Braids are without doubt one of the most loved hairstyles. First, they save your hair from constant friction and manipulation, and they can last for several weeks so your hair is always protected. In addition, if you are chasing length, braids are a guaranteed method to make your hair grow longer faster. However, one downside to braids is that they tend to unravel at the ends. If this is left unattended, the entire braid can disentangle, and in extreme cases, you might have to repeat the entire braid again. Below are the best five tried and tested methods to ensure that your braid ends are sealed neatly and that they will not unravel.
Hot water setting
Hot water setting leaves the ends thin and smart.
In hot water setting, you use hot water to seal the ends of your braids. Hot water setting only works with some synthetic braids because they soften when exposed to heat. To do this, heat some water and pour it in a jug. The recommended temperature is around 90 - 70℃, and it is a temperature that you can easily get by pouring the boiling water into a jug. However, be careful to handle the hot water as it can cause serious scalding when it gets in contact with the skin.
Next, section your braids into four parts so that it is easier to manage. Then with the jug of hot water at a safe distance from the scalp, dip one section of braids into the water, ensuring that over two to three inches are well submerged. Hold them there for about 15 seconds, and then pull them out and into a dry towel. Do not keep the braids in the hot water for too long, as they will disentangle. After removing, dab them with a towel until dry, then hold them for a few more seconds as they cool. Repeat the process with the rest of the braids. When complete, snip off frizz and wispy ends using a sharp scissors.
Binding with a Slipknot
Box braids sealed with a neat slipknot and finished with curly tips.
Knots are a great option to seal off the ends of box braids. However, some knots are too conspicuous and they make the entire style to look bulky and untidy. This is where the slipknot comes in. A slipknot is a small, discreet knot, which you tie towards the end of the braid. The biggest advantage of a slipknot is that it is almost invisible and it interlocks neatly with the braid to give a uniform finish.
To create a slipknot as you finish the braid, split off about six strands of hair from one of the three sections of the braid. While firmly holding the braid, wrap the six strands around your index finger once. Then join your index finger with your thumb as if to ‘pinch’ and while in this position, wrap the strands around your thumb. Finally, hold the strands in between both fingers and slide off the loops. This will automatically create a knot. To make it secure, pull the six strands upwards in the opposite direction from the braid and tighten. You can then finish off your braid after the knot, or put some curls for an extra sassy look.
Flat iron seal
Braids with a flat iron seal normally have a straight, defined cut.
Another efficient way to seal off the ends of box braids is by using a flat iron. This method works best on heat-sealable synthetic braids like Kanekalon, which respond well to heat treatment. The biggest advantage of using this method is that it is safer than using a naked flame or hot water, both of which requires special attention to handle.
To seal your braids using a flat iron, you will need to separate about six strands of hair from one of the three sections of the braid. While holding the main braid firmly, tie the strands around the section you want to seal off. After looping it around a few times, take your heated flat iron and pinch over the looped section. Gently wiggle off the strands until they are completely cut off and pinch the seal lightly with your fingers to secure it. Alternatively, you can iron over the section of braid where you want to seal. Once it is hot, pinch lightly with your fingers to secure it and then snip off the raw end with a pair of scissors.
Sealing ends with glue
Twisted braids often unravel quickly, but nail glue can hold them in place.
Twist hairstyles are hands-down one of the most attractive box braid styles to rock. Whether they are Senegalese, Havana or Marley twists, we all agree that they look so gorgeous. That said, twists are also the most vulnerable when it comes to unravelling. Since twists are braided with two strands of hair, they are so easy to unravel with the slightest friction. It is important to find a good sealing method that will hold the style for a long time without bogging it down.
One of the most common methods to seal twist ends is by using nail glue or super glue. However, super glue tends to be messy if not handled properly and if you use too much of it, it leaves a white stain on your hair. Nail glue is more preferable because it is clear and does not leave stains. To apply the glue, twist down your braids almost to the end. Then dab a drop of glue in the middle of both strands of hair and twist over it to lock the strands. Make sure the part you have glued does not lock in your natural hair, as you will have to cut it when undoing your braids.
Sealing ends with fire
Burning ends with fire is the oldest method to seal braids, but also the most risky.
Finally, the last method you can use to seal off the ends of your braids from unravelling is by burning them over an open flame. In this method, you plait the braids to the end, and then you use a candle or lighter to burn each single braid by holding it over the flame. Once the braid melts a bit from the heat, press it down lightly with your fingers to seal it securely.
This method is effective in sealing ends, but it can also be very hazardous. For one, you run the risk or setting all your hair on fire. This is because some synthetic braids are made from flammable materials. Once the flammable materials get into contact with fire, they can quickly burst into flames. The hair oils, gels and conditioners used while braiding can also help to catch fire quickly once exposed. Moreover, some flammable fibres melt and drip once exposed to fire, so when you press down the hot braid with your fingers, you risk burning yourself.
If you are to use this open-fire method to seal off your braids from unravelling, then go for 100% Kanekalon braids, which have been proven to be flame-retardant. Kanekalon is a representative synthetic fibre made with superior technology including hot water set technology; it is flame retardant and self-extinguishing. This means that once it is removed from an open source of fire, it immediately stops burning. It doesn’t drip either, so you are safe from secondary burns. 100% Kanekalon braids cannot catch fire easily and as a result, you are assured that whichever method you use to seal off your ends, your safety and comfort is always guaranteed.