why are my braids stiff

Why are my braids stiff? You realize that your braids are tight when you start feeling pain after you have invested enough time in installation.

Tight and stiff braids can be annoying, to say the least. Do not let them be, as they can cause irreversible damage to your hair. 

So many people think, the tighter the braids, the longer they will persist. Not really!

The stress can harm your scalp and hair, leading to breakage and shedding as well as possible edge damage or loss.

That is why many people wonder why are their braids so stiff and tight?

You end up with stiff braids when you do not follow the right installation process or stick with the wrong hairstyle after braiding, such as top knots or ponytails.

Fact: Cornrows with beads became popular in the 70s, but it was not until the 90s that box braids gained recognition. 

Why Are My Braids Stiff And Tight?

why my braids stiff and tight

A protective hairstyle that does not require constant upkeep yet lasts for a long time may sound ideal, but only until it stops doing its job 

Many of us can empathize since we have been there ourselves. Thanks to braiding!

Your scalp and hair roots probably hurt after you have them braided. Small, flesh-colored, or white pimples may also develop at your hairline or the nape of your neck.

Those bumps and pimples indicate that your hair is pulled too tightly, and it can cause serious pain over time. Yikes! 

Why Do You End Up With Stiff Or Tight Braids?

When you do not follow the installation process to the dot, you end up with braids a bit too tight for your liking.

Working with a professional stylist is crucial here, but so is how you communicate during the process.

Understanding the right hairstyle to wear after getting your hair braided is just as important.

hairstyle braids

Wearing your hair in a topknot, a ponytail, or a bun can cause tight braids and aggravate the pain as well.

The strain in your box braids may signify that it is time to let them down. It is crucial to do this when you first start braiding your hair.

Fact: People around the world like braids, but they continue to be the go-to styles for African-American women because of their natural hair texture.

How Can You Make Your Braids Not Stiff?

Sometimes, all you have to do is stick to the right hairstyle, which will significantly improve your braids’ discomfort and look.

But, on other occasions, you have to try many other things to figure out how to make braids not stiff.

Be Vocal At The Styling Appointment

Notice how you feel while you are still in the stylist’s chair. 

When she is braiding, do you feel any pain? That is when you should tell her to calm down a bit.

Forget about calling her up and asking her to fix any braids later; she can easily take a step back and redo them during your session.

talk to your hairstylist

Also, we all know that some braiders will not be happy to receive a call asking them to redo their work two days later.

Being preventative rather than reactive by telling your braider to ease up on the tension is the best course of action to take. 

What To Do?

Have an open dialogue with your hairdresser the next time you go for braiding.

While relaxing in the salon chair, if you notice that your braids are feeling too tight, do not be afraid to speak out. 


If you have a particularly sensitive scalp, you may warn them in advance so they keep it loose. 

A stylist is not the right fit if they are unwilling to adjust their methods to accommodate your needs. 

Be Sure To Pick The Right Hairstyle

The tightness of braids can be alleviated in a number of ways, but letting your hair down is one of the simplest.

right hairstyle

If you wear your braids in an updo, it may increase the amount of strain on the scalp and the level of stiffness.

You may feel tempted to toss your hair into a pineapple to maintain your crisp roots, but stop.   

What To Do?

Go slow. Take your time to adjust to your new braids.

If you want to be on the safe side, do not mess with your braids until the roots have relaxed.

Go Take A Shower

A quick shower may be just what you need to ease the discomfort caused by stiff braids. 

This is beneficial for both your health and your hair. 

What To Do?

You can take a cold or warm shower.

Cold water showers provide rapid relief, while warm water showers open cuticles, resulting in softer, more manageable hair. 

Make Use Of A Tension Spray

tension spray

You can use a tension spray to loosen up your braids.

This popular product for hair care helps prevent frizz and dryness while protecting your woven masterpiece. 

What To Do?

Opt for sprays with slanted nozzles that may reach the roots even when the hair is tightly braided in a cornrow, a wig, a weave, or a box braid. 


Do not go overboard when using the spray, and only limit yourself to a thin layer to avoid product buildup in your hair.

Put Your Money On A Leave-In Conditioner

Although tension sprays are great, you may need an alternative sometimes. Try a leave-in conditioner in those situations! 

Leave-in conditioners help to moisturize your braids without weight them down. 

What to Do?

Opt for a high-quality leave-in conditioner from a reputable brand to use on your braids.

Go with some lightweight offerings designed to nourish your waves, curls, and braids as deeply as possible.

leave in conditioner

Be gentle and use your fingertips to massage the conditioner through your hair to loosen your braids. 

Try A Scalp Massage

Massaging a leave-in conditioner in your hair is a great idea, but you can try other products as well.

You can always use some hair serum for a scalp massage. Or, you can use another good quality oil to help soothe your sore scalp. 

What To Do?

Just take a few drops of your favorite hair serum or oil and massage it into your scalp.

Be gentle and use your fingertips to get rid of tight braids. 

Make Use Of A Pencil

It is more like a hack to manage your stiff braids at home. You do not have to limit yourself to a pencil only, as any cylindrical object would do. 

use stick

What To Do?

Get a pencil or skewer and stick it into the center of your braids. Now, apply gentle pressure to loosen them a little.

Be sure to handle your braids carefully, one at a time. 

Apply Warm Water To Your Hair

If you are not up for a shower, you may still benefit from warm water in other ways.

It truly helps minimize the discomfort caused by your stiff braids. 

What To Do?

Soak a washcloth in lukewarm water and apply it to your head. Now, gently massage your scalp using the cloth.

Do not forget to get rid of any moisture. You can use any microfiber towel to pat dry your mane. 

Take Your Braids Off

When nothing else works, and the soreness is getting out of hand, you may have to remove your braids.

It is understandable to consider the time and effort put into your look. But, know it is more important to have a mane that makes you feel comfortable.

take your braids off

The last thing you want is to develop traction alopecia for not taking any action to loosen up your braids.

Remember, traction alopecia is short-term but can become long-term if hairstyling practices are not altered.

Fact: Tight braids worn for too long can trigger traction alopecia, which can be hard to reverse after a while. 

Why Should You Never Ignore Your Stiff Braids?

Braids and other protective styles are usually very low maintenance and you can wear them in many different ways. 

There are some things you should never, ever put up with. One of these is wearing braids that are overly tight!

Leaving your stiff braids unresolved can lead to a variety of problems ranging from being somewhat unpleasant to downright worrying. 

Tight Braids Can Damage Hair 

The goal of using a protective hairstyle is to keep your hair from tangling, breaking, or shedding at the ends.

tighter hair braids

Too-tight braids are unproductive since they can cause moderate to severe breaking in the hair, thus defeating the very purpose of wearing them. 

Tight Braids Can Trigger A Migraine 

Experts have found that so many factors can increase the chances of having a migraine attack.

Some of them include loud noise, bright lights, stress, an unhealthy diet, and tight braids. So avoid them! 

Tight Braids Can Cause Infected Follicles

Leaving tight braids in for long can result in bumps on your neck and close to your hairline. 

It may be due to a condition called folliculitis, which is the inflammation of hair follicles and can become serious.

Fact: Knotless braids are probably the most popular these days, but a large majority of people also turn to accessorized feed-in braids. 


Braids are wonderful and look stunning when done correctly. But, are you one of those people who get their hair braided and ask right away, “Why are my braids stiff?” 

Of course, it may have something to do with the installation process, but other factors can have a role to play.

Whatever the case, do not ignore the issue, and be sure to take steps to loosen your braids to prevent serious consequences.

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