Lets talk, Ladies. Are you considering trying crochet for the first time? No, wait. You're a crochet enthusiast looking for more tips to extend the life of your install? Doesn't matter! you're sure to find some of the following tips helpful. If you're guilty of any of the following, its ok! We've got your back. Check out this list of the top six ways people ruin crochet braids.
1. Too much manipulation
With the exception of SOME straighter types, crochet hair does not need to be combed out. Actually, combing synthetic hair can irreversibly damage the curl pattern. This is because 99% of crochet hair is synthetic, and too much heavy pulling or stretching can stretch the curl right out of the strand. Combs and brushes also can snag in the hair, which can stretch the strands straight. Do not wrap it at night. Do.Not.com (unless you have a straight crochet). My rule of thumb is that if your stylist didn't comb the hair while installing, follow her lead and do not comb it when you get home.
You know how we love to run your fingers through our hair from scalp to tips? Yeah, don't.
Don't rake your fingers through the hair; Carefully and gently separate the pieces. Don't wear the hair in tight ponytails for prolonged periods; That could stretch the curl out of the top few inches of the hair. While detangling, don't rip and pull stray strands out; Use scissors and cut out any webbed areas of the install. So basically, don't be rough. Ion like det.
My motto for crochet is Less is More. The less raking, pulling, picking, teasing, fluffing, twirling you do... the better off your crochet is. All of these behaviors contribute to the number one crochet killer: FRICTION. If you are a nervous picker, keep in mind that you may wear your hair down faster with your HIH syndrome (hands in hair). Wake up, pick which part you'll wear that day, blend if necessary, and just forget about it. Your hair will thank you later!
2. Wasting good product on it
Remember, this is synthetic hair. It’s an acrylic fiber, not a human strand with a live cuticle. Product doesn't penetrate synthetic hair; instead it accumulates on the strands where it can attract dust or other environmental debris. Accumulated product can also easily transfer onto clothing and surfaces you come into contact with... and oh yeah... YOUR FACE.
All you really need for the actual crochet hair is oil, and that’s more for your fingers when detangling to give them some slip. So don’t let anyone tell you that any overpriced conditioner, steam, curling custard, fabric softener, holy water, or wine is gonna change the feel of your crochet hair... wait.. maybe the wine might. I've seen enough videos of women dunking their hair in a bucket of Downy, looking for it to soften their synthetic hair. Fabric softener will only coat the hair where it can be potentially absorbed by your SKIN.
The only time I EVER even use product on my crochet install is when I wash my hair. I can appreciate the scent of my favorite products to refresh my hair. The hair you DO want to use products for is your braided foundation. Find a liquid leave-in conditioner to mist your scalp daily, and follow that up with your favorite hair oil. Dont waste your money buying expensive products for no damn crochet hair.
3. Going to bed without a bonnet or scarf
ALL hair tangles; it matts. There is no way around that. Human hair will tangle, as will synthetic hair. However, synthetic hair tangles and matts more easily than human hair. Tangling is mostly caused by FRICTION from the strands rubbing against each other. Throughout the course of the day, hair also experiences friction from things like:
contact with clothing
contact with seating/chairs
environmental factors (wind/sun/rain)
Luckily, the nighttime is when you can correct this. Lightly finger detangle, twist the hair into 4-6 two-strand twists, and WEAR YO SCARF/BONNET!! The strands are less likely to rub up against each other (friction) while in twists. Most curl patterns have a ringlet, uniformed, spiral pattern which twists easily. Loose twists work best and start in the middle, twisting downward. Twirl the ends around your fingers to smooth stray strands into place. Cut out any webbed areas of the install. Do not twist too tightly or make too many small twists; allat aint necessary. With any crochet install less is more.
4. Trying to re-curl it
One of the benefits of wearing synthetic hair is its ability to hold its curl pattern for the entire duration of the style (up to 12 weeks). You will not need to curl or re-curl your hair. If you decide to attempt, know what you're getting into because it can turn into an unnecessary hair nightmare in five seconds flat.
Crochet hair now comes in a huge variety of curl patterns. You can choose your curls and not worry about re-curling for the entire duration of the install. Can hot tools curl the hair? Yes; SOME hot tools can curl SOME crochet hair. Do you really want to take the risk of burning it or ruining a perfectly good curl pattern though? Will you be able to find the right combination of temperature, technique, and timing? Unless you’re a pro, probably not. So let's just scrap the idea that you'll need to re-curl your crochet. The only exception is for yaki or Marley textured installs which will obviously require manual curling to change its original texture. For these installs, I prefer the boiling water method.
This is usually achieved by putting the hair into braids, twists, or rollers and dipping it section by section into boiling water. This method can be pretty tricky and very dangerous without experience, but it produces longer lasting curls and more uniformity. Hot tools CAN curl synthetic hair, but they will result in looser curls which drop in a few days.
My formula for curling synthetic hair is:
higher temperature + shorter processing period = tighter, more uniformed, longer lasting curls
5. Cutting it yourself
Crochet is BIG HAIR. Period. It is not uncommon to want your crochet to lay flatter...immediately, but this will occur naturally as the hair settles. Since crochet hair is usually installed in small-medium clusters, those clusters tend to sit onto of each other making the hair look fuller than it is. When you first see it, it will seem HUGE. Over the next few days, and with the help of proper maintenance, it can flatten out between 20-50% of its original volume.
Since most crochet hair is installed in small to medium size clusters of hair, it should be cut on an angle, cluster-by-cluster to create tapered ends. Using lines and guides works for human hair because you can comb and stretch the hair as you shape. Cutting pieces of your install may lead to a nightmarish, choppy, blunt, or uneven finish.
Some kinds of crochet like silky, looser textures can tolerate a thinning razor. However, hair that is manufactured & installed in thicker clusters is harder to thin out with the razor; this is especially true if it has a guard, which can snag synthetic hair. If you insist on using a razor, make sure it has been moderately used. Not so sharp that you hack a whole section of hair off in one sweep, but not so dull that it snags & stretches the strands of the hair before you even get to enjoy the style.
6. Expecting it to act like human hair
It’s not. And it won’t. Thats why you only paid about $40 for the hair instead of $400. Do not expect $40 hair to act like $400 hair. Have your crochet installed in the color you desire for your install. The process of dying hair only works for human hair. Dying hair consists of using chemicals to lift the cuticle layer of the hair and allow color to penetrate the inner strand. Synthetic hair is essentially a super thin piece of nylon or acrylic fiber. It won’t absorb color or anything else. Wetting it will not make it curl up. Deep conditioning will not 'restore' it. Heat protectant will not do a damn thing to protect it from curling tools. You cannot reuse it. Please throw it away when you take it out. Thanks.
What are your go-to maintenance tips for crochet braids?
Join the conversation and leave us a comment below about what has helped or harmed your crochet install. Thanks for stopping by!