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11 Simple Steps to Take Down Braids Without Sacrificing Your Edges

This website was born as a result of my journey to recover from hair loss after braids took my edges out several years ago.

Apart from the style being too tight and wearing the style longer than I should have, I was also unnecessarily rough when taking out the braids, which all contributed to hair loss.

I have been in a protective cycle with braids since May and have developed the best way to take out braids, especially around the edges with minimal loss of hair.

This article will look into the precautions to take before installing the braids and during installation, and 11 steps to taking down the braids with minimal hair loss.

How to take down box braids without losing hair

5 Important Things to Note Prior to & While Installing Braids

1. Hair Elasticity

Check your hair for elasticity and make sure it’s healthy enough to accommodate extensions.

How do you check for hair elasticity? Grab a small section of your hair and stretch while wet. 

If it bounces right back, your hair is healthy enough for braids. If it doesn’t, you will need to do strengthening treatments on your hair for a few more weeks/months. 

2. Prepare Your Hair

The week and two days before installing your braids, carry out a deep conditioning and hot oil treatment with a hair steamer.

3. Pay Attention During Installation

When installing braids around the edges and nape, make sure the hair used is as minimal as possible so it doesn’t weigh down and pull on the hair.

4. Use Good Quality Hair

Use good quality hair extensions such as Kanekalon for the installation. Invest in authentic extensions.

5. Treat the Extensions

Soak the extensions in vinegar for 20 minutes and rinse with lukewarm water a few days before the install.

This will remove the alkaline in the hair and prevent itching once braids are installed. 

If you follow all of the above before installing braids, you’re already halfway to keeping your edges and nape intact.

When the time comes to take down your braids, follow the instructions below, and the only hair you will lose is shed hair:-

11 Simple Steps to Take Down Box Braids Without Losing Hair

1. DIY

Do it yourself. Hair salons don’t have the patience to be gentle when taking out braids.

They will likely reap out your edges in an effort to get it all out in as short a time as possible and move on to the next customer.

2. Section the Fragile Parts

The most fragile parts of your hair after wearing braids for a few months are the edges, sides, and nape.

Take those out last or at the beginning. Once the rest of the hair is undone, pull out of the way into a bun.

3. Cut Off the Tips

Cut off the tips of the braids or halfway if you have shorter hair before you taking them out one by one.

4. Undo the Base with Your Fingers

When you get to the base of each braid, put down the comb and use your fingers to undo the rest, and pull out the extension very gently. Do not detangle at this point.

5. Follow 1 – 4

Take out the rest of the braids following steps 1 – 4 above.

It will take some time to take out the braids so maybe you want to start with the middle and take out over a few days. You can wear in a bun in the meantime if you have to go out. 

Post Removal

6. Section Hair

Section your hair into 4 – 6 manageable portions at this point and work out the shed hair thoroughly. 

7. Oil Sections

Heat up some coconut oil then apply it to each section of hair then pin up. Wait 10 minutes till the oil cools down.

Start working on the hair with your fingers. You can also use this ultimate detangling oil mix for this step. 

8. Detangle

Rub small sections of your hair between your fingers, loosening the roots gently and working out the lint at the base. Your hair should start to detangle at this point.

If your hair still feels knotted a bit, do not force out the lint because it will pull out your hair.

Continue to rub between your fingers until all the dirt and lint is loosened then pull out with your fingers.

9. Do Not Detangle with a Comb

This might take some time but the reward of reduced hair loss is worth it. Do not use a comb at any point in the process. Stick to your fingers for detangling and working out the dirt and lint.

10. Shampoo and Deep Condition

After your hair is thoroughly detangled, wash with a moisturizing shampoo in sections. Be patient while washing.

There may still be some shed hair in there. You can also clarify with diluted apple cider vinegar before shampooing. 

11. Deep Condition with Heat

Deep condition with a deep conditioner that moisturizes but also contains protein.

A hair steamer is very important at this point and for the next few weeks after taking out the box braids. 

Some great deep conditioners for this step include:-

How Long Should You Keep Box Braids In?

The ideal time is 8 weeks but if you take care of your braids properly and redo the edges, you can stretch the braids for up to 12 weeks. 

You can wear them beyond 12 weeks if you want to but you’re risking your edges and perimeter coming out with the extensions when you take them down. 

In addition to hair loss, wearing braids too long can also weaken the hair around your edges, perimeter, and nape. 

Do Box Braids Make Your Hair Grow Faster?

The initial pressure after installation might encourage blood flow to your scalp and encourage hair growth but don’t expect any significant growth.

However, since your hair is in a protective style and free from manipulation, you can expect maximum retention as long as you take care of your hair while in the braids. 

Do Box Braids Damage Your Hair?

Box braids don’t damage hair. They protect your hair, encourage growth and promote retention.

Damage only comes into play when you wear the braids for too long or ignore your hair while under braids. 

They will also damage your hair if they are too tight. If you can’t sleep after the installation, they are too tight. Take them out ASAP. 

As long as you stick to the recommendations in this article, you can expect healthy hair growth using braids as a protective style.

Picture of My Braids

Below is a picture of my hair after I installed my latest set of braids last week. This is my third set of braids this year and my edges remain full and healthy.

taking down braids without losing hair

Get Your Braids Pre & Post Installation Tool Kit Below

black & gold kanekalon coloured jumbo braid

Black & Gold Kanekalon Coloured Jumbo Braid

Sassy Kanekalon jumbo braid

Sassy Kanekalon Jumbo Braid Extensions

You can even get pre-stretched braid hair these days which cuts the work in half.

Sensationnel Synthetic Hair Braids XPRESSION 2X Pre-Stretched Braid Hair is very popular.


Lucy Bee Organic Coconut Oil


Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut Oil

bragg apple cider vinegar

Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Spectrum naturals organic apple cider vinegar

Spectrum Naturals Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

heinz distilled white vinegar

Heinz Distilled White Vinegar

More Healthy Hair Growth Resources

Pin it for Later – 11 Steps to Remove Braids Without Hair Loss

11 steps to take down your braids without sacrificing your edges

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Tuesday 6th of October 2015

Thanks for the great tips. I usually lose a lot of hair in the nape because I don't detangle properly.

Natural Oils for Hair & Health

Thursday 8th of October 2015

Glad I could help. Happy hair growing :)