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What are Micro Braids?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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Micro braids are a unique hairstyle made up of dozens or hundreds of small single braids. Particularly popular in the African-American community, this elegant look has become a fashion icon in modern society. When put in correctly, micro braided hairstyles can be maintained for several months with proper care.

Braided hairstyles similar to micro braids are popular throughout Western Africa. In Western society, the style has become a mainstream look for both men and women. Because the creation of the style is a labor intensive and long process that can be kept for several months, the style is still relatively rare, but is recognized by many fashion experts as a remarkable look.

Most often, the braids are put into hair by a professional hairstylist who has experience with the needs of the style. Hair will often go through a deep conditioning process before braiding to avoid damage. Because the style is demanding on hair, people with brittle hair or sensitive scalps may want to avoid getting micro braids. Depending on the length of your hair and the method of braiding used, a professional braiding session can take up to 12 hours. For those with thin or too short hair, synthetic pieces may be added to create a fuller look with more braids.

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Micro braids can be worn in a variety of styles, once the initial braiding is done. Like regular hair, it can be pulled into a ponytail, bun, or any half-up style. It can also be used to create large braids or French braids. Some micro braids can even be curled with rollers or a curling iron, although care should be taken as this can lead to additional damage or breakage.

Maintenance of the style begins before the braids are put in, usually with a deep conditioning or hot oil treatment at the salon. Because regular shampoos and conditioners can leave a residue on the braids, it is recommended that cleansing is done with a dry or watered down shampoo. Because the braids begin at the scalp, leaving it partially exposed, care should be taken to moisturize the scalp while you have micro braids. You may also want to dab sunscreen onto your scalp to avoid skin damage or burns.

Micro braids are often accessorized with a variety of hair ornaments. Beads can be woven into the strands during braiding, creating a vibrant, multicolored look. Hair accessories can also be attached onto the bottom of each strands, such as clips, beads and jewels. This can add variety to color to the hairstyle, and take it from casual day hair to an elegant, dressy look in no time.

If you are trying for a whole new look to last you a few months, consider speaking to a professional about micro braids. They will be able to tell you if your hair is capable of withstanding the process without harm, and can possibly guide you in the direction of a similar, easier style if the braids would damage your hair. Braiding will give you a beautiful and stand-out look, sure to catch eyes and attract notice around every corner.

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