By Tia of Angel’s Ringlets
Late night workouts. The 9:00pm co-wash. After hours skinny dip (I have yet to try–but it’s still on my list). Whatever the reason is, at some point, we’ve all had to deal with a damp/wet braidout in the morning. For me, I leave the gym at 9:30pm sometimes (why is this the only time out of the day that I can squeeze in time to take care of myself)?
So I jump in the shower by 10–10:15pm, and co-wash or just rinse my hair with water. Detangle as needed.
Steps that I take in order to avoid having a wet or damp braidout in the morning:
Before I begin braiding, I leave my “naked hair” (no product whatsoever) open to air dry. Air drying will happen quicker if there isn’t any product on the hair to seal the water in. That’s why methods such as the LOC (Water or Water Based Leave-in, Oil, Creamy Conditioner or Butter–method of product application) work so effectively. They truly keep the hair moist. Well, that’s not what we’re trying to do at this point. We are trying to reach from point “A” (Wet Hair), to Point “B” (Dry Braidout in the Morning). For those of you who are not wanting to air dry your hair loose, section off approximately 5 or 6 portions of hair and loosely band the roots and maybe the ends. This will slow down the air dry portion of this process, but in time you will come to trust that coily hair will NOT KNOT up while drying loose.
I like to air dry while I’m getting dressed for bed. I don’t really have too much time to air dry, so I’d say that I probably air dry for about 10 minutes. Next up, I start with a section of hair and take a soft t‑shirt and blot my hair from roots to ends. Holding the t shirt on the more “wet” portions of hair for about a minute. This will sop up excess water that didn’t air dry.
So now I have “naked”, damp hair. No dripping at this point. All of the excess water should be gone. It is important to do small sized braids (but since it’s late, we don’t have time for all of that). I usually make sure to do approximately 9 plaits. If I do big, chunky plaits, then the hair will probably not dry overnight. The smaller the plaits, the quicker they will dry overnight.
I use MINIMAL products when I plait my hair for a braidout late at night. The more products used, the less likely the hair will get to dry overnight. Thicker products tend to seal in moisture. Again, that’s not what we’re going for. We need this to dry in the morning. I usually rely on the water to set my hair, and I may add a mid-light oil (like olive oil) to my hair after it was air dried and t‑shirt dried. THAT’S IT. No butters, or anything thick–or the hair will not dry overnight.
Once my hair has been plait, I keep the plaits open and loose. No bonnets, no scarves. If I want to lay down my edges with a scarf, I tie the scarf only on the edges. I do not pin up my plaits. I don’t tie them back either. If I pull the plaits together, then the hair will not dry overnight. They will keep each other wet if they’re bunched together.
In the morning, if I feel a bit of dampness (which may or may not happen due to the weather being chilly), I will take out my blow dryer, and blow dry (on medium setting) from the root of the plait down to the mid shaft. The root is mostly where the dampness is found (if any). Doing this to 9 plaits takes me about 5–10 minutes.
Once I take down the braidout, I assess if any additional blow drying is needed. The video below shows exactly how I (sometimes) add the finishing touches to my resulting braidout. This process ensures a frizz resistant braidout that will do minimal “rising”. This braidout will keep definition and will hang lower than a braidout that did not have an opportunity to dry fully.
HOW DO YOU GET YOUR LATE NIGHT PLAITS TO DRY FOR A MORNING BRAIDOUT?
Please Note: A major factor in the drying process is the hair’s POROSITY. Low porosity hair usually has a problem drying in a timely manner. Moisture is difficult to impart into the hair shaft, and once it is–it takes a long time to dry. High porosity dries up really quick–a different kind of problem. Adjust your hair routine and products based on your hair’s needs.
Tia writes for Angel’s Ringlets, a natural hair blog that experiments with 3 different curl patterns, and shares findings. The ultimate goal is mastering any hair-type and eliminating the guess work.