How to Maintain Crochet Braids

I remember as a little girl sitting on the living room floor watching Bugs Bunny while my big sister braided my hair.  I was always excited to get my hair braided because she’d add extensions so I could wear my short 4C hair in ponytails!  I’ve been wearing protective styles off and on ever from tree braids, to half wigs to my current favorite protective style, crochet braids. 

What is Protective Styling?

Protective styling is a way of protecting your natural hair from the rigors of daily styling by tucking it away in a braided style or installing hair extensions like weaves, crochet braids and even wearing wigs.  I’ve been wearing crochet braids for over two years and my natural hair is the longest and healthiest it’s ever been.

What are Crochet Braids?

Mane Concept Bohemian Soft Water crochet hair
Mane Concept Bohemian Soft Water

Crochet braids are a protective style technique of attaching hair extensions to cornrows using a latch hook.  Crochet hair comes in various lengths, colors and curl patterns giving you unlimited styling options without having to cut, color, curl or straighten your natural hair.

You can wear a crochet braid style for up to 2 months with the proper care and maintenance.  I typically wear my crochet braids for 2-4 weeks and use the following maintenance routine to keep them looking fabulous even through my workouts.  

My Crochet Hair Maintenance Routine

Maintaining the health of your natural hair and scalp is the most important part of crochet braid maintenance.  If your natural hair is being neglected underneath, you’re negating the “protective” part of protective styling. 

1. Prep your natural hair. For the best possible base, I cleanse, condition and moisturize my hair before crochet installation.  My hair is natural (no chemical treatments), and tends to be on the drier side, so I use products formulated to hydrate and moisturize like the Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse and Algae Renew Deep Conditioner from the Camille Rose Naturals line.  To moisturize, I use the L.O.C. method (liquid, oil and cream) to hydrate my hair and seal in as much moisture as possible before braiding it down for my crochet braid installation. This ensures my natural hair is as healthy as possible before protective styling.

LOC Method. Liquid, oil cream.

2. Choose the right crochet hair.  Select crochet hair that fits your lifestyle.  For me, a lengthy maintenance routine takes away the ease and convenience of wearing crochet braids in the first place.  So, I opt for crochet hair that touts “tangle free” on the packaging, which generally means the hair is also resistant to matting and frizzing.  I get bored with the same style pretty quickly, so crochet hair that can withstand the manipulation of daily styling while maintaining its integrity is a huge plus in my book.

3. Maintaining luster and reducing frizz.   Crochet hair is made of synthetic fibers that don’t absorb styling products like natural hair does.  As such, products sit on top of the fibers and can build up over time, leaving the strands looking dull and more susceptible to sticking (matting) together.  For that reason, I apply styling products very sparingly and only as needed.

African Royale BRX Braid & Extensions Sheen Spray
  • Maintain Sheen and Luster. As an advent crochet braid wearer and frequent exerciser, I’ve found I only need to use a sheen spray (like the African Royale BRX Braid & Extensions Spray) to maintain the crochet hair’s luster and shine.  I love the BRX Braid Spray because it moisturizes, conditions and softens crochet hair without weighing it down with product build-up.  It also contains tea tree oil to soothe itchy scalp and fight bacteria from the sweat of my daily workouts.  Some people recommend using alcohol-free mousse for crochet braid maintenance, but I find it leaves a tacky build-up on the hair so I tend not to use it.
  • Trim ends as needed.  Crochet hair will inevitably get a bit frizzy at the ends over the life of the style.  I simply trim the ends as needed each morning during styling to keep the style looking neat and frizz free.

4. Take care of your scalp. To combat itch and keep my scalp moisturized, I use the Bamboo, Biotin & Basil Restoring Serum from the Taliah Waajid Protective Styles line.   It stops itching on the spot, strengthens and conditions my natural hair, and nourishes my scalp underneath my crochet braids. 

Once a week, I use their Bamboo, Avocado & Peppermint Dry Gel Shampoo to cleanse my scalp between workouts.  I don’t wash my hair while wearing crochet braids because my cornrows underneath don’t dry completely.  The one time I washed my hair while wearing crochet braids, my roots were still wet weeks later when I removed my extensions.  As you can imagine, that trapped moisture can lead to bacteria and even mold if you leave your protective style in long enough.

Taliah Waajid Protective Styles line

The Taliah Waajid Protective Styles line is perfect for crochet braid maintenance.

5. Maintain your edges.  I am SO particular about caring for my natural hair during protective styling, especially my edges!  Crochet braids can put extra tension on your hairline which is the most fragile part of your hair.  To keep my edges smooth and healthy, I like to use a nourishing edge control like Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Edge Control, that smooths and nourishes my edges at the same time. 

6. Sleep in a satin bonnet.  To sleep, I pineapple my hair at night and sleep with a satin bonnet to keep the crochet hair smooth and frizz free.  An added benefit of pineappleing is that some of my cutest crochet hairstyles are born from pulling my hair up at night to sleep.

So there you have it, my queens.  This easy maintenance routine has allowed me to rock beautiful crochet braid styles for weeks at a time.  If you have your own tips for maintaining crochet braids, drop a comment below.  We’d love to hear them!

Written by MaShelle Dean
Hey Fam! I'm MaShelle, your Fit & Fabulous Coach. I'm an AFAA Certified Fitness Instructor and lifestyle blogger living in Atlanta with my husbae, Ron. The Jiggle Free Zone is the place to come for fitness inspiration, product reviews, and workout proof hair tutorials. Be sure to sign up for the Fit & Fab newsletter so you never miss my tips on living a #fitandfabulous life!