Want to know if it’s time for a trim? Finding out may be as simple as braiding your hair. That’s right, a few simple braids (also called plaits) can let you know when it’s time to head to the salon for a professional trim. And for those of you who are skilled DIY-ers, taking notice of this simple hair hack can help you better maintain the health of your hair as well as plan future trim visits.
What’s The Trick?
First, let’s start with one hair health principle: your braids should be a consistent length all the way through. That means that if your braid is 2 cm in diameter at the roots, it should continue to have that same thickness all the way down your braid. If ever you find your braid tapering off, or getting thinner at the ends, that’s a tell-tale sign that it’s time for a trim.
Let’s take a look at the graphic below:
Why Size Matters
Thinner ends mean that you likely have split ends. It also means that ends of your healthy hair are somewhere below your trim line. The split ends will need to be cut evenly to reveal the healthy hair below and prevent further damage. If you don’t get rid of the split ends before it’s too late, the breakage will continue up the hair shaft all the way to the roots. This constant breakage doesn’t stop with new growth either. For as long as you neglect your trims, you will consistently have split ends all throughout the hair shaft.
How Use Your Braids to Determine Health
If it’s been a while since your last salon visit, or if you simply want to check out of curiosity, you can use the following steps to determine whether or not you’ll need a trim soon. If you find out you do, schedule a visit to your local natural hair salon. Alternatively, if you’re 1000% confident you can trim your hair yourself, go for it to help keep your hair healthy.
How To Find Out If You Need A Trim (The Plait Test)
- Part a section of hair no wider than 1 square inch
- Braid (or twist) the entire section of hair, braiding as far down as possible
- Once you can’t braid/twist anymore, leave the remaining ends out for examination
- Examine the braid or twist for thinner ends
- Repeat with 2 to 5 more sections to determine the extent of the hair damage around your head
After trying this on several sections throughout your head (be sure to test more than just one area), you should be able to discern how soon you’ll need another trim. If it looks like you have less than ¼ inch of damaged hair, you may be able to get away with a light hair dusting.
Let’s use the picture below as an example. Where should this hair model cut her hair? Submit your answer in the poll below.
In the end, where you cut your hair is entirely up to you. However, most beauty specialists will agree that you should definitely cut your hair above point A.
We know. We know. But here’s why:
- Point B still has some damaged ends. Notice the gaps between sections of hair and how much thinner it is at Point B than it is at Point A.
- Point C shows a lot of damage right in the middle of Point B and Point C. If you cut your hair here, you’re leaving a lot of split ends behind.
- Point D on the diagram basically ignores all the damage above it. It only addresses the stragglers and more than 70% of the damage is still very much there.
It’s more than okay to let go of the hair that could actually be holding your natural hair journey back. The sooner you let go of the bad, the sooner you’ll feel better and you’ll be reacquainted with beautiful, curly, healthy hair.