Many of us love braids as a protective hairstyle as it gives the hair a break from manipulation. But have you ever asked yourself whether braids actually help your hair grow?
I have been wearing braids for a while now, for me it’s the flexibility with styling and having not to worry about hair every morning that makes me appreciate braids.
Before we answer these 2 questions about braids: (i) do braids help hair grow? And (ii) which braids are best for hair growth? You may want to check this article about braiding: How to take care of braided hair.
With that said, let’s dive into the article.
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Do braids help your hair grow?
Yes and No.
Yes – braids can help hair grow when properly maintained
Braids are a protective style and therefore can help the hair grow by protecting the hair from breakage, preserving moisture and thus promoting growth retention.
Whether braided or not, hair will grow. But the challenge most people have is length retention. Whereas braids do not change the rate at which hair grows, they are great in preserving your hair from daily manipulation and protecting the growth.
Growth will therefore result from the low manipulation to the hair, which in this case, braiding helps with.
Additionally, once you have your braids, you can have them gently styled and this further helps reduce the number of times you will manipulate them.
Lastly, braiding helps reduce the amount of friction your hair goes through when rubbed against surfaces. These surfaces may include pillows when you are sleeping, brushing, or combing.
No – If poorly maintained, braids can damage the hair
Braids can lead to damage and prevent hair growth if poorly installed, not well taken care of and left on for too long.
When the installation involves pulling your hair strands from its roots with a lot of tension. The roots of your hair will end up breaking off leading to a condition known as traction alopecia. 
This type of tension can also lead to bumps or white residue forming on the base of your hair. Furthermore, this can be very discomforting and painful.
Additionally, not taking care of your braids can lead to damage and breakage. Bad practices to avoid include tightly styling your braids, not cleaning and moisturising and your braided hair, and not protecting your braids while you sleep.
Other factors that may lead to braids damaging your hair instead of protecting it include;
Leaving your braids in for too long which causes product build-up at the roots of your hair. It also leads to natural oils, skin cells and shed hair building up. This is unhealthy as it eventually becomes breeding ground for bacteria.
As a result, you may end up getting scalp infections or egg storing bugs and insects.
Other than that, leaving braids in for long will lead to your hair tangling up at the base and once you begin the detangling process, you end up losing more hair than you should.
Braids can help your hair grow if you take good care of your braids and benefit from the protection that comes from braiding. On the other hand, braids can damage your hair and prevent hair growth if the braids are poorly installed, not moisturised and staying too long with the braids.
Which braid is best for hair growth?
Let us look at some of braid styles you can explore to protect your hair from damage and thus promote hair growth.
1. Crotchet braids
Crotchet braids are braids installed onto already cornrowed or braided hair using the crotchet method.
Like we all know, cornrows serve as a protective hairstyle when done gently and not tightly.
Additionally, crotchet braids are easy to maintain and style on a regular basis without putting strain on your hair, proving to be very friendly.
On the other hand, using excess crotchet braids in your hair will be heavy on your hair and scalp leading to tension, so keep an eye and practice moderation.
2. Knotless braids
They involve partitioning your hair and adding synthetic hair extensions from the root as you braid without forming a knot.
Knotless braids are mostly known to protect the hair and help with length retention. Growth is a by-product from the freedom of hair manipulation your hair receives in this protective style.
3. Faux locs
Faux locs just like knotless braids, faux locs are a protective hairstyle and help with length retention. They involve braiding one’s hair then wrapping the braid up using more hair to give it a dreadlock look. They can also be installed using the crotchet method.
They are temporary and thus an easy option if you want to try out dreadlocks and are not sure about them.
On the other hand;
Faux locs can be very heavy on your hair once you have them installed. If not careful, this can lead to hair breakage.
Moreover, once you have faux locs installed, there will be tension to your scalp so be very gentle when styling or wait a few days before styling. Styling faux locs can be very frustrating to your hair too since your hair is pulled in the process.
4. Natural hair braids
Natural hair braids involve braiding your hair without adding any extensions to it. They are easy to do and can be done at the comfort of your home.
Natural hair braids are easy to maintain and do not require a lot of manipulation. It is also easier to treat and clean them up occasionally benefiting the health and growth of your hair. They are the lightest among the various braining styles, putting little to no tension on your scalp.
The other perk that comes with braiding your own natural hair is that you can rock a braid out afterwards.
When done tightly, they can lead to hair breakage from the roots. When left on for too long, they lead to tangled up hair and hair can break during the detangling process.
If your braids are installed well and gently, they will definitely serve their purpose regardless of what style you choose.
However, I advocate for the natural hair braids as they are the lightest and you can add all the good stuff that benefit hair growth while you still have them on.