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Micro Braids: The Versatile Protective Hairstyle You Need To Know About

Whether you’re new to protective hairstyles or a veteran, micro braids are bound to become your next go-to style. Read on for everything you need to know.

There are so many braiding styles that it’s hard to choose just one, but if we had to choose, micro braids are one of our all-time favorites. If you’re looking for a show-stopping, long-wear protective hairstyle that is bound to elevate your Instagram aesthetic, we’re sure micro braids are going to become your favorite plait style too. The beauty of micro braids is that they’re a protective style, but because the braids are so thin, you can often treat and style your hair as you normally would if it weren’t braided.

If you’re looking for a protective style to slay this year, we’ve got you covered with everything you’ll ever need to know about micro braids. Whether you have dark brown hair or ash blonde locks, this is a style you won’t be able to get enough of.

A woman with red micro braids

What are micro braids?

Micro braids are tiny braids so small they often resemble thick strands of hair. As you might imagine, micro braids take hours to install and sometimes even longer to remove. The time spent is well worth it, though, because this look offers a level of versatility that not many other braid styles can. That’s because the braids are so thin they can often be treated and styled like your natural hair.

When installing micro braids whether, with your natural hair or added hair, only a few strands of hair are used at a time. Because of this, the braids are often much lighter than other protective styles, such as box braids or faux locs. This allows you to style the braids as you would regular strands of hair, making styles like curling iron curls, additional braids, buns, and ponytails possible.

How long do micro braids last?

You can leave micro braids in your hair anywhere from one day to eight weeks—it all depends on how well you care for them (the better the care, the longer they will last). However, we don’t advise keeping them for longer than eight weeks without making an appointment with your stylist. They can help you determine whether or not it is safe for your strands to remain in the micro braids a bit longer or if it is time to remove them.

Do micro braids pull out hair?

Over the years, micro braids have gained a reputation for snatching people’s edges—and not in a good way. Frequent wearers of micro braids sometimes experience thinning hair and receding hairlines, but that doesn’t necessarily mean micro braids are bad for your hair. Too much of anything is never a good thing, and much like any other protective style, if you wear them improperly or for too long, they can start to wreak havoc on your strands.

The truth is, any hairstyle, whether it be a protective style or a chemical service, can damage your strands if you don’t properly care for your hair. Follow our simple care tips below, and you won’t have to worry about micro braids damaging your precious strands.

While micro braids aren’t inherently bad for your hair, there are some people who should avoid the style altogether. Because the braids are so small, this style is not ideal for ladies with thinning or fragile hair. When styling micro braids with added hair, only a few of your natural strands are used for each braid. The extra weight of the added hair leaves weak locks at serious risk of breakage. Think twice if you’re already worried about the health of your mane.

A woman running her hands through her micro braids

How much do micro braids usually cost?

The cost of micro braids will vary depending on what salon you choose to get them done, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 depending on the state of your hair and the length of your desired final style.

What hair do I use for micro braids?

Much like any other braided hairstyle, you can create micro braids with your natural hair or add extra hair to give the braids a fuller or longer look. While many protective styles are installed with synthetic hair, we recommend using human hair for micro braids as it is less likely to become tangled in your strands.



How do you care for micro braids?

The first step in the care of any braided style is making sure your braids are properly installed. The biggest mistake anyone getting braids can make is getting them installed too tightly—the last thing you want to do is leave the salon and realize you can’t move your face.

Furthermore, any style that’s installed too tightly puts you at risk of developing traction alopecia, a form of hair loss that can be caused by hair pulling associated with tight braids, buns, and ponytails. To avoid putting yourself at risk, don’t hesitate to speak up if you feel like your stylist is pulling and take frequent breaks from styles that pull on your hair.

The reason most people get micro braids—besides the fact that they look fabulous—is that with proper care, the style can last weeks. While your hair will look and maybe even feel different, caring for your braids is very similar to your regular routine. If you’re leaving your braids in for longer than a week, you’ll have to wash your hair while it remains braided. Gently shampoo your hair once a week and follow with a hydrating conditioner on your midlength and ends to make sure your hair looks and feels moisturized. We love the Mizani Moisture Fusion Moisture Rich Shampoo and Moisture Fusion Intense Moisturizing Mask.

If you keep your micro braids longer than a few weeks, you’ll want to give your scalp and braids a good clarifying wash every other week. Start with a pre-shampoo scalp treatment like Mizani’s Style Shifter Society Wonder Crown Scalp Foaming Pre-Cleanser. This foaming pre-cleanser removes product build-up without stripping the scalp. Then swap out your regular shampoo for a clarifying formula like Mizani’s Moisture Fusion Clarifying Shampoo.

Once you’ve washed and conditioned your locks, make sure they’re completely dry before styling. If you’ve added extra hair to your style, you may want to use a blow dryer or hooded dryer to make sure your locks are 100 percent dry. If you leave your braids damp (particularly near the scalp), you run the risk of developing dandruff, fungus, or even mildew—yuck!

If your scalp feels dry or irritated between wash days, invest in a calming scalp lotion. We love Mizani’s Scalp Care Calming Lotion. This leave-in treatment, made with aloe vera, avocado oil, and eucalyptus, nourishes, cools, and soothes the scalp while getting rid of dandruff and flakes.

Because micro braids are a long-wear protective style, you’ll have weeks to play around with styling your braids. That level of versatility can often be a little daunting, so we took the guesswork out of it and rounded up some of our favorite micro braid hairstyles.

Micro Braid Hairstyles To Try Now

Ballerina Bun

To begin, gather all of your braids on the top of your head and use an elastic to fasten a ponytail. If your braids are very dense, you may want to consider using a shoelace instead of an elastic to prevent it from snapping. Once you’ve secured your ponytail, begin to wrap your braids around themselves to form a bun. As you wrap your braids into your desired shape, use bobby pins to keep your style in place as you go along.

Fishtail Braid

The beauty of micro braids is that your braids are small enough that you can style them however you’d like, even in another even more intricate plait. To begin, gather all of your braids in a loose ponytail and secure them with an elastic. Divide the ponytail into two equal sections. To create the fishtail effect, take a half-inch section of hair from the outside of the left ponytail and cross it over to the right ponytail. Repeat the process on the opposite side, taking a section from the outside of the right tail over to the left.

Continue crossing the opposite sections of hair until you reach the end of the braid. Secure the style with an elastic or a small clear rubber band, then remove the elastic from the nape of the neck. For a final touch, pancake the braid to create a voluminous effect.

Face Framing Twists

This simple but delightful style will get your hair away from your face in the hot months and take just seconds to perfect. Begin by parting your braids down the middle. Working with one side of your hair at a time, flat twist your braids until you reach the top of your ear. Secure the twists with a few bobby pins before repeating on the opposite side.

Curly Braids

Curling your micro braids is the perfect way to spruce up your look for a special occasion. If you added human hair to your ‘do, you can curl your hair the same way you would if your hair wasn’t braided. If you use synthetic hair, first check to make sure the hair is heat resistant. If the hair is heat resistant, you can use a curling iron to curl your hair.

It is important to saturate your hair with water first. Curling your hair while it’s wet will ensure the synthetic hair doesn’t melt and will allow your curls to last much longer. After your hair is saturated, curl one-inch sections of hair until just heated through. Synthetic hair will hold your style for hours, so once you’ve curled your entire head, there’s no need to set your look with hairspray.

Cornrowed Crown

This braided style will make your micro braids look elegant for any occasion. Begin by parting your hair on the deep right or left side of your head, near your ear. Once you’ve parted your hair, start a basic cornrow that wraps around the crown of your head. Continue braiding until you braid all the way around your head, returning to the deep part. If your braids are long, continue braiding any leave-out until you get to the ends of your strands. Wrap the remaining hair around the crown braid and secure any loose strands with a few bobby pins.

Sky High Ponytail

For this simple style, all you’ll need is a strong elastic or shoelace. Begin by gathering all of your hair on the top of your head. If you’re having trouble holding up your locks while preparing to tie your ponytail, flip your head over and let gravity do the work for you. Once you’ve gathered your hair in your desired position, secure it with an elastic or shoelace. If you want your ponytail to look extra polished, take a few micro braids from the bottom of your ponytail and wrap the strands around the elastic. Secure the loose strands of hair with a bobby pin.

Faux Fringe

Once you’ve installed your micro braids, it’s best to put down the scissors until you’re ready to remove the braids. But if bangs weren’t a part of your original style, you don’t have to miss out completely. This faux side-swept bang takes seconds to create and looks just like the real thing.

Start by sectioning off a 2 to 3-inch wide section of hair from the front of your head. Let the sectioned-off micro braids fall in front of your face and sweep them to the left or right side of your head. Position the braids across your forehead to get your desired faux fringe look, and pin the remaining hair behind your ear. Let the rest of your hair down to cover the pinned hair behind your ear, and no one will ever know you didn’t cut those bangs yourself.

Half-Up Top Knot

This fun and casual look is perfect for a girls’ night out. Gather all of the hair from the front half of your head and secure it in a ponytail on top of your head. Once your ponytail is in place, begin to wrap your braids around themselves to form a bun. If your bun is on the larger side, use bobby pins to secure the style as you wrap the braids around themselves. If your bun is small, you can use a second elastic to hold it in place after you’ve completed the style.

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