Crochet Braids 101
What Are They?
Before we actually explain what they are, it’s important to note that crochet braids actually refers to process of how the braids are added into the hair. Crocheting is the process of interlocking items, yarn, thread or in our case, hair, using a crochet needle. There’s nothing particularly special about the hair, except that it has a tiny hole at the root that is used to loop and secure the hair to our braids.
Crochet braids are extensions that can be added to our heads, without having to sew or glue anything in. The style is very secure, which is why it is so popular and on trend at the moment. The style can be done yourself or by an experienced hair technician. It is very easy to do and take a lot less time than the traditional, individual braids that we’re used to.
Most crochet braiding hair these days have been pre-twisted and braided, something that also helps with how fast they’re able to be applied.
The actual history of crochet braids is not really known, but the history of crochet is. Crocheting was developed during the 16th century and was called crochet lace or chain lace in Europe. The art originated in the Middle East and moved west, towards Spain. The word ‘crochet’ is French and it means small hook.
The practice was adopted by the British, French and just about every country in Europe. Back in those days, people made cloth and other women fibers to hunt and capture animals. Where the art of incorporating hair and placing it onto one’s scalp came in, researchers aren’t too sure. But the idea is ingenious.
Who’s Wearing Them
The great thing about crochet braids is that although it is mainly known for being work in the Black and Caribbean communities, people of every race can wear them. Despite being relatively cheap, celebrities have also been known to rock the style on occasion. This style is truly one that transcends all races.
Crochet braids has some amazing pros. They can do so much for our natural hair, while we’re rocking a new or funky style. We’re going to get into a few, and explain why they’re so good. Here are the pros:
- They’re versatile- unlike some weaves that can’t take certain styles (because exposed tracks aren’t cute), crochet braids allows us to wear them any which way we please, without having to worry about showing scalp or our cornrows. They can go into buns, updos, braids, you name it.
- They’re cheap- most crochet hair is synthetic and synthetic hair is extremely cheap. This means that you might just be able to get this hairstyle done for less than $100, installation included. Who doesn’t love the sound of that?
- They can last for a long time- as with all hair styles, the longevity depends on how well you take care them during the day and especially what you do to them at night, before you go to bed. The longevity is also heavily dependent of the style of crochet braids that you’re rocky, but the general rule is that the curlier it is, the longer it’ll last.
- They’re a great protective style- wearing crochet braids allows your naturally braided hair (underneath the braids) to breathe and have some time to grow. The hair isn’t being manipulated, heated, stretched, curled and combed every day, so it has some time to rest and retain moisture. The moisture retention and resting also allows the hair to grow a bit faster, which is always a plus for us.
- They’re not painful- for the most part, crochet braids should be a relatively painless process. How many times have you gotten your hair done and you swore that the stylist had something against you because of the way she was tugging at your hair? Well this style does not call or that kind of action, thank goodness.
Unfortunately, there’s not one thing that we use in the world today that doesn’t have a con. Some of these can be solved pretty easily, while others take a bit of working out. Here are the cons, of wearing crochet hair.
- Hit or miss texture- like we said before, the longevity and maintenance of the hair depends on what kind you put in. Some crochet braids can be an absolute nightmare to work with, while others are smoother than butter. It’s really up to you to do the research necessary to get a polished look, that’ll stay that way.
- Washing can be difficult- who washes crochet hair? Washing crochet hair isn’t so much about washing the braids, but more about cleaning your scalp; you can’t exactly go more than a month without washing or conditioning your natural hair. Well here’s a heads up: Most crochet braids don’t do well with water. It can tangle or end up looking very dry. Sometimes a dry shampoo is best.
- Edges screaming for help- it is very important to not braid the hair too tightly, especially around your edges. Crochet braids are attached to your hair, so it pulls on your hair. And that’s fine as long as it isn’t too heavy, but if it’s done too tightly, you may want to kiss your edges goodbye.
How to Prepare Your Hair
It is very important to moisturize your freshly washed hair, before starting the crochet process. Remember that your hair will be braided down for weeks, so it’s best to not start on with dirty or unclean hair. After washing and moisturizing, braid down your hair in the pattern appropriate for you. Do not make the cornrows too tight as this can cause hair loss and shedding. Do not do them too loosely, because the look won’t be neat.
How to Apply Them
To do crochet braids, you’ll need some crochet hair, a latch hook and to braid your hair down. The idea is to hook the braid into your own hair, instead of having to individually braid, plait or twist them in the old fashioned way. Here’s how you do it:
- Cornrow your hair in the desired braid pattern. If you aren’t sure which one to use, check out our other article on crochet braid patterns, so that you can choose.
- Choose a place on your head to start and slide the closed latch needle into a cornrow.
- Open the hook and place the crochet hair or braid in.
- Close the latch and pull the needle through the cornrow. Stop this about midway through the length of the hair.
- Remove the needle and make a loop with the hair. You should have a loop on one side, and a tail end on the other.
- Pull the tails through the loop.
- Twist the loop and pass the tails through again.
- Pull the tails all the way through to tighten
This process should be done throughout the entire head.
How to Remove Them
Removing crochet braids is fairly easy. If you plan to never reinstall them, you can just cut the braids and slide the excess right out of your hair. You won’t have to worry about snipping your own hair because it’s securely braided close to your scalp.
If you plan on reusing the hair, this is how to remove them. Feel each braid individually, and unloop or slide them out of the knot, as carefully as you can, to avoid knotting or tangling the hair. When they’ve been removed, tie each to a rack or hanger for washing and reapplication at a later date.
Kennita is a Caribbean girl who hails from the beautiful island of St. Lucia. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves hanging out with her friends, shopping and of course, looking up the latest hair trends.