1. Not braiding tight enough

I’ve harped on this point many times already. This is by far the biggest mistake made when putting in mini braids. See my article on proper braiding technique. Tight braiding is important for a number of reasons- especially frizz prevention. The length of the braid should be tight while the root should have no tension on it. Tight braids will be stiff to the touch and very skinny in size.

2. Making braids too large

Mini braids are mini for a reason. Small braids make it easier for hair to be styled and treated like loose hair. I guarantee you will be less bored with your braids, the smaller they are because the versatility increases exponentially as the size decreases. Smaller braids are able to catch shorter hair and due to this- they take longer the get frizzy. Smaller braids are also less likely to unravel- adding to the lifespan of your mini braids.

3. Making braids too small

Depending on your hair density you may run into this problem unintentionally. Once you get started, the parts may be a good size but your braids could be minier than you thought (Scrubs fans know what I’m talking about). The braids themselves should be small but not so small that you cannot locate the three strands that make up the braids. If your mini braids are too small, you will run into a lot of trouble when it comes time to take them out. Determine the size of your parts by the size of the braid the hair makes, not the other way around. Those with low density hair might have parts with a large surface area, but the braids themselves are thin. High density mini braiders will have parts with a low square area and still get big fat braids. Find the right size for your hair.

4. Not being gentle during maintenance

You have to treat your mini braided hair exactly as you would treat your loose hair…but gentler. Think of mini braids as little pipe cleaners. The fuzz leans in one direction. Smoothing in that direction makes the pipe cleaner feel sleek and look neat, roughing it up by running your hands over it in the opposite direction feels rougher and makes them look less neat. Your hair is the same way. Don’t rough them up. Also, be careful not to pull them too hard by the root. It’s a good idea to spray the roots with water before you try to change the direction the braid falls in. Tension at the root can break the strand or cause it to shed prematurely.

5. Not touching them up when necessary

Let’s be real here- no hair style can last 4-8 weeks and look as nice on day 60 as it did on day 1. If you intend to keep your mini braids in for extended periods of time, plan to redo braids that get really messy. You will probably have to rebraid some unraveled ends along the way as well. Use the methods to prevent frizzing and a good night time routine religiously, but when you can’t beat the frizz and you have a lot of new growth, undo a braid and rebraid it. Rebraiding the perimeter of your head only can really make a difference in how long your braids last. If you only redo a handful of braids each day you can have the look of brand new mini braids in only a week.

For those who wear mini braids, leave a comment below and add to the list. If you are a mini braid novice who has run into other problems, let us know what those are in the comment box below!

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17 Responses to Top 5 Mistakes Made When Braiding

  1. Melissa says:

    What do you do for your ends? I leave about an inch of loose ends and twirl it with my fingers. The ends will eventually curl on its own.

    • Jay says:

      I leave my ends loose as well but I don’t twirl them. I let them do their thing and when I cowash the braids the ends form uniform spirals.

  2. Poupette says:

    Hi Jay,
    thank you for the articles. I want to use more low protective styles to grow my hair. I twist them with extension because I play with my hair so much. they do grow 2cm in 2 months. I am thinking of doing them with my own hair. My hair is short 22cm in the front and 14 in the back. do you oil your hair. Do we have to blow dry them before braiding?

    • Jay says:

      Hiya! Thanks for stopping by. I wore twists occasionally but mostly mini braids when my hair was that length. I wore a lot of updos when my hair was shorter too. I don’t normally oil my hair. I don’t really use anything on my scalp. Occasionally, I will use castor oil for growth but I’m not consistent with it.

      I don’t blow dry before braiding or twisting. I put my hair in large braids to air dry overnight. I recommend mini braiding or twisting on stretched hair, but heat is not necessary. The ebook has my full routine in it. Hope that helps!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am so excited that I came across your site!!!! Wearing braids on natural hair is a very scarce topic and finally finding someone else that does the same thing is such a good feeling!!! I am currently 6 months into my “same braids for 365 day challenge” and a lot of my methods correlate to yours! so happy to see this and to be able to share your experience and knowledge with my subscribers!!! AWESOME!!

    • Poupette says:

      OMG, 6 months? Is that wit extensions? I only keep mine for 4 weeks and that was a lot for me. It grew 1/2cm. That is not a lot. I oiled 3 times a week. I did no really wash, but ACV rinse. I find I have a lot shedding and breakage. I would like to know how you achieve the 6 months. What is your site?

      • Jay says:

        @Poupette, Braids can’t change a growth rate. Perhaps take a look at your diet and see if you can make changes to improve your body and hair from the inside out.

        Also, I would be careful with ACV. It’s a strong acid and can mess with the chemistry of our hair. If used at all, it should be very diluted. I only do a 10:1 mixture at most. There are quite a few brands that sell liquid scalp cleansers/rinses that are formulated specifically for hair. Home Health makes one and I’ve seen a few others on health store websites.

        It’s also important to keep hair well moisturized while in any protective style. Proper moisture, protein, and preventing mechanical damage will prevent breakage.

        Perhaps the anon poster will come back and share her tips with us. If you have any questions for me, just let me know. Have a happy and healthy hair journey. 🙂

        • Anonymous says:

          I don’t bother too much with the 1/2 cm, because I had a knee surgery. It might be the reason. I was trying to use the MSM that I both and put in my water bottle, maybe it dries out my braids even tough I was sealing with shea and castor oil.

    • Jay says:

      @ Anon, Please share your blog/internet info! I would love to see it. YouTuber AllisBelle wears extension braid for 4-5 months at a time. I think she had some breakage and damage her last time around though.

      I feel the same about natural hair and braids. Twists are talked about and worn often but it’s rare to see someone wearing or talking about mini braids.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting. Have a happy hair journey!

  4. ASHER says:

    soo.. exactly how long do you leave your braids in.. I plan to leave mine in for 3 months and pay close attention to make sure they are not locking. I also have a problem with gray hair coming so this will also determine how long.. I can leave them in. I found a really good plant based shampoo that turns your hair back to black when you use it.. and if I can shampoo my hair {with the braids still in, I will} but I am concerned this may encourage locking. I will have to see how things work. I will .. . Unless I just decide to wear the gray and only shampoo with the ” COLOR CHANGE SHAMPOO BY DEITY AMERICA” when I take them out and redo them. I have always loved my hair like this even many, years ago. Looking back at all the extensions and weaves and relaxing and blowing and cutting.. I should have just stuck with my mini braids..

    • Jay says:

      I’m on my phone, but I’ll post some links with my braids when I can get on a computer. The longest I’ve kept mine in is 2 months but I typically go 5 or 6 weeks before I miss my loose hair. I think 3 months is a very long time but just keep an eye out on the state if your hair. Take a few braids out to check on the condition of your hair.

      The shampoo shouldn’t be an issue. I would be concerned about the color being splotchy, but I guess it’s just the roots that need coloring and those will be loose. Make sure you follow up with a deep conditioner and moisturize and seal your hair at least every few days.

      I hope that’s helps. I’ll be back tomorrow with links so you can see weekly pictures of my mini braids. They’re under the “My Mini Braids” tab at the top of the blog, but you’ll have to go a few pages back for posts on my braids.

      • Jay says:

        Here are the links I promised-

        My Mini Braids After 5 Weeks (Sep 2013)- http://minibraidmethod.com/2013/09/my-mini-braids-final-update-week-5-sept-2013/

        My Mini Braids After 4 Weeks (Jan 2013) – http://minibraidmethod.com/2013/01/my-winter-mini-braids-update-week-4-final-update/

        My Mini Braids After 5 Weeks (Oct 2012)- http://minibraidmethod.com/2012/10/my-fall-mini-braids-final-update/

        Honestly, I cannot recommend that you keep any style in for 3 months. That’s just too long. I take my braids out at 5 weeks and my roots looks quite crazy at that point. Protective styling for a really, really, long time has not benefit…from what I can see.

        These two YouTube videos sorta show that you gain just as much as you lose when you leave a style in for months at a time…

      • ASHER says:

        Thanks.. Jay.. you have really good info, and I really appreciate it.
        so,,, I wanted to let you know, I wore my hair in micro braids for years with extension hair, for 3 months at a time, and I was never careful about removing the extensions so I had a lot of breakage! My hair was locking by then, so that of course only made it that much harder to remove. I would remove them and hurry, and put new ones in and color my hair all on the same weekend.. this was not good.. too much of a hurry and a whole lot of wear and tear. I just was not taking good care of my hair, I regret this. Where the extension meets your hair is a great place for product build up and locking to occur , so for that reason alone I expect better results. Now only braiding my hair without extensions.
        Now I plan to see how long I can go with the mini braids, using lots of chilled aloe vera juice mixed with a little oil, like coconut oil or jojoba oil for moisture to maintain, I also love to use pure aloe vera gel, especially on my ends, to restore the ph balance,this really helps to keep them smooth. I will not use any other gel or things like cantu shay butter.. {which does not mix well with Eco styler gels} these products WILL cause build up, and the other gels WILL encourage locking. I plan to shampoo and deep condition every 4 weeks, unless I notice any dryness in the meantime. I may also give my hair a drink of water from time to time.. if I should need to by standing under the shower for a minute or two.. and of course seal in the moisture with my oils and aloe.
        I will keep you posted on my progress, for now thanks again for reminding me just how much I love and missed my mini braids.. You are doing a great job with your hair it is beautiful.

        • Jay says:

          Thank you for your very kind words! Your regimen sounds great and I can’t wait to hear an update from you. I also love aloe vera juice. I keep some in a spray bottle and spritz my hair from time to time. It’s a very inexpensive leave in with tons of nutrients and you won’t get that buildup that other products cause. Good luck to you and have a happy & healthy hair journey! 😀

  5. misstomiyin says:

    Hi Jay, Please I’ll appreciate if you’ll help me out on this. My edges are gone, but
    I want to braid again, box braids though, as i find it more comfortable for me. what do you advice?

    • Jay says:

      I don’t wear box braids…only braids with my own hair. My best suggestion would be that you not wear them either. The weight of box braids pulls out hair and you need your edges to be stress free so they can grow back. If you want the look of box braids with less stress on the hair, you could maybe try crocheted box braids. I personally haven’t done them, but I found a few links on youtube for you.

      Link 1- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOjoEeOsIRQ

      Link 2- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZebP_o89Nqw

      Cornrows will put less stress on the hair. For a more natural look, you could have a section of box braided leave out (just on top, not the edges)…like a U-part wig. The ladies in the video used pre-twisted and pre-loced hair, but you can find pre-braided hair at the beauty supply store or amazon.

      Other option is to leave your edges out entirely. I’m not sure how it would look with extension braids, but I sometimes leave my edges out when I wear mini braids. I will loosely twist the hair there and tuck it under the braids. It’s not noticeable at all in that case. You can experiment with different styles or headbands and see if that will work for you.

      And, if you like wigs…they also sell box braid lace wigs online that look great. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcQ4kf5LbWs

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