So, here are some things to look out for…
1. A stylist who's prices are dirt cheap…ask yourself, why are they so cheap? What kind of quality will I get for that price? Have you seen their work? Do you know anyone who has used them? Remember, you get what you pay for!
2. A stylist who promises to have your braids done in less than 5 hours… Unless they are cornrows, then a full head of braids will take longer than that. You don't want them to rush and do a half job. Are they doing quality work? Are your parts even and straight? Are your braids uniform in size? A good stylist will put 100% into every braid no mater whether it is in the front of your head or hiding deep in the middle. And be prepared to invest your time in sitting because a good set of braids is going to take at minimum 8 hours. Now, you may run across a shop that has 2 or more people working on your head to cut down on time, but watch out, their techniques may be different from each other and your braids end up looking like 2 different styles.
3. A stylist who doesn't seal your braids…Meaning they either burn or dip the ends. If your braids aren't sealed, you are in for a rude awakening. They WILL unravel!!! And when they do, it is hard for the client to fix this. I find that most people won't return to their stylist to have this fixed. They just deal with it, which is not the responsibility of the client but the stylist. Whether burning or dipping your ends to seal them, also make sure the stylist dips the entire braid. It will help to relax and soften the braids, making them more manageable and comfortable.
4. A stylist who doesn't prepare your natural hair before braiding…Your hair is going to be in braids for a couple of months at least. Your stylist should work with a clean, freshly washed head of hair. They should also moisturize your hair and scalp as they go. This will cut down on itching and scratching which ultimately leads to dry flaky skin. Which then leads to undesirable, dandruff looking braids…EWWW!
5. A stylist who doesn't care about your edges…Yes, a stylist needs to have a good grip on your hair and the braid in order to install it. It may hurt a little and feel tight, but a loose braid is a short lived braid. That thing will start looking old a lot sooner than you planned. But when it comes to your edges, a stylist should loosen their grip some in that area. That area is sensitive, with fine, delicate hairs that can't handle the pulling and the weight of braids. So tell your stylist before hand that you want extra care taken with your edges so you will have some left when the braids are removed!
6. A stylist who doesn't educate you on the aftercare and maintenance of your braids…A protective style doesn't mean we get it then forget it. We still need to care for our natural hair underneath. We need to keep it moisturized with oil based sprays and greases. All that swimming and dry heat can do a doozy on your scalp. Braids need to be tied up every night with a silk scarf to cut down on the frizzies and keep the style looking it's best for as long as possible. If you want, you can get a retouch on the front of your braids (having the front rebraided) so that it looks new again without having the whole thing redone. If your stylist doesn't tell you any maintenance suggestions, then don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask for product recommendations too.
You spent your hard earned money and invested all that time sitting in their chair, make sure that your stylist does the work properly and to your liking. IT'S BRAID SEASON!!! Enjoy being FREE!!!