Black hair’s prosperity relies on threat avoidance. The climate, your pillowcase, and even one’s own fingers can betray the goal of optimal hair health. Our best shield against damage is a protective style — typically cornrows, two-strand twists, or braids — changed every couple of weeks. We call it “protective,” but these twists also stimulate hair growth, strengthen your ends, and even manage to look good. For LEVEL’s Black Hair Guide, YouTube’s Black hair savant, William Humphrey (WillOnAWhim) breaks down how to install braids, while retaining all the moisture your hair needs. It’s the first step to protecting your hair and a foundational piece to the Black hair journey.
Wash your hair and scalp. “Do not play yourself,” Humphrey says. “The buildup of product since your last wash day will have your parts looking like tile grout.” Use your fingers or scalp massager — or ask a friend — to give both your scalp and hair strands a good going-over.
Part your hair to create large sections. “Parting is only a nightmare if you make it a nightmare, so whip out your rat tail comb, pray, breathe, and get to work,” Humphrey says. Don’t stress if the parts aren’t right-angle straight — we can’t all be YouTube pros. You’ll get better with time.
Moisturize with a quick spritz of water and a generous application of leave-in conditioner. This will allow your braids to last longer and stronger. Pro tip from Humphrey: For extra sleekness, apply a small (we repeat: small) amount of gel.
Use an edge control — it controls more than just your edges. Also keeps your roots tidy (if that’s your style).
Rubber band the roots to anchor the beginning of your braid. Not too tight, though — unless, as Humphrey says, “you want to come out of this looking like Cynthia from Rugrats.”
Braid. This is the fun part. Enjoy it. Pop on a playlist of music or videos and sink into the self-care of it all.
Start again on a new section. Repeat until finished.
You’re done! Flaunt that healthy mane, playboy.