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Wear Synthetic Hair Safely: How to Remove the Alkaline Base

Dea Gbortoe

Posted on March 05 2019

Wear Synthetic Hair Safely: How to Remove the Alkaline Base

I began wearing box braids enhanced with synthetic hair when I was just a little girl of about 10 years of age.  After my new style was completed I would inevitably suffer from the “itchies” for a few days afterwards – something I always thought of as normal.  To soothe, I would simply spray my hair and scalp with oil sheen and braid spray which would provide only a temporary fix.

When I began wearing sew in weaves, I would add synthetic hair to my cornrowed base to prevent matting and relieve the stress caused by attaching wefts to my hair.  While this is a great practice, the discomfort I experienced with braids only intensified with the synthetic hair being directly against my scalp.

Now, years later I realize the discomfort I experienced was due to the alkaline coating found on almost all synthetic hair, especially kanakelon.  Even for those who do not have sensitive scalps, this itch is probably familiar but for others it can even cause a full blow break out.  This can be completely avoided and prevented by simply removing the base before using any synthetic hair.

You will need:

–        Basin

–        Vinegar (apple cider or white)

–        Water

–        Shampoo

The process will only take about 30 minutes.  First, do not remove the binding (fastening) holding the hair together if you are working with bulk not wefted hair.  This makes it easier to keep the hair together.  Next, fill your basin with warm water and add 2/3 to 1 cup of vinegar depending on whether your basin is large (same size as your sink) or small.  Submerge the hair and swirl it to be sure that all the hair is saturated.  Allow the hair to soak for at least fifteen minutes.  You will see a white film form on the surface of the water (see below).

After the hair has been stripped, empty the basin and refill with clean warm water.  Add a bit of shampoo and repeat the process to clean the hair and remove the vinegar odor.  After the hair has been washed, rinse one final time with a basin of plain water and hang hair to dry.  Now your hair is itch and breakout proof!

Other tips about wearing synthetic hair:

  • Never leave your hair braided for more than 10-12 weeks.  Otherwise you risk matting and tangling.
  • Wash and condition your hair regularly.
  • If you still have itching, spray your scalp with a mixture of water, glycerin, tea tree oil, and one of your favorite carrier oils to moisturize and soothe.
  • Do not pull your edges too tightly when braiding.
Human hair extensions are better and ultimately more comfortable to wear than synthetic hair so in the long run you would be better placed investing in some good quality hair. Synthetic hair on the other hand is both cheap and easy to find. Synthetic hair is also a great place to start if you attempting a new style or just starting out in the self installation world. As time goes on and your skills improve, you will want to try some human hair!

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