I am so happy I
forced myself was able to keep these in for 6 weeks. It was a nice break from my hair. Other than being bored with them at this point, I was starting to get a significant amount of new growth (see below), which I did not want to get out of hand. I've heard of people's new growth and shed hair starting to coil on itself and causing a terrible mess once it was time to take them down. Def didn't want that to happen either. I think four weeks is my limit. That was about the point when I was over this style. So let's get to the how to's of taking out this style without damaging your hair and/or ruining all the progress that was made.
Only cut the ends off to around two inches longer than the length of your actual hair. I had already cut these braids once because initially they were hip length. So, this time I knew I had to be a lot more careful with the scissors. In an effort to ease the process, numerous ladies make the mistake of cutting too much hair off the ends of this kind of style, and unfortunately, end up cutting their own hair as well. I made sure I avoided this by going down the braid the length of my hair and then adding a couple inches before cutting. It's much better to be safe than sorry, in my opinion.
Use some oil, generously. I sprayed my hair with a very generous amount of an oil mix before I began taking them down. I also put some oil on my hands. The use of oil helps reduce friction both between your strands of hair and between your hands and your hair. It also helps to ease the removal of shed hair. Everything just glides right out.
Actually unbraid the hair, don't try to comb out the braids. That may seem simplistic, but I think it's worth stating. I just went in reverse to unbraid the hair. When I was watching YouTube trying to learn how to box braid, one girl said "think of braiding as going down stairs and unbraiding as going back up the stairs". I thought that was a great analogy. I witnessed the ladies at the braiding salon taking down these styles by simply combing them with a small tooth comb. EEEKK!! One of my friends told me that she went to a salon to have hers taken out and that's exactly what they did. She lost so much hair as a result. Of course, using a rat tail comb by sticking its tail in the braid to help unravel it, like you would do with your fingers is helpful, too. I did that at times.
Finish removing shed hair & detangle. I used more oil for this step! I think this is an important step, even more now that I've gone thru the whole process. Excess shed hair can and WILL become a tangled mess once you add water. I did not do as thorough of a job with this step as I thought I had. And sure enough it became obvious that I had not done the best possible job after I washed my hair. Sigh. So, oil your hair and hands some more, if needed, and take your time finger detangling and removing built up shed hair from your protective style. It will be worth it in the end.
That's all I did and the braid out once I was done was awesome. I loved it and yes, I actually got to wear this one out. It was so big and defined. I have to figure out how to replicate these results without having to have box braids in first. I think most, if not all, of these steps work well whether you have box braids, kinky twists, or just cornrows. Taking care when you remove your protective style is just as important in your style's success as making sure the style is done correctly and maintaining your hair's health throughout the duration of the style. If not, your protective style may no longer be protective for your hair.