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At-home beauty: Long Island salon tips for caring for braids, natural hair

Nawa “Kandee” Kamate, the manager of K&D African Hair Braiding in Bay Shore, says many of her customers prepared for quarantine. If you didn't, here's how to care for your hair at home.  Credit: Nawa “Kandee” Kamate

Nawa “Kandee” Kamate, the manager of K&D African Hair Braiding in Bay Shore, says many of her customers prepared for quarantine. “A lot of people came in to get protective styles before everything shut down like box braids and kinky twists," (she’s wearing kinky Havana twists now), "you can add extensions to those styles which promotes longevity.”

Ah, but what if you didn’t make it into the salon? “Well the upside is that everyone has to stay home, so no one is seeing you,” she says, laughing. “But really at a time like this you should be focused on hair care. And be proud of it beyond styling. Everyone with natural hair should be doing this. Take a break from braids, whether your hair is straight, wavy, full, thin, prone to breakage, concentrate on self-care."

Kamate’s how-tos include a serious kitchen raid for effective moisturizing treatments. “Get comfortable with fruits and vegetables — anything that’s good for your body to eat is probably good on your hair and scalp and can help promote hair growth, regenerate hair follicles and most important for black women with dry, coarse hair, retain moisture content.”

One of her home recipes for people who do n-o-t have braids is as follows: A quarter of a butternut squash and one small sweet potato chopped and put in a food processor; about a quarter cup of coconut or avocado oil (she says, “you don’t have to be super specific” with oil measurement). Add any other type of oil you wish, says Kamate, including olive oil, vegetable glycerin and castor oil, to achieve a consistency that you’re comfortable with and process again. “Part your hair into four to six sections and slather it on,” she says. Massage into your scalp and hair and anything left, she says, use as a skin mask.

Still have your braids? Kamate has a homemade braid spray recipe that clarifies the scalp, cleanses and adds shine. “In a spray applicator bottle of your choice, mix one-part apple cider vinegar to three parts distilled or purified water.” Gently massage into scalp, and then rinse with a damp, warm washcloth.

Follow up with braid oil treatment (you can use this on non-braided hair too).

“You can add any one of these three oils to the formula as a base: vegetable glycerin which seals and locks in moisture, castor or avocado oil. Then add four-to-eight drops of any essential oil such as lavender, rosemary and sage. Massage into your scalp, make sure to get the edge line and center, it also helps with itchiness and helps promote growth,” says Kamate. “It’s good to have around at all times, not just now.”

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