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Micro Braids: How To Achieve & Maintain The Look In 5 Steps

Micro Braids: How To Achieve & Maintain The Look In 5 Steps

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As timely as they are timeless, micro braids (also known as tiny braids or small braids) have seen a major renaissance in the last several years. Beauties like Beyonce, Zoe Kravitz & Brandy—the girl who reignited it all—have each rocked micro braids or small individuals on the red carpet & beyond, highlighting the braid style’s chic, intricate look & versatility. 

Whether your hair is bobbed at the chin, drapes down to the waist, or hovers somewhere in between, micro braids practically demand a second glance. They aren’t just a beautiful hairstyle, they’re a beautifully complex art form & is one of the leading protective hairstyles for natural hair that helps shield strands from damage caused by heat styling, tugging & yanking.

But the complexity of micro braids hairstyles doesn’t mean they’re difficult to install. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to achieve this sleek & classic protective style.

What Are Micro Braids?

But first: What are microbraids—& what’s the story behind them?

The micro braid hairstyle is a derivative of box braids, only they are much, much smaller. (Think: super tiny.) Their tight weave resembles slender strands of hair, which gives you the liberty to create many different micro braid styles, such as:

  • Half-up, half-down
  • Plopped on top of your head
  • Pulled back into a ballerina bun or into a high ponytail
  • Curled with a curling iron
  • Plaited into additional braids

Micro braids may be on-trend now but braids themselves date back eons. Some sources report braids can be traced back to 3500 BCE & were worn to convey everything from one’s marital status to their tribe.1 

Over the centuries, several different types of braids styles—cornrow braids, crown braids, jumbo braids, crochet braids, box braids, & Senagalese twists, to name just a few—have each enjoyed time in the limelight. The one constant? They’re gorgeous & captivating.

Braids also offer several benefits to your natural hair. They:

  • Require low-key maintenance
  • Safeguard hair against temperature swings & humidity
  • Help maintain hair length
  • Protect your scalp 
  • Aid with keeping hair lush & moisturized

Micro braids are also lighter than jumbo & box braids, which makes them a top option for fragile, thinning hair.2

Another benefit of micro braids is their longevity. If you care for them well—more on this later—your micro braids can hold between four & eight weeks.

How much do micro braids cost?

If you forgo the DIY method & head to a salon for micro braids, you can expect to pay between $100 & $500 for installation. This depends on: 

  • The stylist/salon
  • The length of your hair
  • The look you’re seeking
  • The amount of time it requires

Typically, you can expect to spend a minimum of seven hours at a salon, but you can break up your visits.

If you go at it on your own, you have the option of using your natural hair or adding synthetic or natural hair extensions to amplify your volume or flaunt a longer protective style. The type of hair you choose determines its cost.

Won over by the whole idea of micro braids? Let’s take a look at how you can create them at home.

How To Do Micro Braids

Micro braids capture the sweet spot between elaborate & effortless. Still, they require thoughtful prep, deft fingers & endurance. 

Step 1: Prep Hair Well In Advance

Having healthy hair is the key to installing & maintaining micro braids. Some experts in the hair trade recommend prepping your hair up to 14 days in advance before diving into this braided hairstyle. This is not an ironclad requirement but it underscores the fact that hair should be well-nourished before you give micro braids a try.

Leading up to micro braids, you might want to consider using:

  • Jojoba hot oil treatment – PATTERN’S Jojoba Oil Self-Heating Packs nourish & hydrate strands. They also improve hair elasticity. How? Jojoba oil is rich in various vitamins & minerals, including copper, zinc & Vitamins A, C & E.3 These nutrients are some of your finest allies when it comes to hair care.
  • Hair mask for curly hair – A treatment mask that delivers a high dose of love & hydration readies hair for the tightness of micro braids. PATTERN’s Treatment Mask has a wealth of ultra-nourishing ingredients, including Moringa & rice water, which brims with amino acids, vitamins & minerals.Rice Water hair products encourages hair growth & discourages natural hair breakage, helping your strands stay strong & supple. It also works brilliantly with 4C hair texture.

    Step 2: Shampoo & Condition

    Prior to micro braiding hair, use a clarifying shampoo to ensure your hair is free of impurities. 

    PATTERN’s Curl Cleansing Shampoo contains surfactants like chlorides, bromides & cetyl-fatty alcohols. These powerful compounds banish grease & get rid of product buildup.5

    Post-shampoo, condition as you usually would but opt for a thick, buttery formula to seal your strands with a protective barrier to prevent damage. PATTERN’s Heavy Conditioner boasts these hair care superstars:

    • Avocado oil
    • Safflower oil
    • Shea butter

    For hair that’s on the dry side, let your conditioner soak in for 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. 

    Step 3: Detangle

    Pair a detangler for curly hair with a shower brush or wide-tooth comb. These products will work together to turn detangling into a painless process by infusing your hair with silk-afying ingredients like:

    • Aloe vera
    • Grapeseed oil
    • Sea moss

    Starting at the back of your head, section out hair & apply the nectar from your roots to your ends. Gently detangle. Allow your hair to air dry or use a blow dryer at low to medium heat before moving on to the next step.

    Step 4: Part & Braid

    The part of your hair determines the overall look of micro braids. You can go with a traditional center part, a side part, a diamond part, or choose to get creative as you’d like.

    Once you’ve made your choice, follow these steps:

    • Section off – Create pieces that are about ¼ inch wide & use clips or elastic bands to keep the sections separate. Individual braids should be no more than 10 strands of hair, which you will more or less have to peg using touch & a mirror. 
    • Style – Apply one of  PATTERN’s natural hair styling products, such as our Edge Control or Styling Cream, a smoothing agent full of emollient ingredients that will sustain your hair’s moisture & keep your braids soft & glossy. (It’ll also help hair blend into the hair extension, if you’re using them.)
    • Braid – Begin micro braiding hair, starting at your roots & extending to the length of your hair or extensions. Be sure you don’t pull your hair too tight, which could give you a headache & cause traction alopecia—a form of hair loss that’s caused by tension & rough handling of your hair.6 Repeat braiding hair. 
    • Seal – Seal off your micro braids by dipping the ends in boiling water.

    A word from the wise here: Micro braids can take several hours. In case you need a break & want to pick up where you left off at a later time—even the next day—begin your micro braids around the perimeter of your face. This will give you the option of pulling your hair back into a low bun until you’re ready to return to them.

    Step 5: Finalize & Refine

    Wondering how to style micro braids? Finalize your micro braids by applying edge control gel & using an edge tool to polish the details. This secures your baby hair to give your micro braids a lustrous look.

    How Can You Maintain The Style Of Micro Braids?

    Congratulations are in order! We know micro braids can test one’s patience, but the smashing look was well worth your time, wasn’t it? Now it’s time to sustain your micro braids so all your hard work wasn’t for naught.

    To maintain your micro braids, heed the following:

    • Wash your braided hair as you normally would & use a leave-in conditioner to lock in moisture.
    • Use your cleansing shampoo every two to three washes.
    • After washing & conditioning, use PATTERN’s Curl Mousse to add a dose of shine. 
    • Allow braided hair to air dry or use a blow dryer at low heat.
    • Separate your micro braids into larger braids & wrap your head in PATTERN’s Satin Cap to shield your hairstyle while you sleep.
    • Use PATTERN’s Scalp Serum, which calls upon lavender, rosemary & Peppermint Hair Oils to replenish the moisture of your scalp, which can become exposed when wearing micro braids.

      How To Remove Micro Braids

      Every good thing must come to an end, including micro braids. If they’re worn too often, they can lead to hair damage or traction alopecia.

      When it’s time to take out your micro braids, use an ample amount of oil on your fingers to gently unbraid your hair. Follow it up with your detangling nectar, transition mask & cleansing shampoo—& move on to the next curly hair updos (& adventure).

      Maximize The Beauty of Your Micro Braids with PATTERN

      Micro braids provide a versatile & beautiful look that keeps your natural hair luscious, moisturized, & protected against humidity. While the process of braiding hair can take time, it’s worth it once you reveal your unparalleled ‘do.

      PATTERN’s mission is to celebrate every hair type in all of its glorious uniqueness. 

      From hair products for braids to an array of valuable tools, we help you re-energize & style the hair you were born with. Whether it’s micro braids, tight coils, luscious curls, or anything in between, our products & accouterments give each hair strand a sought-after, always fashionable radiance.


      Sources:

      1. Allen, Maya. "The fascinating history of braids you never knew about." Byrdie. Updatred 14 July, 2022.  https://www.byrdie.com/history-of-braids
      2. Boakye, Omenaa. "The best braided hairstyles for thin natural hair." In Style. 15 August, 2022. https://www.instyle.com/hair/all-natural/braids-for-thin-hair
      3. White, Adrian. "Jojoba oil for hair: how it works." Healthline. 29 September, 2018.  https://www.healthline.com/health/jojoba-oil-for-hair#benefits
      4.  Hubbard, Ashley. "Rice water for 4C hair growth: does it work?" Healthline. 1 August, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/rice-water-for-4c-hair-growth#benefits
      5. Cherney, Kristeen. "What is clarifying shampoo?" Healthline. 8 March, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/clarifying-shampoo#benefits
      6. Watson, Stephanie. "Traction alopecia." Healthline. 17 october, 2017. https://www.healthline.com/health/traction-alopecia


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      Reviewed by Ashley Ludgood

      With over 12 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industry, Ashley Ludgood brings a wealth of expertise to her current role at PATTERN. Her insights have been featured in reputable publications like American Salon Magazine, American Spa Magazine, and Skin, Inc. Ashley has also shared her knowledge at conferences, including Face & Body, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to contributing to the industry. Having been an integral part of the team at PATTERN for nearly 4 years, Ashley continues to make significant contributions. Holding a degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, she remains passionate about her field. Among her favorite products, Ashley turns to the PATTERN Styling Cream, Moisture Milk, and the Cleansing Shampoo as her go-to essentials.

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