- Make sure your hair is moisturized. This will ensure a smoother set and thus a smoother result. You know your hair best. Most people typically need to use a leave-in conditioner and seal with some sort of oil or butter if you fell like you need it. Build moisture. Start with a little, smooth it in your hair, smooth it down until it’s invisible. If it still feels a little rough or life it might frizz, try spraying a bit of water and maybe add a little more moisturizer if you feel like you need it. This isn’t a perfect science. You really have to have a feel for your own hair.
- Use an oil or butter after applying conditioner, but before starting the braid or twist to prevent frizz and to seal your hair. Just lightly dip your fingers in an oil or butter and smooth over strands before starting each braid or twist. If it’s your first time experimenting with your hair like this, just take notes on what you did and evaluate your result and adjust for next time. For example if your hair feels heavy or weighed down, perhaps you used too much leave-in. If it feels greasy, perhaps you used a tad too much oil or butter or whatever you sealed with. Another sign that you’re heavy-handed is if you notice residue after your hair is dry.
- Make sure your hair is detangled. If you have a Denman brush or Tangle Teezer, now is the time to use it. You don’t want to get any single strand knots. Also, if the hair isn’t completely detangled, you might have frizzy parts of parts of your hair that will stick out once it’s dry.
- Make sure your hair is smooth. The smoother the set, the better result. Think of your fingers as a flat iron and smooth your fingers down your hair strands. If you feel any rough patches, apply more water and/or conditioner to that section and keep smoothing until it feels soft and smooth to the touch.
- Set the braids or twists the same way you will wear your hair. If you wear a center part, set the braids or twists that way with the front two sections framing the face and braiding or twisting the middle section straight back. If you wear an off-center part to the left or right, braid the hair that way. If you prefer to wear your hair straight back, you might try cornrows, flat twists or just setting the braids or twists so that they are all going towards the back. You don’t want to manipulate your hair too much because it might frizz. Frizz happens when we try to move the part or do something different than the way we set the hair. Who has time for that? Nobody. Again, make sure that the way you’re braiding or twisting is as close to the finished style as possible. You’re putting the time in to do the set and you want to be able to ensure predictable results.
- Don’t use a comb to part the hair where you don’t want a part because the part will show and you will have to manipulate the hair to hide the parts. This is where the set has the potential to be ruined. Instead just gather sections with your fingers when you’re doing the set and try to use the same amount of hair for each braid for a more uniform set.
- While braiding, be sure to keep the 3 sections of the braid separate. White twisting, make sure the 2 sections stay separated. Do not intermix the hair from one section of the braid with the other. Keep the 3 sections of the braid separate from root to ends. If you braid to the ends, this will be an issue. I don’t recommend braiding to the ends. I think better results can be achieved by braiding the hair until you have maybe 1-2″ left and just stop the braid or twist. Remember not to commingle sections. Now, add a roller or start a finger coil to ensure that all 3 sections of the braid stay separate. My roller of choice are flexi rods, but some people use magnetic rollers, straws, mesh rollers.
- If your hair is prone to puff or frizz, use smaller braids or twists to prevent frizz. You’ll have more definition with the smaller sections and generally, more predictable results, but it’s all personal preference. Some women like more puff with a less defined look and do larger braids. It also has a lot to do with your hair type. If you have looser smoother curls or super defined natural curls, you can just loosely braid each section.
- Make sure hair is completely dry before unraveling the braids to prevent frizz. It’s a cardinal rule with natural hair and curly hair. Thou shall never touch your hair once it is set until it is dry. Who wants to put in the effort of doing the set only to have it ruined because you took down the set prematurely.
- Use a seamless end of a rattail comb or very carefully with your fingers to unravel the braids and start from the ends up. If you want more volume, you can separate the unraveled braids from the root to ends using the rattail end of a comb.
- If your hair is prone to frizz and you don’t want frizz, do not finger comb. If you must finger comb, do it carefully and delicately to protect the result from frizz. If you want, you can run a bit of serum through your hair or a little bit of oil depending on what you think your hair needs. Some people use a holding spray if they want to have more control and to prevent their hair from puffing later through the day.
Tools You May Need
Shower Cap (if you’re doing a wet set, you can keep the sections you’re not working with under a shower cap so they don’t frizz up during the set until you’re ready to work with it)
Products You May Need
Hair Spray (optional)