What Are Invisible Braids?
Invisible braids on natural hair are an excellent alternative to sew-in weaves, wigs and clip-in extensions. They’re an option for those who love the look of gorgeous long hair but don’t want to wait the months or years it can take for their own hair to grow.
Invisible braids are a method of styling the hair using tiny sections of growing hair which are braided with extensions but only for an inch. The rest of the hair is left free.
The result is long and flowing hair. The braids are so small, they are not detectable from behind and are barely visible from the front.
Invisible braids last for several weeks when installing correctly. In only a few hours, you can enjoy the benefits of long and gorgeous hair that could otherwise take years to grow.
How Do Invisible Braids Work?
If you’re looking to give your scalp a break from traditional weaves, invisible braids are an option to consider.
They allow the scalp to regrow hair that may have been lost from wearing weaves or other types of styles. They’re also ideal for those who don’t want the daily fuss of wearing wigs or other kinds of extensions.
The difference with invisible braids is that sections of growing hair about ¼ – 1/8” wide are braided with tiny hair pieces. Sometimes the sections can be so small that only a several strands of the extensions will be braided in.
The braiding begins at the scalp and continues outward for no more than an inch. Thread is used to tie off the braiding to create a more secure connection.
The rest of the hair is left free. Invisible braids have more styling options that other kinds of braids offer.
You can also opt for invisible box braids. Invisible box braids are where larger sections of hair pieces are used.
However, the braiding technique blends the growing hair and the extensions in a way that the point where the natural hair ends and the extensions begin is invisible.
Are Invisible Braids Good for Your Hair?
Just like with other types of long-term extensions, invisible braids have the potential for damaging your natural hair. However, it’s important to know that most of the damage that occurs is during the removal process.
There are some who may claim invisible braids are a protective style. However, it’s important to remember that this would only be true if the entire length of the hair is braided into the pieces. If the ends are exposed, they will not be protected.
Although invisible braids are neither bad nor good for the hair, most people prefer just to get the ends trimmed immediately after the braids are removed. Doing this ensures that the natural hair is left in the healthiest state possible.
If the extensions are properly cared for and more importantly properly removed, the damage can be minimized. The success of your invisible braids will depend on the skill and expertise of your hairdresser and how well they’re cared for.
Do Invisible Braids Damage Your Hair?
When invisible braids are installed, cared for, and removed correctly, there isn’t a lot of damage that occurs. Yet, when damage does occur, it’s usually because either the braids are removed improperly or because they were installed too tightly.
One sign that the braids were installed too tightly is by the amount of hair loss that occurs during the removal process. If you see whole strands of hair on the floor, that’s the result of braids that were installed too tightly.
On the other hand, seeing tiny bits of hair is an indicator that the ends have been damaged. Because the natural hair is in a delicate state, it’s important for the hairdresser to be patient and very gentle when removing the braids.
Rushing, careless snipping off the thread or excessive tugging will result in breakage. Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to tell the hair is damaged until the braids are removed.
After getting the braids removed it’s recommended to get a trim. Follow with allowing your scalp to rest and pamper it with scalp massages with an essential oil such as peppermint and gentle treatment after that.
Even if the damage is minimal, this style is probably not a good idea for those wanting to grow their hair long.
Invisible Braids for Long Hair
Since the braided part of invisible braids is no more than an inch long, invisible braids aren’t recommended for those with hair longer than two to three inches. There are, however, other types of braiding that would be suitable for longer hair.
Micro braids, for example, can be worked with longer hair and may be a more suitable alternative. This is because micro braids incorporate the entire length of the hair with the extension.
If invisible braids were to be installed on someone with longer hair, the more extended parts of the hair and ends would be sticking out. This would leave any hair longer than the braid exposed to the elements, resulting in damage.
Also, the difference between the two textures of hair would be apparent and most likely not be attractive. If you want the best results, make sure your hair is the optimal length for the kind of braids you’re getting.
Invisible Braids for Short Hair
If your hair is short and you’re ready for a change, invisible braids might be for you. In fact, they’re an ideal hairstyle for those with short hair.
The braided portions of invisible braids only extend an inch from the scalp so hair that is 1-3 inches long can easily be worked into the style. If the entire length of the hair can be worked into the style, you can choose how long you’d like the hair pieces to be, you can rock a shoulder length or opt for longer tresses.
Also, if the hair is short enough, the entire length can be worked into the braid, making them a suitable protective style. This will give your natural hair a little time to grow.
Be sure to take the time to correctly removed the braids to minimize any damage that can occur to the ends. Some ladies don’t have any damage at all while others need to trim some of their hair.
This, of course, would mean that some length would be lost. Taking the time to select an experienced braider can make all the difference in the success of your invisible braid experience.
Invisible Braids Vs. Micro Braids
The braiding technique used with invisible braids and micro braids is pretty much the same. Tiny sections of natural hair are interwoven with small amounts of hair pieces.
The difference between the two is that with invisible braids, the braiding stops an inch from the scalp so the hair pieces can be free. With micro braids, braiding continues down to the end of the natural hair.
Some micro braids stay for the entire length of the extension. This means if the natural hair is five inches the length of the braiding is at least the same length.
While both looks are beautiful, some ladies prefer the full head of flowing hair with invisible braids. Others love the look of a full head of braids.
You can also start with invisible braids and switch to micro braids as your hair grows. But in the end, it’s just a matter of preference and what works best for you.
Invisible Braids Vs. Tree Braids
Tree braids are a braiding technique different than invisible braids in that small pieces of the extensions are pulled out from the structure of the braids and left free. The more hair that is pulled from the braid, the fuller the look.
This type of hairstyle also looks natural especially when worn down. Unlike invisible braids, tree braids are usually installed with synthetic hair.
This makes maintaining them a little different than with invisible braids. With tree braids, the natural hair can be longer.
It isn’t uncommon for some ladies to have hair five or six inches long when having tree braids installed. Another difference between the two braiding styles is that invisible braids go outward from the scalp while tree braids are done against the head like cornrows.
Unlike feed in cornrows or invisible cornrow braids that offer a sleek look, tree braids leave the extensions free flowing. There can be some styling limitations with tree braids.
Since the braids would be visible if the hair were to be worn up. If this isn’t an issue for you then perhaps installing tree braids might work for you.
Best Hair to Use for Invisible Braids
The best hair for invisible braids is virgin human hair. Human hair, of course, is the best option because it looks and feels natural.
It can be styled, colored and washed like natural hair. Human hair is also somewhat heat resistant which is ideal for the Queen who wants occasional flat ironed styles.
While heat styling isn’t recommended for every day, it is a way to give yourself styling options. Human hair invisible braids have the same weaknesses as growing hair and caring for them means you’ll still be washing, moisturizing, and doing protein treatments, you’re accustomed to.
Human hair extensions can vary quite a bit in quality and price. It can be fun to experiment with different textures, curl patterns and lengths.
Also, if you happen to find that the extensions you purchased are too long, they can also be cut or trimmed so you can get just the right look for you.
How Long Do Invisible Braids Take?
Getting invisible braids installed is a meticulous process and takes a lot of patience. You can expect the entire invisible braid installation to last anywhere from five to 9 hours.
But preparing the hair for the braids can take a little time too. Making sure the scalp and hair are clean is the first step.
Next, many hairdressers recommend flat ironing the hair to condense it. Doing this condenses the hair and helps to ensures the maximum amount of hair will be in each braided section.
Starting with flat ironed hair helps ensure that the extensions will have a solid and sturdy foundation to support the weight of the extension. It isn’t a good idea to get the hair chemically relaxed due to the damage that occurs to the scalp and hair.
Chemically relaxing the hair before getting a braided style can actually increase the potential for further harm. This is because the hair would be starting at a weak point and the weight of the extensions would add stress to already damaged hair.
How Much Do Invisible Braids Cost?
Invisible braids aren’t cheap. And because they’re so labor intensive, having them installed at a salon can cost several hundred or more dollars.
There are also some people who can do them from their home for a much lower price. However, having invisible braids installed at a salon are not a guarantee that your hair won’t be damaged and that hookup your friend knows about might do amazing work.
Unfortunately, a hairdresser’s charges are not an indicator or promise of proper techniques and knowledge. Take the time to shop for the best-qualified braider who has experience and plenty of references.
Another cost you most likely will incur will be the cost of the extensions themselves. Many braiders prefer you to purchase the extensions yourself and bring them in.
This is because there are so many different types of hair textures and colors, the braider would have no way to know which ones would be the best specifically for you. Some may have a few sets available, but it’s better to purchase them yourself.
The cost of the extensions can vary widely and will depend on whether they’re made of human hair, the texture, and the quality. You’ll be wearing them for several weeks so pick good quality extensions.
How to Wash Invisible Braids
Washing your invisible braids is like washing naturally long hair except that extra care needs to be taken around the braided parts. If you’ve selected human hair for your invisible braids, washing them more than twice a month isn’t usually recommended or needed.
In fact, washing them too often can break down the braids and shorten their life. It can also make the hair excessively dry.
To wash your invisible braids, apply shampoo to your palm and distribute throughout the hair beginning at the scalp. Gently massage the scalp with the pads of your fingers then continue washing, starting at the braids and gently work in a downward motion to the ends of the hair.
It’s easier if the hair is sectioned but not too tightly. Never scrub in a circular pattern or use a harsh motion.
Doing this can cause the cuticle to open and result in frizz and tangling. Finish by rinsing the scalp, using only water and not your hands.
Manipulating the hair while it’s wet can cause the braids to slip.
How to Maintain Invisible Braids
Keeping your scalp and the ends of your invisible braids moisturized is key to minimizing the breakage and slip that can come with having any kind of braided hair extensions. After washing, it’s important to condition your braids and hair with a thinner conditioner then seal them with oil to keep the hair protected and add shine.
Using a thicker conditioner can result in the buildup and is not recommended. Remember when your invisible braids are wet, they are prone to slipping so handle them very gently, especially when applying slippery products.
Moisturize your hair regularly and feel free to touch up the ends as needed. When it comes to drying, your invisible braids allowing them to air dry is best, but a hooded dryer is okay for those who need to speed up the process.
There are some who use a blow dryer. However, this isn’t recommended. Occasional protein treatments are needed to keep your braids in their best possible condition.
Removing Invisible Braids
Removing invisible braids is a delicate process, and it’s best to find an experienced hairdresser. When done incorrectly, removing invisible braids can result in a lot of hair breakage especially at the point where the hair has been tied off.
Even when it’s done correctly, some breakage can be expected. Removing invisible braids consists of using a pair of cuticle scissors and carefully snipping the knot that secures the two types of hair together.
Next, using a hairpin, pen end or very large needle, unwind the braid very carefully and slowly until the hair piece is apart from the growing hair. Continue doing this until all of the extensions have been removed.
Once this process is finished, it’s recommended to get the ends of the hair trimmed. Since this is such a delicate process, it can take more time to remove the braids than to have them put in.
It’s recommended to have the same hairdresser who installed your invisible braids removed them.
Invisible Braids Hairstyles
One of the best aspects of invisible braids is their styling versatility. Not only can the hair be matched to look like natural hair, but you can choose your preferred curl pattern.
From wavy to curly, the beauty of free-flowing hair brings that extra punch to your personal style. For those who want a different look, straight extensions are available.
These are an excellent alternative to relaxers and heated styling tools. It can also be fun to try out different colors and lengths too.
Invisible braids are usually worn down, but with a little practice, they can be loosely styled up. When worn up, the braids would only be visible near the hairline, and the rest of the hair can be however you like.
With so many options available, the only problem you may have with invisible braids is which invisible braids for natural hair to choose first.