said ahes going ro sort it but dunno if I should gety money back as she said she has 11 years experience be seems like a weeks to me.

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  18. Thanks for your blog. I really thought I was going crazy with these chills. Just got my hair braided today. I will definitely find someone to take my edges down & redo them.

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  19. dang, what a lady did to my head would give you chills. I was in excruciating pain. I think I took the whole lot out by day 4 or 5

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  20. Did my last box braids at an African braiding salon and had no problems. I suppose people only comment when they have a bad experience but we don't hear from those who have no reason to complain. It can lead to a lopsided narrative and negative untrue picture.
    As my Mum always says, "it's all in the hands"
    Some African braiders have "tight hands" others have "soft hands". Usually, I can tell the minute a braider takes hold of my hair whether I'm in for a world of pain or not.
    Also, having travelled a lot to West Africa, where hair braiding is 2nd nature, most women there will tell you the same thing "find a braider who will treat your hair right". And the vast majority of the ladies (and their mothers & grandmothers) over there have intact edges despite having had their hair braided in one style or the other through out their lives (definately far more than most of us here who only think of braiding as "protective style").
    So find a braider who will treat your hair right and if you can't, then there are alternative styles or use the situation as motivation to Lear how to braid your own hair but PLEASE let's avoid generalising about African braiders. (I am not a fan of generalisations in whatever shape or form).
    I wish you all Peace and painless hair journey.

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  21. To be honest, I'm a little over the edge. Although braids are another way to express beauty with your hair, the con sequences to it is too hard to bear. My mom is Nigerian so she forces - and I mean FORCES - me to braid my hair. I have no choice. She says I can't cut my hair because I'll look like a boy, and in my head I say that's ridiculous because my cousin's hair was cut recently and she's a girl. Anywho, as soon as they take out the extensions from the pack, I immediately break down. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. What's even worse is that they mock me in their own language (sadly, I can't speak it. Long story). Crazy, right? When I'm done, they keep complimenting me and telling me how beautiful I am (same thing goes for my mom) and I force a smile, but when I'm alone in the bathroom or in my room, I'm crying my eyes out. It's too much! But the problem is how excruciating the pain is! I can feel my veins in my head popping up and down, and what's even worse is that my edges are getting worse. Now I'm losing hair, and I want to let my hair loose for awhile, but my mom refuses. Like always.

    Well, enough about me. Thank you for your story.

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