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For years, crochet braids have been a go-to style for many trying to create a new look or transition out of their relaxer or current hairstyling method. Quick and easy, crocheting is a weaving process that doesn't require much manipulation of your natural hair other than braiding.
If the term "crochet" has you curious about it being similar to the process used to create sweaters and blankets, you're definitely on to something. The word, which derives from the method used to add in the extensions, describes a very similar process. When creating the style, a latch hook (which resembles a crochet hook) is required to attach extension hair, and believe it or not, a crochet hook can also do the trick. In fact, it's actually the term "braids" that should bring about the most confusion since most women who wear this style do so with loose extension hair with the finished product typically resembling loose waves or curls. The only braiding required of this style happens when creating a base for the extensions to be applied.
To gain more clarity on the overall process and rules for proper care, we reached out to hair expert Robin Groover and Latched And Hooked CEO Tiffini Gatlin for advice. So whether you've been thinking about trying crochet braids and don't know exactly where to start or you're just trying to learn more about the process, this article has all the info you need to get started. Ahead, check out everything you need to know about crochet braids.
Meet the Expert
Tiffini Gatlin is the founder and CEO of Latched and Hooked Beauty, the first producer of pre-curled and looped crochet curls.
Robin Groover is a hairstylist and Brand Educator for African Pride.
What Are Crochet Braids?
Crochet braiding, sometimes referred to as latch hook braiding, is a method of hair styling that's typically used to create length or simply protect one's natural hair. The style is held together by a base of cornrowed hair to which hair extensions are then attached. Gatlin explains it best, saying "crochet is the technique used where you take a crochet sewing hook (typical for crocheting sweaters, scarves,blankets etc.) and attach either a pre-looped hair extension or bulk hair extension onto the hook of the crochet tool."
Groover explains that "textured extensions are attached to the cornrows using a ‘looping method’. This method allows you to achieve this style in a fraction of the time it would take for traditional braids."
The Benefits of Crochet Braids
Crochet braids are typically easy to maintain and provide a great way to protect your hair from excessive styling and heat damage. This method could prove to be especially helpful to those transitioning out of their relaxers. Groover shares some of the many benefits, saying, "they are quick to install, easy to manage, and generally inexpensive." This holds particularly true when comparing them to human hair extensions. Gatlin adds that the style is "breathable while leaving your scalp accessible for easy cleaning." She shares that the process is easy to do at home and tens to be more cost-effective than traditional hair extension services.
Popularity of Crochet Braids
This is a great protective style option for all hair textures and lengths. This includes relaxed, natural, pressed, and transitioning hair. Transitioners, especially, may appreciate this style since it gives you a break from handling two different textures as the hair grows. It can also give relaxed women an idea of how they'd look with natural hair if that's an eventual goal.
One of the reasons crochet braids are so popular is due to the relative ease of installation. It's also an inexpensive styling option because it requires fewer packs of hair than box braids. Still, be prepared to spend several hours creating this look.
There is no single method of cornrowing that fits this technique best. Many women begin with a simple cornrowed base, directed straight back, but others use more of a circular pattern. Links to tutorials below show a range of results and methods since some women prefer a no-knot look, while others may desire a straighter look.
How To Do Crochet Braids
While sharing their respective expertise on crochet braids, Gatlin and Groover were kind enough to also give us the low down on how the installation process works. To get the most out of your crochet braids, Groover explains that it is of the utmost importance to "start out with clean, dry hair that is tangle-free."
She says you then part the hairline vertically to the nape area. After that, Groover explains that you "begin to cornrow or twist each section and secure it with a small rubber band or hairpin at the ends." To keep your strands moisturized and protected throughout the process Groover recommends using a lightweight oil such as African Pride’s Moisture Miracle 5 Essential Oils.
Once the cornrows are done, you can begin adding the crotchet extensions. "Start by taking your crotchet hook, loop the extension and place it through the braid, then pull down, says Groover. "Then split the hair to the size of the braid or curl desired. Take half of the piece of the curl extension and tie a knot to secure the curl and braid. Repeat the entire length of each cornrow."
Gatlin points out that crochet hairstyles are generally done using synthetic hair extensions "because the texture decreases the chance for slippage versus using human hair." If you prefer to wear your hair on the fuller side, Gatlin suggests braiding more than eight cornrows as your base.
When it comes to choosing extensions, there are several types of hair you can use to create this look. Marley hair is one of the more popular options, while Kanekalon is also a favorite of crochet aficionados. Because this type of extension hair has a kinky texture, some users choose to design curly styles with perm rods or rollers. That said, you can also wear the hair as-is for a more fluffy, fro-like hairstyle.
Gatlin's revolutionary Latched And Hooked brand eliminates the need for excessive styling since it specializes in hair that is "pre-curled to prevent women from burning themselves with hot water while styling the hair." The hair she produces is also non-toxic and ready to wear, making it quick and easy for both newbies and experts to install.
How to Care For Crochet Braids
Groover says that scalp care is essential when caring for your crotchet braid, adding that you should "always be sure to properly cleanse, condition, and protect the scalp with a lightweight oil."
You can also keep your style refreshed with sparing use of a shine spray that helps eliminate frizz. To complete the look, you should finish things off with an edge control product. Groover prefers African Pride’s Olive Miracle Super Hold & Smooth Edges because it's non-greasy and nourishing, yet still effective in slicking down hard-to-hold edges and flyaways.
To extend the look of your style, Gatlin suggests wearing a satin bonnet nightly and says that you should clip any tangles as needed. She also explains that you should minimize "product usage on the hair itself so you don't weigh the hair down" while also cleansing your scalp to reduce product buildup.
Links to Crochet Braid Tutorials
- teeday6 (with twisted extensions)
- TheChicNatural (no rod technique with Marley hair)
- TiffanyNicholsDesign (curls created with perm rods)
- AfricanExport (blowdried hair)
- DrkNlvely (no visible knots)
- Alicia Francisco MSPYT81- Cosmetologist (beehive base)