Possibly (probably?) insensitive question about elaborate braided hair styles

Sorry, unlike everybody seems to say, I DON’T have any black friends I can ask about this. Not out of antipathy towards having black friends, it’s just that there pretty much aren’t many black people in our area. Anyway, I figured I’d ask here, where anonymity mostly reigns.

When I was around four, my Grandmother gave me my first boar’s bristle brush and taught me to brush my hair 100 strokes every night. That doing this would spread the oil from my scalp along my hair, ‘nourishing’ the hair and cleaning my scalp, and also the rubbing against my scalp would remove dead skins cells at the same time, so they could never build up and turn into dandruff.

I don’t know if that was scientifically true, but I believed my Grandmother and was a dutiful child, and it became a habit that has lasted through the decades. (And, in fact, I’ve never been troubled by dandruff.)

Which makes me wonder how it works for people who have those closely braided hair styles. One black woman I knew slightly at work once mentioned it had taken nearly seven hours to get her hair braided the past weekend. Clearly she’s not undoing that every night and redoing it the next morning… how would she ever get anything else done? And clearly there’s no way to brush hair braided into tight little braids.

So why didn’t she end up with oils accumulating on her scalp? And dead skin cells building up? At the very least, didn’t her scalp itch all the time??

I don’t think brushing your hair makes any real difference in the amount of oil or dandruff you have on your scalp or people with very short hair styles or bald people would have a real problem with it. People with hair so short they don’t need to brush or comb it, still use shampoo. Bald (by choice or otherwise) people, I assume use soap/facewash. I would assume (and it’s just an assumption) that someone with braids tight against their scalp can still shower normally and simply work a little bit of shampoo onto their hair and scalp (but not so much that they can’t wash it back out).

When I used to wear my hair in braids, it would take about 8-10 hours to braid and then about 12-16 to take down, so no, it was not something I would do every night. Instead the braids would stay in 8-10 weeks.

During that time, I would wash and condition my hair and scalp with the braids in. That would remove the dirt and oil from my scalp. And no, it didn’t itch all the time.

Now that I don’t wear braids, I still don’t brush my hair. I have very tightly curled hair (4A/4B) and that kind of brushing is not good for my type of hair - it would just damage it.

I have kinda short, curly, thick hair (European hair, I guess) and I’ve not brushed it since I was about 12 years old, when we figured out that brushing curly hair is not good.

I think your premise is flawed.

AKA, my grandmother didn’t know what she was talking about. Most likely because her hair, and my mothers, and mine were all very much alike texture wise: not absolutely straight, but so close you could only see it waved at all when it was grown past shoulder length. So the brushing routine worked for us and I just generalized it too much.

I’m still amazed about braids being non-itchy, but I guess that might be a question of what your scalp is used to feeling like.

I’ve run across claims that the ‘brush 100 strokes’ thing was popular when women didn’t shampoo as often and oils had longer between washings to build up. My grandmother told a story about her sister buying shampoo and doing the 100 strokes while she washed her hair with soap flakes and just brushed as part of keeping her hair in place. Then one day they both treated themselves to a trip to a beauty salon and the hairdresser gushed over the condition of my grandmother’s hair, to her delight and to the annoyance of her sister.They were both washing their hair weekly.

I’m white, but I use wear to wear my hair in braids occasionally (I was wearing them in my photo in the old SDMB picture gallery - which I can’t find, does it still exist?)

This was something I usually had done while on vacation and it would last 7-10 days. My hair texture is really thin and fine - I think the braids last considerably longer if your hair is coarser and thicker.

You wash your braided hair using shampoo and conditioner pretty much the way you would normally, making an effort not to pull on the braids.

With my thin hair, after a week or so the ends of the shorter strands sort of work their way out, making the braids look a little fuzzy. Conditioner helps, but that’s about the time I start to think about unbraiding.

Sometimes I had to leave them in an extra day or so because I didn’t have time to take them out. It takes longer than you’d think and it was tricky with my fine textured hair, it knots up easily. I’d have to work conditioner into each braid and massage each twist loose before I unraveled it, being careful not to miss even a single strand. It took a couple of hours at least.

I don’t have any close friends who are black, but black acquaintances have told me that they have a strong tendency towards dry skin, especially on the scalp, and that’s why so many of them use oil, pomades, and even cholesterol on their hair so it is manageable.

Ever heard of “ashy” skin? That’s dry skin experienced by people with darker skin, and it does indeed look like a coat of ash.

Although white, I can confirm this. (I’ve been in living and work situations where most people were Black and I was in the minority.)

I’ve kind of been wondering if the repeated hair brushing might not be a bad idea for me, though not for the OP’s grandmother’s reasons. I have long hair and now that I have white tile floors in my kitchen and bathroom, I can see just how much I’m shedding hair all the time. It’s a bit tiresome to sweep constantly. I’ve been wondering - if I got a stiff-bristle brush and brushed my hair well every day, would more of that loose hair end up in the brush rather than all over my home?

Some of it definitely would – the traction of the bristles would likely get the hair already loose or just hours away from ‘falling’ naturally. I’m constantly cleaning hair out of my brush, more now that I’m older, of course. :unamused: But I doubt it’d eliminate the problem entirely.

Alternative: get a Persian cat of the appropriate color to take the blame for you.

Heh, that part is covered. I have three cats, one of them a long-hair.

It’s very satisfying to vacuum at my house. I start with an empty receptacle, and one room later, it’s full of hair.