Every natural girl knows the struggle of trying to find the perfect protective style. Protective styles are meant to shield your strands and scalp from everyday aggressors and constant styling, but many can cause unnecessary tension and weight on your mane...doing more harm than good. Finding a protective style that actually preserves your hair and looks flawless always sounded too good to be true—that is, until we came across knotless braids.
Knotless braids are the latest viral protective style making waves on social media and we just had to know more. We sat down with Dr. Kari Williams, a licensed trichologist and owner of Mahogany Hair Revolution salon in Los Angeles, to learn everything there is to know about knotless braids. Whether your dark brown hair needs a break or you're looking to slay some ash blonde braids, we've got you covered.
What are knotless braids?
Knotless braids are an alternative to traditional braiding installation methods. So before we get into what knotless braids are, it's important to know how traditional box braids are installed and the risks associated with them.
"A traditional braid is installed by wrapping or tying the extension hair around the root of your natural hair, forming a knot," the celebrity stylist explains. "This type of installation creates weight and increases tension, which can cause traction alopecia, a type of permanent hair loss, which has contributed to the epidemic of Black women not having edges."
While box braids are a striking style, they're only truly protective for people with thick, full, healthy hair. If you have thin, thinning, fragile, or broken strands, a traditional braid installation may wreak havoc on your mane, potentially causing scalp irritation, breakage, and even hair loss.
Knotless braids offer an alternative for anyone looking to slay box braids without the unnecessary weight and tension. Instead of knotting the extension at the root of your natural hair, your stylist will seamlessly blend three strands of hair into your braid using what Dr. Kari calls the invisible root method.
"The invisible root method encompasses the adding of three individual pieces of extension hair into the client's hair," she explains. "This creates a braid that grows out naturally from the client's scalp without excessive weight or tension."
Because the extension hair is woven throughout the braid instead of anchored to the root of your hair, the weight from the added extensions is more evenly distributed, potentially causing less tension to your scalp and strands.
"This type of installation preserves the hair and creates a natural look as the hair continues to grow out," Dr. Kari says.
How do you care for knotless braids?
Knotless braids are a fantastic protective style for just about anyone, but if you're worried your extensions won't be secure because they're not anchored to your scalp—you're not the only one. Lucky for you, there's nothing to worry about! Dr. Kari says knotless braids will stay put anywhere from four to six weeks if they are installed correctly and are well cared for. That being said, protective styles may save you time styling your hair every morning, but that doesn't mean you can slack off on your hair care.
If you're keeping braids in for more than a week at a time, you'll need to wash your hair while it remains braided. While you have braids, Dr. Kari suggests swapping out your regular shampoo for a clarifying formula (we love Mizani's Moisture Fusion Gentle Clarifying Shampoo). When cleansing your hair, be sure to massage the formula into your scalp gently to avoid disturbing your style too much. While you’d typically follow your shampoo with conditioner, Dr. Kari recommends skipping traditional cream formula conditioners in lieu of a daily moisturizing spray like Mizani 25 Miracle Milk or Dr. Kari's Dr. K Daily Spray.
"It's important to keep the scalp and hair hydrated with the use of a daily moisturizer. When the hair is hydrated, it [can help] reduce breakage during the takedown process," the expert explains.
Once you've washed and moisturized your hair, you'll need to make sure your mane is completely dry before styling it. Because you've added extra hair to your 'do, you may want to use a blow dryer or hooded dryer. Leaving your hair even a little bit damp (particularly near the scalp) means a risk of developing dandruff, fungus, or even mildew. And who wants that?
If you don't have time to thoroughly wash and condition your hair regularly, invest in a good astringent (we recommend witch hazel). It will help remove dirt and buildup, keeping your scalp healthy between washes. Apply the astringent with cotton swabs to ensure you clean every nook and cranny of your scalp. Your head will thank you.
Interested in more information about knotless braids? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.