The kiss of death..
I went through it and currently am still healing from it. I will help you with avoiding these issues.
Once upon a time, when I didn't massage my hand and soak them. I felt nothing in my hands after hours upon hours of braiding. I would say for for almost 4 years, my hands will hardly feel tired, ache or even develop a small finger cramp. I felt like a beast, never had to have a hand massage, why bother I was doing fine.
Then one day I noticed I started having mini finger cramps and some soreness after braiding. My right index finger started feeling stiff and I would wake up and feel like my hand muscles were tight. Then in early 2019, my joints starting aching, I was having trouble opening bottles, my thumb was sore. It all started going down hill. After a hand clinic session thinking I had arthritis and that I would have bent ugly fingers because of braiding. I was told I still had pretty good hand strength, but I had over used my hand muscles to a point where they just needed a break. My joints were inflamed and tired of being strained attempting to do hour upon hour of braiding. Plus my fingers are more flexible than the average persons.
Along with my hands went my body but that is another story. Dealing with chronic fatigue and mixing braiding is no joke. But for the average person here are some steps to help you have longevity in the braiding game.
1. Always get a hand massage at least every 2 weeks for 30minutes at least with oil. Make sure if you do go to a mall massage business. Thats they are not rough with your hand and apply strong pressure. I learned this the hard way and they messed my left thumb up and it gave me trouble for a whole year. Take a magnesium before you go get your massage to help relax your body. even soak your hands in warmest water you can handle before this. My muscles were too tight and when I got it done.
2. Soak your hand in the warmest water your can handle, make sure to add in some epsom salt. You do this after each braiding session or at least the next day.
3. You can use coconut oil and eucalyptus oil to not only massage your hands but also your forearms.
4. Learn some hand stretches exercises that are simple and quick. Do this before your session to help warm up your muscles for the work that will be done. And do this after your hands are soaked to.
5. Supplement with Magnesium, minerals and collagen to keep your bones and muscles keep strong and helps them recover quicker.
6. You can even use anti-flam cream after your braiding session, if you do not have the time to soak.
I always braided every other day, so that I had the next day to recover.
But remember, everybody's body is different. So people can braid for 20 years and have very minimal aches and pains. Some people have an end date and can only braid for a period of time until its best to stop and do something else. Im currently in that position right now. Stopping and starting is no longer helping my hands out.
As a braider you will know when your time is up and whether you can go on for a longer period of time. I want to make sure you are informed about what braiding is and how it can affect your body. There are many articles out there for Hairdressers but nothing for braiders.
Treat your body with care and love and it will work for you and not against you. Massage therapists, physios etc have their own team of people behind them that they work with to keep their bodys in top form. Your body wasn't made to do repetitive movements for such long periods of time. My massage therapist told me "When are you going stop this? (with a French accent). your more prone to arthritis when you do what your doing she told me. I told her I will figure out a way. I currently on a very long break.
Hopefully this blog helps you
Take care :)
Ladies and gentleman..
If you want to have longevity in the braiding game. Please correct your posture and stance whilst braiding.
if you continue hunching over every time you do braiding for those long hours your doing braids. You will literally give your own self, back and shoulder problems.
Braiding professionally, meaning your doing this and charging for your service on a more than occasional basis. You take pride in your work and strive to stay ahead of the game by reading my articles :) and watching for trends. Braiders who do their aunties braids once a month should should still keep reading.
If your sitting while braiding, make sure the chair you and your client is sitting on had great cushioning, is sturdy and is in the correct height placement so your level with your clients head. Make sure to sit with your back straight, use a pillow behind your back to help and always keep mindful of when your shoulders begin to curve down. Widen your legs, so your pelvis is supported. Plant your feet down on the floor and get to work. Adjust yourself from time to time. But as long as you can keep that stance, you will be better off.
Now with standing, its even more important. Because the weight of your body will affect your knees and feet also. So proper posture is golden. Stand with your legs a bit wider apart than your hips, shoulders back, hands should stay in line with your belly button. Meaning if the braids are supper long, you step back so the braids are always level with your belly button and you never hunch over. You should never bend your back and be parallel with the floor, you throw your bodys alignment off and add pressure to your front toes and your knees, So now your body is working harder not smarter.
Make sure to buy a thick mat at Bunnings or mitre 10, made out of rubber or material that is firm but with some give. Wear comfortable shoes, put insoles in your sneakers if you have to. Make sure you care for your bodys posture. You only have one body and believe me when I tell you, its not if your going to start having aches and pains, its when.
Can you spot the difference???
When you braid, every single braid you do should look the same in size, length and tension. When you practice braiding, sizing each braid and learning to do so is highly important.
I always say to trim the braids. I do this because I know the difference. You are supposed to trim the spiky bits off the braids after you've completed the clients style. A-lot of braiders don't do this because it adds extra time to the booking. But as the picture above shows with the red braids. Your braids will look so much better if you do it, plus they will age better.
If you want to go the extra mile, then snip off the very ends of the braids, don't leave them looking scraggly. The picture on the right will help you see that difference. If you want to be the best you can be at braiding, you go the extra mile while the others don't. This will propel you straight ahead and your clientele will appreciate this and keep coming back. This is from experience :)
This screenshot was taken from my instagram stories. Its something a-lot of people don't realise until that faithfull day. "Wait a minute, why did this girls braids take soo long and I just did someones else braids, same size and length and it took away less time". Its because the persons head you did was very big. Just like different feet sizes, there are different head sizes in adults. My own mother can wear children sized crochet hats, while I can't because I have an average sized head. But I do have very small ears, tiny wrists and ankles.
When it comes to head size, you will never know until they sit down infront of you. You will realise that they need an extra row and also an extra braid on either size. If their hair is thick, well sis good luck!. Means more time and more thought into making sure you dont use too much braiding hair on their head, which will make their braids very heavy. Braiding is an art and skill, its very particular and bespoke for every individuals head size, hair texture etc etc.
Now! the only way to know if their head size is bigger or not, is to get them to take a measuring tape and tell you the circumference of their head before they come into your booking. That is the only way to know. Its also up to you if you want to charge extra for this. I never charged extra, I just bucked down, cried inside and did my job. That was my choice. But you can choose to charge an extra $30-$50 to your job depending on the size of the braids and length etc. Totally up to you!.
f you have really good skills, then that helps because people will know the braids will come out bomb, so they wouldn't mind (if they know beforehand) parting with a bit more $$.
Take care :)
Sad picture huh?..but this happens everyday in New Zealand. Right off the bat you can see what is wrong. The sizing is off, they weren't able to hide the clients natural hair into the braid. So of course it will stick out. The sections are not correct for a size small. Inconsistent braid size. Bigger sections in the back of the head is a trick braiders do to speed up the process. It has to be done within reason and also within reason of the person hair texture and thickness. But when done larger than it should be, then it becomes an issue, especially when you want your braids half up and down. Plus you will never know what they did because most people dont ask to look at the back of their head when they are getting their braids done.
When you haven't done your homework, which I have included in my other blogs on exactly how to find the best braider for you. You risk losing your money going to any random person without proper skills.
How do I choose the right braider? what do I need to know?
Well well little beauty, let me give you some facts. The braiding industry here in New Zealand is unregulated, which means there isn't licenses or a form of certification needed to be qualified as a braider. Which basically means its a free for all. Now overseas in the United States, some states need licenses some dont. But people there are more aware of good braiders because its part of the history and peoples daily lives there.
There are things that people can get away with here in New Zealand, because you simply have not taken the time to do enough research. So some braiders can prey on your lack of knowledge and pull the wool over your eyes. I have heard it time and time again, "I spent $%^&#$ and the braids starting falling out the next day.
Now you would not be able to do this in the States and get away with it, as you can sue over there. Plus there is so much competition that you have to be really good at what you do to make it. I have found that people here in NZ can get away with murder and clients never report or do anything but lose their money.
This is for people who want to spend good money and get their braids done right. This information will not work for everyones situation, as there might just be 1 braider in your town or your auntie or sister wants to learn braids on your head. But this will definitely open your eyes as to what to look for. So if you do have the extra time or the affordability to travel and get the best you can get..then I have done my job.
**4 Things to look for in a braider:
1.Have you seen their body of work? have you looked at braiders on instagram and seen what they do, looked at their sections, looked at the evenness of each braid, looked at the finish. Has your braider sent you photos that are dark or hard to see?. Has the braider shown you up close photos? lifted up the braids to show you sectioning in the back?. If they havent, make sure they do.. Make sure you are well studied on what professional braids looks like if you are going to spend a few hundred getting them. Dont just walk into a salon and expect to magically get the braids of your dreams. My eyes are trained like a hawk, I can look at a photo, view how the braider started then braid, the positioning, sizing, finish and know if they are good or not. Its like buying a new phone, usually a person would research the hell out of that phone and then buy it. Well at least that's me. So same thing has to be done in the braiding and hairdressing world.
2.What does their hair look like? are they wearing a lopsided wig, have they lost their edges, what does their natural hair look like, is it well cared for? do they have braids themselves, what do the braids look like. If your braiders hair looks reasonably well taken care of, then at least they may be able to give you some tips on hair care. Braiding is not only about just installing braids. Its about knowing hair care tips yourself. Being well versed on every hair type. Knowing how to give tips on natural solutions to certain problems that could help a client. That includes dry scalps, dry hair, breakage and the list goes on. Maybe that one solution works for your client and she praises you with another visit. Do more and get more in return.
3.Have you asked your braider for before and after hair care and braids care routines? did they go blank? did they tell you you dont need to worry and dont have to wash your hair (wrong), did they tell you how to sleep with your braids? how to style your braids for the first 2 weeks, or how long it takes the braids to dry after you've washed it? did they instruct you on how to prevent itching? do they even know how to prevent itching?. I would suggest asking your braider these questions before you do a session, so at least you know if they dont have a clue. Then you would have to do your part and research and get that information. As not knowing how to take care of your braids and what not to do, will affect the look of your braids for the worse.
4.Does your braider know about soaking and washing the braiding hair? do they say "thats not necessary", do they try to change subject? did you do your research to learn how to soak and care for the braids before install?. It is very important to wash your synthetic braiding hair, most salons won't have the time to do this. So then please do this for yourself and hand the synthetic braids over to them. As if you dont do this vital step, you risk getting an itchy scalp and even having to remove them if it gets worse. Remember the braids are not hypo-allergenic, they are plastic and chemicals are used to turn them into what feels almost like hair. So you have to do your part to get them washed, this goes for most braiding styles, not all.
Alright guys! hopefully this blog sheds some light on what you dont know and what you do know. The more you know the better your experience will be, when you do get your hair braided.
Pre-stretched or I call them beginner braids, are braids that have already been prepped for you. Whats braids prep??? you really do need to watch my videos.
Its basically the steps that needs to be undertaken before you start braiding, other than soaking and washing your braids before use. We will talk about that later. You need to cut it according to the length of braids you want to install. That is a whole lesson my beauties!.. in the mean time, you can always get a tutoring session with me to find out.
Once cut into seperate hair bundles, you will have to feather, pull or stretch them by hand, with a brush. This is all to get tapered ends, so you dont have to burn the ends or rubber band them. burning ends is what braiders of the past did. Burnt ends are mostly used for bob braids. Rubber banded ends are in style now for braiding styles that are good for special occasions, parties and events. But for long term use, you want tapered ends.
I currently have pre-stertched braids available in select colors and quantities. this is why I offer videos and also I offer to prep the braids for you.
But yes, now you know what pre-stretched or beginner braids are, and why they look different from the others. They are purely made to speed past the physical hair prepping part, but you still should soak and wash you braids though. Once that's done, all you do is install.
As you know I will be offering braids tutoring sessions for aspiring braiders who want to refine and improve on their braiding game. It's for those who have some experience, so currently not for those who have never braided in their life. So you must have done some box braiding or cornrows etc.
My main focus right now is on raising the skill levels of those who are interested in doing so. I am able to offer a fair price per hour that most can afford or at least put money aside for.
If you are one of those with absolutely no braiding experience. Please do not feel disheartened. I need you to start braiding now. Please view my braids videos first. Learn how to prep and stretch the braiding hair. This is such an important part of the process. Once you learn how to prep the hair and even mix, by purchasing a few packs from my website. You will be ready to start watching a few youtube videos.
Find a person you like and start by braiding a few braids on a friends head or buy your own doll head, which is a better idea. Because if you practice once a day for 5 minutes by just installing maybe 3 braids a day. In 2 months time, you would have had some experience. Then you could book in with me to improve. You get me :)
Get motivated, show some initiative . This is the type of person im looking for. Until the time comes when I teach beginners from scratch. I feel the most I can ask of you is to start from somewhere. Thank you*