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Can You Get Braids Wet in the Shower, Pool, or Rain? What Happens?

Young black woman with braided synthetic hair wearing pink shades and lip gloss

Braid newbies often wonder whether braids and moisture mix. When they try to find the answer, they’re out of luck. The reality is that advice on this topic is sometimes inconsistent.

Some say you should avoid water like the plague when you have braids, while others state that water is totally fine for braids.

So, which point of view is correct? In this article, we’ll answer the question of the day, “Can you get braids wet?” in detail so you can make the right choice for your hair. 

Can You Get Braids Wet?

You can get your braids wet in the shower, pool, and when it’s raining. However, we do recommend taking certain precautions to protect your braids from fungal growth, hair damage, frizz, and unraveling. Keep reading to learn more about the potential risks of getting your braids wet.

Risks of Getting Your Braids Wet

African American woman with a braided hairstyle with human hair for a more natural look

Getting your braids wet can’t be too bad, can it? Well, there are some real risks involved when you allow your braids to get waterlogged, and we’ll fill you in on all of these risks below. 

Fungal growth

Wet, warm, enclosed areas are the perfect breeding ground for fungi like mold and mildew. That means that drenched braids that aren’t dried properly are at risk for mold growth.

The first sign of fungal growth is an unpleasant odor emanating from the braids. And once mold and mildew begin to grow in your braids, it’s tough to get rid of. 

The longer your braids remain wet, the higher the risk of developing fungal growth. So, it’s crucial to completely dry your braids as soon as possible and as thoroughly as you can.

Further down in the article, we’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to properly dry your braids. It is always easier to prevent mold growth than it is to remedy it. 

Hair Damage 

Researchers have found that hair is weaker when it is wet, so when your braids are wet, they are more vulnerable to breakage. The risk of breakage is higher when you have heavy braids since their weight puts considerable tension on your roots (e.g., hairline).

For example, there are different risks for getting box braids wet if you’re using weave versus creating braids with your regular hair.

Also, swimming in chlorinated water can cause your hair to dry out and become weaker, leading to brittleness and breakage in some cases.

Black lady with natural curls braided into individual plaits

Frizz and Unraveling

Frizz is another risk associated with wet braids. The water causes your natural hair to swell and expand, and when the hair dries, it often looks much frizzier than before. It takes just one dip in the pool to ruin certain styles.

Box braids and cornrows won’t frizz up as much as a single French braid or crown braid would. It’s all in the amount of tension applied during the braiding process – the less tension used during installation, the frizzier the hair will be after coming in contact with water. 

Another issue that you could run into is unraveling. If your braids are not secure, they will begin to unravel as soon as water touches them. 

Can You Swim with Braids?

Dark skinned beauty with black hair wearing rose-colored shades to protect her eyes from UV rays

Knowing the risks, you may think that swimming with your braids isn’t a good idea. But if you take the proper precautions, you can enjoy the water or wash your braids with minimal issues.

Here are some things to do if you plan on swimming with your braids: 

1. Choose the Right Style

Not just any braided style will mesh well with water. Some styles that can handle water include small to medium box braids, cornrows into a bun, Ghana braids, or lemonade braids.

Ensure that the ends of your extension braids are secured with rubber bands, dipped in hot water, or burned.

If you braid your hair without extensions, be sure that each braid is secured at the ends with rubber bands or pinned up using bobby pins or clips. Doing so will ensure that you won’t have to get your hair redone after a day at the pool.

Here are tutorials for some of our favorite braided hairstyles:

2. Wet Your Braids Beforehand

Since chlorine can be detrimental to your hair, it’s essential to take steps to prevent the harsh effects of the chemical.

One great way to do that is to spray your braids down with clean water, enough so that your natural hair will absorb it. If your hair has already absorbed the clean water, it won’t be able to absorb much chlorine. 

3. Rinse Your Braids Afterward

Whenever you swim in chlorine-treated water, you should rinse your hair clean immediately. This is especially important if you didn’t wet your braids down with clean water prior to hopping in the pool.

If you want to be thorough, you can also wash them with shampoo and follow up with a leave-in conditioner – we’ll cover this in the following section.

4. Wear a Swim Cap

Wearing a swim cap is an excellent option if you don’t want to take other precautions. But be aware that these caps may not keep all of the water out, especially if you’re unable to get a good seal around your head. Still, they are better than nothing. This swim cap is specifically designed for women with braids and dreadlocks.

How to Wash Braids Without Ruining Them

Cute black lady with dry hair preparing for a day at the beach

Most ladies keep their braids in for about 4 to 8 weeks before removing them. But over the weeks, your scalp and braids may get itchy, and your hair could take on a dusty look.

That means it’s time to give your braids a good wash. Many refrain from washing their braids because they are afraid to get their braided hair wet. But there’s no need to worry if you use the right washing and drying techniques. 

Here are some step-by-step instructions for washing your braids: 

How To Wash Box Braids NO FRIZZ + Drying Hacks! | jasmeannnn
  1. Make a diluted shampoo by mixing one part clarifying shampoo with 2 parts water and pouring it into a spray bottle (or applicator bottle). If you use undiluted shampoo, you may find that it’s very difficult to rinse out later. Spray the shampoo mixture onto your roots. This is where buildup and excess oils tend to accumulate. Also, we don’t recommend using dry shampoo on braids.
  2. Take the time to gently massage your roots. Be thorough and ensure that you’ve loosened up any buildup between your braids. Feel free to spray the mixture down the length of your braids and lightly massage it in. 
  3. Rinse out the shampoo mixture entirely and repeat the previous two steps to remove any residue or debris that remains. 
  4. Squeeze out the excess water so that your braids are no longer dripping. 
  5. Dry your braids thoroughly. Use the tips below to ensure that your braids are dried thoroughly:
    • Begin by drying your braids with a large microfiber towel. Wrap it around your head and press it into the braids. You can also wrap the towel around a few braids at a time and gently squeeze them. Let them air dry the rest of the way. 
    • Avoid tying up your braids in a ponytail or bun while they are still dry or damp; let them fully dry in the open air over the course of a day. 
    • If you don’t have time to air-dry your hair, you can use a blow-dryer on its “cool” setting to speed up the process a bit. A bonnet hair dryer (or hooded dryer) will also do the trick – it should only take a couple of hours at most. 
  6. If your braids feel dry, mist them lightly with a leave-in conditioner. If you use regular conditioner on your braids, this could lead to build-up. You don’t need to rinse out your leave-in conditioner.
  7. Style your braids as usual. 

We recommend following the above steps to clean your scalp and hair without excessive frizz or fungal growth.

Note: The process to wash box braids isn’t significantly different than washing ghana braids or any other type of braids. If you use the basic steps outlined above, you should be fine. It is important to note that we recommend using gentle techniques as you braid hair and air drying where possible.

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Now you can wash your braids or take a dip in the pool without obsessing over what could happen. You know the risks of getting your braids wet and how to avert these risks.

We advise you to take as many precautions as possible to preserve your hair’s health and the neatness of your style. We hope that this article is helpful to you and wish you the best with your braids!