You want to get your braids or twists on after seeing how great it looks on somebody else. You got your shopping list together using our handy braids and twists list. But before you get them installed, you should check the current state of your natural hair. Make sure it is full of moisture using a deep conditioner and strong with protein using a protein treatment. Like the song goes, "the foolish man built his house upon the sand... and the house on the sand fell flat!" If your foundation (natural hair) isn't strong enough to hold the weight of the building (braids or twists), it too will fall flat (fall out as in your natural hair).
The braiding hair you buy may contain an alkaline base. We know this can wreck havoc with our natural hair because our hair is slightly acidic. This may explain why some people complain about the allergic reaction to wearing synthetic hair. By soaking the synthetic braiding hair in water and vinegar, it should reduce the pH level and the itching.
When braiding your edges like the temples or hairline, I say don't. The hair is very fragile compared to the rest of your hair. It cannot hold as much weight which would cause it to fall out. Or you may pull it too tight which would also cause it to fall out. This baldness pattern is called traction alopecia. And it is not hereditary. So don't braid up your edges. Period. Use some edge gel instead. I recommend Hicks Edges and Olive Oil Edge Control.
Once your braids are in, you may think you are done with your hair care and maintenance routine. Wrong! You still need to shampoo and condition your hair under those braids. For the shampooing and cleaning part, dilute your shampoo and rub it into your scalp and roots using your fingers. Rinse well. Follow up with a deep conditioner. Again use your fingers but concentrate your efforts on your natural hair only, from roots down to your ends (try not to waste any conditioner on your fake hair tho). And no need to condition your scalp. Let it sit for 30 minutes or so and rinse well.
The shampoo and deep condition routine should be done on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. For daily maintenance, I suggest a good braid spray or leave-in conditioner spray for your natural hair and the braids. Also, because your scalp is over-exposed at the parts, using a light hair oil can keep your scalp from feeling dry and itchy.
At night, braid your braids up into large loose sections and tuck under a satin bonnet. Use a satin pillowcase too. This will prevent the frizzing and dryness that cotton pillowcases cause. Make sure to take down your braids after 6-8 weeks to allow your new growth to rest and regain its strength.
Have a blessed week!