Summer, winter, fall, spring, rain or shine…. every season is a great time to protective style by braiding or crotchet braiding. You head out, buy yourself some synthetic hair or a blend of it and head straight to the hairdresser, plop yourself on the seat and after a few negotiations and a picture show, a hairstyle is settled on.

You may also opt for a DIY session, so you end up at home instead, in front of the TV ready to binge watch some movies or random series. Your computer is set on You Tube university and you begin to refresh yourself on the steps to achieve your chosen look.

After a few hours the deed is done, you look great, feel great and get a plethora of compliments in the days that follow. However, compliments aren’t the only thing you get. You notice an undeniable itch on your scalp, the kind that you can’t ignore and before you know it, it’s spread and now your head feels like it’s on fire. Somehow you manage to hold on for a few days until you break down and reach for the scissors and comb and undo your hair. All that time and money……GONE.

If this scenario sounds familiar, know that you are not alone. Many women develop an extremely itchy scalp after braiding. However, it can ALL be avoided. The culprit is the alkaline base that coats all synthetic hair. The alkaline base is contained in the finishing agent during the processing of synthetic hair. It’s what gives the hair the alluring shine.

Get everything you need ready

You will need:

  • Braids
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Basin
  • Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Hanging rack
  • Towel

The process to remove the base is simple and takes about 20-30min plus overnight drying time, so planning is important.

  • Do not remove the binding (fastening) holding the hair together, especially if you are working with bulk hair. This makes it easier to keep the hair together neatly avoiding a tangled mess.
  • Fill your basin with hot water (tap) and 1 cup of vinegar. Submerge the hair and swirl it to be sure that all the hair is saturated. Please note that you can use regular white vinegar or regular apple cider vinegar (ACV) WITHOUT the mother.
  • Allow the hair to soak for at least 15 – 20 minutes. You will see a white film form on the surface of the water, that’s the alkaline base.

Follow the mixing instructions

  • After the hair has been stripped, remove the hair, squeezing excess water & empty the basin
  • Refill the basin with hot water (tap) and add a bit of shampoo. Swirl again and repeat the process to clean the hair and remove the vinegar odour. (this is optional since step 6 will do the same thing)
  • Refill the basin with hot water (tap) and some conditioner, mix it well and submerge the hair. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. Remove hair and rinse.

White alkaline forms after a while of soaking

  • 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!


  1. Do not rub or brush the hair as this will disturb the strands making the braiding hair unworthy to be used
  2. Here’s a link to a video that follows this process (for the visual learners).

Hang on a towel to drip dry overnight

This is a healthy practice as it also cleans the hair from all the dust and dirt collected on it’s journey from processing to sale of the hair.

TIP: If you braided your hair without cleansing it and now have an itchy scalp, mix some ACV with water in 50:50 ratio and spray your scalp and hair. Saturate It and let it sit for 20 minutes. Run cold water over to rinse and air dry. Once dry apply a light oil to your scalp, like jojoba or sweet almond oil.

Images courtesy of Evie Dondi
Featured image via

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