How To Prepare Thick & Fine Hair For Braids [The Beginner’s Guide]

Braids are an amazing protective style if you’re trying to grow your hair or give it a break from everyday styling. That said, if you don’t prep your hair before braiding it, your braids can do more harm than good. Keep reading to find out exactly how to prepare your hair for braids!

5 simple steps need to be done before you get your hair braided to make sure that your hair and scalp can withstand the additional weight and pulling of your braids:

  1. Take care of any pre-existing issues
  2. Wash and condition your hair
  3. Apply a deep-conditioning treatment
  4. Moisturize and detangle your hair
  5. Keep your hair stretched

Keep reading to find out more about how to prepare your hair for braids. I’m going to dive deeper into each of the 5 steps above to show you the best methods, products, and DIY home remedies to make sure your hair is at its best before you braid it. Take a look!

1. Take Care Of Any Pre-Existing Issues Before Braiding Your Hair

If you don’t tend to the pre-existing issues you have with your hair before you braid it, you will make any pre-existing issues worse; as much as braids are a protective style, they can exacerbate hair damage.

Tending to pre-existing issues should be done at least 2 weeks before getting your braided. If you have any pre-existing issues with your hair, such as split-ends, you need to trim your hair before braiding it. If you have damaged hair, I recommend getting protein treatments such as the Aphogee Two-step Protein Treatment to strengthen your hair.

How to Prep Hair For Braids

How To Trim Your Split Ends

Trimming your split-ends before getting your hair braided will prevent your braids from causing your split ends to move up your hair shaft, thus further damaging your hair. Trimming your split ends will also prevent them from sticking out of your braids!

Here’s how you can trim your own split ends at home using the Twist Method:

Step 01: The night prior to trimming your ends, apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair and cover your hair with a plastic shower cap overnight

Step 02: The following morning, part your hair down the middle so that you have two equal sections

Step 03: Secure the right section with a hair tie or banana clip

Step 04: Split the left section in half (horizontally), then secure the top half with a separate hair tie or banana clip

Step 05: Cover the hair you’ve secured with a plastic shower cap

Step 06: Spray some water on the section of hair you are starting with so that your hair is 80% dry

Step 07: This step is optional. You can add more leave-in conditioner to the section you are working on if need be

Step 08: Detangle this section of hair using a wide-tooth comb or a detangling brush. Start at the ends fo your hair and work up to your roots

Step 09: When you have detangled your section of hair, place it between your thumb and pointer finger, then skim your fingers down your hair shaft to smoothen it

Step 10: Stop just before the part you need to trim, take your hair scissors, and trim those ends off

Step 11: Twist the section of hair you’ve just trimmed

Step 12: Move onto the other sections of hair repeating Steps 6 – 11

Step 13: When you have finished, rinse out the leave-in conditioner while your hair is still twisted

Step 14: Allow your hair to air dry naturally overnight in the twists

If you’d like to learn more about other ways to trim your own ends at home, take a look at this article Should I Trim Ends Before Or After Braids? Plus How To Trim Properly!

How To Do Protein Treatments

Protein in the form of Keratin is the building block of healthy hair, which is why you should do protein treatments to treat damaged hair. Especially before getting your hair braided, the braids’ additional strain can cause damaged hair to break or shed.

Here are 5 of the best protein treatments on the market:

Product Name:Product Description:Suitable Hair Type:Price:Purchase Link:
Aphogee Two-step Protein TreatmentPrevents & repairs extremely damaged or dry hair within 6 weeksColor-treated hair$23.85Click Here
SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Treatment MasquePrevents shedding or breakage by moisturizing hair & increasing hair’s elasticityCurly hair$11.24Click Here
Arvazallia – Fortifying Protein Hair Mask and Deep ConditionerPrevents hair damage, protects against split ends whilst moisturizing hairDamaged hair, dry hair, color-treated hair$13.99Click Here
 Olaplex Hair Perfector (No. 3) Repairing TreatmentRestores hair’s internal strength & intensifies moisture retention Severely damaged hair$28.00Click Here
SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Protein TreatmentReparative protein treatment, revitalizes & reinforces hair by reducing hair breakage by at least 76%All hair types$11.49Click Here
Table Showing The Best Protein Treatments On The Market

If you’re a DIY woman and you’re trying to repair your hair using protein and nutrients, I have just the thing for you! An avocado protein hair mask.

Avocado Protein Treatment

Here’s how you can do a protein-treatment at home using avocados:

  • A ripe avocado
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise/ 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • A plastic shower cap

Step 1: Mash the avocado in a bowl until there are no lumps

Step 2: Add the mayonnaise or coconut oil with the avocado and mix thoroughly

Step 3: Coat the treatment onto your hair, focusing on your hair’s ends and the length of your hair. Do not apply it on your scalp or roots

Step 4: Cover your hair with a plastic shower cap for 30 minutes

Step 5: Rinse out the treatment using cool water

Step 6: Wash your hair with a cleansing shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner. Do not use a co-wash

Step 7: Towel dry your hair by patting it then wrapping the towel around your head to absorb excess water

Step 8: Let your hair air dry naturally before styling it

If you’d like to learn more about how to do a protein treatment before braids and what the best homemade treatments to try are, take a look at this article Should I Do A Protein Treatment Before Braids? PLUS How To Do It Yourself!

2. Wash And Condition Your Hair Before Braiding

Ensuring that your hair and scalp are properly cleansed before you braid your hair is crucial as your hair will be secured away under braids for weeks, so it will be difficult to cleanse it properly.

The best way to wash your hair before braiding it is to use a clarifying shampoo that suits your hair type to avoid drying-out or weighing down your hair and following up with a moisturizing conditioner 3 days before braiding your hair. That said, if you have dry hair, apply a hair oil like argan oil to moisturize your hair before you wash it.

When you have a good foundation (clean hair and scalp), your hair will be able to withstand any damage caused by braids.

Here’s how to properly wash and condition your hair before getting braids:

Step 1: Detangle your hair using a wide-tooth comb or brush whilst your hair is still dry and not wet as wet hair is more fragile and can break more easily during detangling

Step 2: Apply hair oil (argan or almond oil is best) to the ends of your hair and let it sit for 30 minutes before you wash your hair. This will keep your ends hydrated

Pro Tip: Letting the oil sit on your hair overnight as opposed to 30 minutes will make your ends super hydrated!

Step 3: Use a clarifying shampoo that is right for your hair type. Take a look at this table below to find out which shampoos you should be using:

Hair Type Shampoo TypeRecommended ProductPriceProduct Link
Colour-Treated HairSulfate-free shampooOGX Renewing + Argan Oil of Morocco Hydrating Hair Shampoo$9.84Click Here
Curly Hairnon-foaming co-washCarol’s Daughter – Cleansing Conditioner For Curls$10.97Click Here
Oily HairShampoo with sulfatesNeutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo$5.19Click Here
Virgin Hair*Shampoo with sulfatesBiolage Hydrasource Shampoo$25.50Click Here
Table Showing The Best Shampoos For Your Hair Type
*Virgin Hair: Hair that has never been chemically treated

Step 4: Now that you have the right shampoo, wet your hair thoroughly using lukewarm water

Step 5: Pour a dime-sized amount of shampoo into your palms

Step 6: Lather the shampoo on your scalp and roots

Step 7: Gently massage you scalp using the pads of your fingertips

Step 8: Use the suds from the shampoo to coat your hair strands

Step 9: Thoroughly rinse your hair using cool water

Pro Tip: Lukewarm water opens our pores to release oils and cool water closes them to lock in moisture. Avoid using hot water on your hair to prevent dry and brittle hair

Step 10: Apply a moisturizing hair conditioner to the length and ends of your hair, avoiding your scalp

Step 11: Rinse the conditioner out using cool water

A conditioner that I highly recommend and works perfectly on all hair types is the SheaMoisture manuka honey & mafura oil conditioner that has intensive hydration properties from Amazon for only $8.69.

Step 12: Towel dry your hair by patting it then wrapping the towel around your head to absorb excess water then let it air dry naturally

Pro Tip: Always avoid rubbing your dry using a towel as this can cause friction which results in brittle hair and split-ends.

If you’d like to learn more about how to wash your hair before braids and what the best products for your hair type are, take a look at this article Should I Wash Hair Before Braids? ANSWERED!

3. Apply A Deep-Conditioning Treatment Before Braiding

Adding a deep-conditioning routine on wash days is an amazing way to prep your hair for braids as it not only hydrates and moisturizes your hair (which eases the tugging and pulling of braids) it also adds slip to your hair, which makes it easier to braid thus causing less tension on your roots.

Deep-conditioning your hair for braids can be done a few hours before braiding or the night before, as long as you use a deep-conditioning treatment rich in natural oils. Ensure that you only apply it to your ends and length of your hair. That said, a great deep-conditioner for all hair types is the MoroccanOil Treatment from Amazon for $44.00.

Here are 5 of the best deep-conditioning products on the market:

Product Name:Hair Type:Product Description:Price:Purchase Link:
Arvazallia – Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep ConditionerThick HairSoftens hair, improves hair texture, hydrates & moisturizes hair$12.95Click Here
MoroccanOil TreatmentAll Hair TypesStrengthens & nourishes hair, adds shine & makes hair manageable$44.00Click Here
Carol’s Daughter – Coco Creme Curl Quenching Deep Moisture Hair MaskCurly HairRehydrates hair, strengthens hair, softens hair adds extreme moisture & luster$11.97Click Here
Aunt Jackie’s – Flaxseed Conditioning MasqueCurly HairRepairs damaged hair, detangles hair & moisturizes hair, $9.99Click Here
Keratin Hair Mask Deep ConditionerFine HairHydrates and nourishes hair, repairs hair, moisturizes hair$16.98Click Here
Table Showing The Best Deep-Conditioning Products On The Market

I’ve been using deep-conditioning treatments on my hair for years and whilst I often tend to just buy a deep-conditioning product, there are times when I prefer to make my own to save some money.

If you’d like to learn how to make and apply my favorite homemade deep-conditioning treatment, keep reading!

Honey & Coconut Oil Deep-Conditioning Treatment

My favorite homemade deep-conditioning treatment consists of honey and coconut oil.

Honey is amazing to use on your hair as it is both an emollient and humectant that allow it to moisturize and repair hair. This is how honey helps our hair:

  • Emollients: smooth out hair follicles while adding shine and luster
  • Humectants: bond with water molecules in order to hydrate hair and add moisture

Coconut oil is also great for hair as it coats our hair shaft which allows it to deeply penetrate our hair to repair it from the inside.

Here’s how you can do a deep-conditioning treatment at home using honey and coconut oil:

Step 01: Mix 1 cup of honey with 1 cup of warm coconut oil

Step 02: Coat your ends and the length of your hair with the mixture. Avoid applying it onto your scalp

Step 03: Cover your hair with a plastic shower cap for an hour

Step 04: Thoroughly rinse out the treatment using lukewarm water

If you’d like to learn more about how to deep-condition your hair and what the best products and home treatments to try are, take a look at this article Should I Deep Condition Before Braids? PLUS How To & Best Products To Use

4. Moisturize And Detangle Your Hair Before Braiding

Applying hair oils to your hair and detangling it before you get it braided will guarantee that your hair and scalp are adequately moisturized, free from knots, and hydrated. This will ensure that your hair and scalp will be able to withstand your braids’ additional weight.

The best way to apply oils to your hair before braiding and to detangle it is to apply hair oil to 80% dry hair, focusing on the ends and the length of your hair. Following this, use a wide-tooth comb to gently comb your hair starting at the ends and working up to your roots.

That being said, too much of a good thing can be bad for you so before you decided to moisturize your hair with hair oils, make sure that you get a hair oil that is right for your hair type!

Take a look at some of the best oils to use on your hair:

Carrier Oil:Suitable Hair Type:
Almond oilOily, fine hair
Coconut oilDry, thick hair
Avocado oilDry, thick hair
Jojoba oilOily, fine hair
Grapeseed oilOily, fine hair
Olive oilDry, thick hair
Borage oilOily, fine hair
Primrose oilOily, fine hair
Table Showing The Best Oils To Use On Your Hair

Now that you know what the right hair oil for your hair type is, it’s time to detangle your hair so that it is easier to braid.

Detangling Your Hair

By detangling your hair before going to your hairstylist to get your hair braided, you are saving yourself a lot of pain and agony as your hairstylist will most likely use one of those fine-tooth combs they all seem to have. This will also make it easier to detangle your hair after you take out your braids.

You can detangle your own hair at home using either a wide-tooth comb or a paddle brush.

Here’s how you can detangle your hair at home:

Step 01: Apply a detangling spray or detangling conditioner on your roots and length of your hair (a little goes a long way, your hair should not be damp)

Step 02: Separate your hair into sections using your fingers to remove big tangles before you comb through them

Step 03: Using a wide-tooth comb or paddle brush, gently comb through your hair starting at the ends and working up to your roots

Step 04: After you have detangled your hair it may feel dry or brittle, apply a few drops of carrier oil to the ends and length of your hair to restore moisture

If you’d like to learn more about how to use hair oils to moisturize your hair, take a look at this article Should I Oil Or Grease Scalp Before Braids? ANSWERED!

5. Keep Your Hair Stretched Before Braiding

Once you’ve done all the other steps to prepare your hair for braids, you need to style your hair in a hairstyle that will stretch it to prevent any fly-aways so that your hair is neat when braided.

The best way to stretch your hair without using heat is to put your hair in plaits, creating Bantu knots, banding it, or even wrapping it.

Final Thoughts

I know it may seem like a lot, but I assure you that if you follow the steps laid out in this article, before getting your hair braided, you will notice a vast difference in the look, feel, and health of your hair.

We often only notice how damaged our hair is when we take our braids off; with these steps, the only thing you’ll see is new hair growth and healthy hair!

Give it a try, I promise it’s worth it!


Hey, I’m Jodie, the gal behind CraftyHairHacks. I have a deep passion for hair extensions, hairstyles, and almost anything that has to do with hair, which leads me to the writing and research I do for this website daily. Our site is still small, however, we’re pushing to get the best hair hacks out to as many as people as possible. ENJOY!

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