- Crochet braids and twists are protective hairstyles, where extensions are crocheted into one’s natural hair.
- It takes 90 minutes to three hours to get your hair crocheted in the style you like, which can last anywhere between four to six weeks with regular upkeep.
- Crochet twists and braids don’t damage one’s natural hair and are fairly easy to take down.
Crochet braids and twists are great protective styles for natural girls that give endless room for creative styling. Whether you’re covering up for the winter or just want a break from the usual, we’re here to give you the lowdown on crochet braids as well as a little bit of a history lesson, and best practices for creating your own crochet-based ‘do.
In this article:
- What Are Crochet Braids?
- Pros & Cons of Wearing Crochet Braids & Twists
- Types of Crochet Braid Patterns
- Who Are Crochet Braids Best for?
- How to Install Crochet Braids?
- Washing and Maintaining Crochet Braids & Twists
- How Long Do Crochet Braids Last?
- Removing Crochet Braids & Twists
- How Much Do Crochet Braids & Twists Cost?
What Are Crochet Braids?
Crochet braids (or twists, or locs) are popular protective hairstyles that involve crocheting hair extensions to one’s hair, which are frequently used by people with natural hair. Usually, bulk synthetic hair is used for crochet twists and braids, but human hair can also be used especially if you plan to use heat tools.
While it works by giving your natural hair a break from frequent manipulation, it’s a fun choice because you can still play with color, texture, and length. Often known as a “low-manipulation style,” the big draw for a crochet hairstyle is that your actual hair is usually fully hidden in cornrows that serve as a base for whatever style you choose.
Another reason crochet braids are so popular is that they’re faster and easier to install (a common term for getting braids, twists, etc.) and can be less damaging than traditional box braids or Senegalese twists that rely on individual sections of your hair. So, your hair experiences less stress.
There’s no clear consensus on the origin of crochet braids, but the technique has been traced to the 1990s. Popular crochet-based styles include crochet braids (also known as latch hook braids), crochet twists, crochet faux locs, or even styles where the extensions are left mainly loose to mimic the look of free-flowing tresses.
Pros & Cons of Wearing Crochet Braids & Twists
Crochet braids and twists are a fun way to switch up your style. But if you’re used to traditional braid and twist installs, you might wonder whether it’s a good investment. So, let’s highlight some of the pros and cons to make sure that a crochet hairstyle is right for you.
Crochet Hair Pros
So, let’s quickly talk about the benefits of a crochet-based look:
- Faster install time – even for self-installers or first-timers
- Often cheaper than other protective hairstyles such as weaves
- Less stress on your natural hair because the hair is cornrowed first
- Easier access to your scalp to keep it clean and moisturized as compared to weaves
- Versatile styling options, including textures, lengths, and loose versus a braided, loc’ed or twisted look
- Can be refreshed easily since you simply crochet fresh extensions to replace the older hair
Crochet Hair Cons
Crochet braids or twists are fun and easy to do. But they do have a few drawbacks.
- Shorter lifespan than other protective hairstyles – at most you can squeeze two months out of the hairstyle
- Washing the crocheted hair can also shorten the lifespan of your crochet hairstyle
Types of Crochet Braid Patterns
We can’t stress enough that crochet braids and all variations of crochet-based hairstyles allow for serious versatility. Even when you look through our inspo photos above, you see how diverse the styles can be.
Anything you could do with your natural hair and traditional braids, twists, or locs can be done with crocheted hair. The only difference will be that your natural hair will be cornrowed first and then the extensions woven or “crocheted” through the cornrows. None of your natural hair will be left out.
Who Are Crochet Braids Best For?
Crochet braids are usually considered an option primarily for people with natural hair, but it’s ideal for so many different types of hair. Even for people that relax their hair, crochet braids can work too.
While crochet braids can be less damaging than other protective hairstyles, you’ll always want to confirm the health of your hair before you get this style. Specifically, can your hair be braided down for anywhere from two to eight weeks without experiencing more damage? Or are you the type who needs to wash your hair frequently – like multiple times a week?
If your hair is damaged, the stress of having it cornrowed may be too damaging. And if you wash your hair daily, a crochet braid style is impractical since it won’t last as long.
How to Install Crochet Braids
If you’re a first-timer, crochet braids can be significantly easier to do compared to box braids, Fulani braids, or Senegalese twists. Even though you need to master the crochet technique, you’ll feel less stressed since you don’t need the world’s best cornrow skills to achieve this look.
Step 1: Begin with Clean Hair
Protective styles and dirty hair don’t mix. Crocheting on dirty hair will encourage more dirt, product build-up, and a disgusting takedown when it’s time to remove your crochet braids in a few weeks.
Step 2: Cornrow Your Hair
Some people use intricate patterns for cornrows, but it’s not necessary for crochet braids. If this is your first time, opt for a simple pattern where the braids go straight back from your hairline to the nape of your neck.
A tried and true pattern is a two-into-one braiding pattern. Cornrows are smaller in the front half of your hair with an even set of braids ranging from 10 to 12. Once you pass the earline, begin combining braids, so you have half as many in the back. So, you should have 10 into five or 12 into six when you’ve finished braiding down your hair.
The braids in the front should be thinner to minimize bulk but not too separated so that your parts look more natural when your crochet braids are installed. If you’re concerned about too much strain on your natural hair, you can weave in a bit of loose braiding hair into your natural hair during the cornrow process. When you’re done braiding your hair, you can flat-sew the ends of your cornrows or simply tuck them down.
Step 3: Crocheting the Extensions
After your cornrows are done, it’s time to start crocheting. You have options when it comes to tools, but the most popular options are a crochet needle or a bobby pin. A crochet hook is a latch hook needle and not a true crochet needle. Most beauty supply stores carry them, and they’re fairly inexpensive.
- Start by sliding your needle under the cornrow with the latch closed.
- Take a section of the extension hair and fold it in half so that there’s a loop on the folded end.
- Open the needle latch and slide the looped extension hair into the latch and close it.
- Gently pull the needle out from under the cornrow until about four or five inches (when folded) of the looped hair has been pulled through under the cornrow.
- Open the latch and slide the extension hair off of it before removing the needle.
- Hold the looped hair in one hand and the tail (free end of the extensions) in your other.
- Hold the loop open with your fingers and put the tail through it.
- Twist the loop once flat against the cornrow so that no excess from the tail is stuck in the twist.
- Repeat the twist and loop process at least twice, but some people prefer to do it three times.
- Once you’ve finished twisting and threading the loop pull the tail to tighten and eliminate any excess tail hair from the loop.
- Keep doing this as you work around your head until you’re finished installing the crochet hair. Also, note that using a bobby pin will follow the same above steps.
Step 4: Styling the Crocheted Hair
Styling is going to depend on the hair you picked and the final look you’re hoping to achieve. If you are opting for crochet braids or twists, then create those looks by following the proper steps.
With braids, as you loop an extension through your cornrows, that hair would then be sectioned and braided either the full length or left partially braided for texture. And the same would follow for twists.
For loose crocheted looks, trim the hair to remove scraggly strands. You can also shape the hair with layers, bangs, or even a blunt cut. Depending on the hair and the texture you’re looking to mimic, you may need to use hot water and rollers to set synthetic hair or hot tools for human hair.
How to Wash and Maintain Crochet Braids & Twists?
Washing crochet braids or twists is one of the few areas where this style doesn’t excel as compared to other protective hairstyles. It can be done, but you’ll need to be careful as washing crochet hairstyles can shorten the lifespan of this style.
Maintaining Crochet Hair
The way you maintain crochet braids or twists depends on the hair you used. Synthetic hair like Marley Twists or Kanekalon means that you can’t hop in the shower and wash them as you would your natural hair.
Frequent contact with water can cause the curls or texture to drop. Worse still, you can loosen the knots, which can cause extensions to slip out over time.
Instead, you’ll want to focus on cleansing your scalp. If you used human hair for crochet braids or twists, it’s best to use a co-wash process to wash the hair and be gentle while you do it. Being too rough can loosen the knots.
Caring for Your Crochet Twists & Braids
Even with a protective style, you need to give your scalp some TLC and moisturize your natural hair. To preserve your hairstyle, try a targeted scalp cleanse by using the squeeze bottle method.
This might seem a little time-consuming, but you’re going to mix shampoo and warm water in a squeeze bottle to apply it directly to your scalp. Using the pads of your fingers, gently work the solution into your scalp and your cornrows – but try to avoid over-saturating the extensions.
Next, you’ll rinse out the shampoo mix from your hair and the extensions. If you prefer, you can opt for a co-wash using a leave-in conditioner. You can also spray the leave-in on your extensions.
Above all else, if you wash your hair when it’s in a crochet style, you need to be sure that your hair dries thoroughly. It doesn’t happen often but, it’s possible to experience mildew if your hair doesn’t dry properly. To minimize this risk, use a blow dryer on a medium or low setting and focus on your cornrows.
How Long Do Crochet Braids Last?
Assuming you take care of your crochet braids and follow proper maintenance recommendations, a good crochet braid style can last up to two months or eight weeks. But to ensure that this happens, you need to avoid getting your braids wet and be sure to tie up your hair at night so that they don’t get frizzy.
How to Remove Crochet Braids
Hands down, removing crochet braids is much faster than traditional braids, twists, or faux locs. Removing a crochet hairstyle begins by cutting the crocheted extensions as close to the original knots as possible. But be careful so that you don’t cut your natural cornrowed hair!
Another option that makes the “takedown” process easier is to add an oil like coconut or jojoba to your cornrows once you’ve removed all of the extensions. Let the oil sit for 30 minutes before unraveling your cornrows. This gives you more slip as you work through your cornrows so that they unravel easier. As you work through your hair, any remaining crocheted hair should easily slip out of your natural hair.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Crochet Braids & Twists at the Salon?
This is a great question, but it’s going to depend on a variety of factors. If you do your crochet braids or twists, you’ll only need to pay for the hair, which can be incredibly affordable if you pick synthetic hair. In contrast, a salon install can vary widely based on where you live, the salon, and the complexity of the style you want.
Also, remember that other factors like the length you want and the size of your braids or twists can impact the price. But as a general rule, expect to spend at least $100 for a crochet braid or twist style. And know that some salons may charge more.
Photos via @jassl_, @samiorenelda, Instagram