Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Black Girl Here: Braids for Days

(From left to right) A before and after of my first time getting braids. Since then, I’ve learned how to prepare my hair for braids and maintain them. Photo courtesy of Marian Redd.

As a black girl, we’ve got braids for days. Our long luscious braids hold a history that goes back many years. 

During slavery, many African Americans wore braids so they could work without their hair getting in their faces. Braid patterns could determine someone’s wealth, marital status, ethnicity and more. 

With this, they were also forced to shave their heads. It was meant to be a way of stripping their pride. But that didn’t stop them from getting their pride back. During enslavement, slaves used cornrows to weave pathways, like maps that showed them the way to freedom. When they escaped, they braided rice and seeds into their hair to keep them nourished over time. 

Today, many black women are discriminated against because of their hair. It might be seen as unprofessional or messy. With this, black women of every generation continue to fight back in justifying their beauty. 

I got braids for the first time when I was eight years old, and it was torture. The harsh gripping and pulling was something I had never experienced before. Normally when getting braids, you prepare your hair by washing, detangling and blow drying. 

When I got braids for the first time, I skipped some steps – specifically, blow drying and detangling. This made it harder for the braider, which was why she resorted to very harsh pulling. It felt like my head and scalp were on fire. But, when I got older, I learned how to prepare my hair for braids. 

Hairstylist Jailyn Sawyer is a braider who works in a Liliha salon called Yaya’s and Pop Pop’s Beauty Paradise. Sawyer talks about how to prepare your hair before getting braids and how to make them last longer. 

“Depending on the stylist, you should come with your hair washed and blow-dried,” she said. “If wash and blow dry is included, detangling before your appointment is always appreciated. It saves the client discomfort and time.” 

To prepare my hair for braids, I shampoo and condition with shea moisture. When shampooing, I mainly focus on my scalp, using my fingertips to spread the shampoo through my hair thoroughly. Then, I part my hair into two sections and apply the conditioner. Once the conditioner is spread evenly throughout my hair, I begin combing from the ends to the roots. 

When I get out of the shower, I use a shea moisture hair mask as a deep conditioning treatment. I put it on my hair, then apply heat using a heated cap

I proceed to wash the treatment out after 15 to 20 minutes and start blow drying. When blow drying, I part my hair and then apply a heat protectant to each section. I like to use the Fantasia Heat Protector.

When arriving at the salon you may be required to provide the hair. I recommend getting pre-stretched hair on Amazon. It’s very affordable. 

Another thing Sawyer talked about was how to make your braids last. 

Infographic By Malaika Ssebayiteko.

“I would say braids last anywhere from four to eight weeks, depending on size and style,” she said. “It could be shorter, if someone is doing large sizes, and longer, if the braids are smaller.” 

At night, she recommends wrapping your hair. 

“Wearing a scarf and bonnet together is great when a girly has knotless braids,” Sawyer said. “I also recommend using mousse/foam to help keep the flyaways down. Edge control also freshens up the look.”

She recommended using the Magic Fingers Setting Mousse and Vigorol Olive Oil Mousse. I also recommend ORS Olive Oil Hair Mousse, which is very affordable at Walmart. You can also find some good silk scarves and bonnets at Walmart, as well as some edge control. 

Also, oiling your scalp is very important when having braids. I recommend doing it every day. Using argan and jojoba oil is very beneficial and promotes growth.

Something I asked all my interviewees is if they had a powerful black woman to help guide them and be confident in their natural hair. 

“Growing up, my mother always took me to the salon and allowed me to express myself. I also had cousins, aunties and family friends that knew how to do hair. I feel like they empowered me to be confident in any hairstyle. No matter if it was my natural hair or a weave,” Sawyer said. 

For the black girls who struggle with their hair, she says, “Do it all or whatever makes you the most comfortable. No one has to wear your hair but you.” 

From slavery to today, black women have always been confident in their hair. These times will pave the way for future generations of young black girls to come. Although our hair isn’t easy to maintain, the final product is always mesmerizing. So, to all my black girls reading this, show off your braids, rock them for days and be confident in yourself. 


About the Contributor
Malaika Ssebayiteko
Malaika Ssebayiteko is a senior at Sacred Hearts Academy and hopes to pursue screen acting with a minor in broadcast Journalism in college. In this class, Malaika hopes to learn how to spread news accurately to help assist others. Malaika would like to be remembered as the girl who persevered and achieved her goals. Fun fact is that she loves cats and has one of her own. 
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  • VivianFeb 7, 2024 at 10:48 am

    As a black woman with two black daughters, I can relate to this article. I will have my two daughters read this. You rock

    • Malaika SsebayitekoFeb 8, 2024 at 9:02 am

      Thank you so much!

  • Ka’iuNov 9, 2023 at 11:19 am

    I liked reading about your experience, even if I would never get braids personally. I also enjoyed learning how to properly prep for braids.

  • Zaneya CairesNov 9, 2023 at 11:05 am

    Real, honest, informative.