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When it comes to protective styles for your client, often times braids are the go-to. From cornrows to stitch braids, knotless braids and updos, there’s a braid out there to suit almost any occasion. Even if you’ve been braiding for a long time, you might be applying too much tension when weaving the strands together. And if that’s the case, there are a few things you need to know. 

We’re here to help you understand why it’s crucial to avoid putting too much tension on your client’s. In this article we will break down the why and discuss what other techniques are better alternatives for achieving a clean result. 

Causes of Too Much Tension in Braiding 

Too much tension while braiding hair is something that should always be avoided. Even if you just want to achieve the perfect braid, putting too much strain on your client’s hair can cause severe and long-term damage. Here are some of the main culprits of applying too much tension: 

  • Braiding too tightly - It’s easy to get carried away and pull too tightly on each strand while braiding. This can lead to weakening, breakage, and even scalp pain. 

  • Failing to detangle - Before you start any type of hair styling, it’s important to make sure each strand is free from knots that can cause the braid to pull at your hair. 

  • Not using a moisturizer - Dryness undermines your strands' elasticity, meaning it’ll be more prone to over-manipulation and breakage if not taken care of properly. Make sure you apply a light oil moisturizer before braiding your hair. 

By being mindful about where the tension lies, you’ll be able to braid your hair with minimal stress and damage for optimal results every time. 

Hair-Loss and Breakage Risks 

If you braid hair too you could be looking at a whole host of problems. Too much tension can cause hair loss, breakage and shedding, leading to damaged, unhealthy hair. Just think of it like a rubber band: if you stretch it too far, it will snap. Same idea applies to your clients' hair! 

The good news is that avoiding excessive tension when braiding is actually quite simple. Just check in with your client throughout the process, making sure to adjust the grip on their strands and to be conscious about how much pressure you're applying. 

If you need more guidance than that—it is always a good idea to ask another stylist to take a look and adjust your technique accordingly. You can’t go wrong with a second set of professional eyes. 

Painful Side Effects for Your Client 

Another crucial reason why you should avoid applying too much tension when braiding hair is the pain that it can cause for your client. If you pull too tightly, not only will it be uncomfortable for the person sitting in your chair, but it can also lead to some serious long-term side effects. 

The main issue is that you're putting a lot of unnecessary stress on their scalp and hair follicles, which can weaken their roots and lead to breakage. Not only that, but applying too much tension can cause lasting trauma to the scalp—you may have heard this referred to as traction alopecia. When you pull the hair too tight, it causes strain on the follicles and can disrupt natural hair growth patterns. 

So, what should you do instead? It's important to practice using gentle pressure when braiding, so that your client isn't feeling any pain. This means dividing up sections of hair slowly and methodically instead of trying to speed through the process—you'll get faster with practice, trust us! Instead of tugging at the roots of their hair to secure it in place, find alternative ways to secure without compromising the health of their scalp. 

How to Avoid Applying Too Much Tension 

Braiding hair will always be a go-to style for many of your clients. The need for speed can cause a stylist to add pressure to get finished with each client and be able to move on to the next.  But one of the main  things you want to avoid is applying too much tension. Here is why:

Understand Hair's Elasticity 

Hair elasticity is a measure of how much force it takes for hair to break or stretch. Knowing that there is an ideal level of tension for your particular type of hair will help you determine when too much tension is being applied during a braid. To figure this out, experts suggest do a strand test—gently stretch a small strand of your client’s hair and measure the amount of force required for it to break. This will give you an idea of how much tension each individual strand can take before it snaps, so you'll know what amount qualifies as too much! Also, keep in mind that using the right moisture based products will aid in protecting and extending the hair's elastic ability.

Use Hair Ties When Styling Braids That Won't Tighten Over Time 

We all love a high bun or straight-back ponytail. After styling your client’s braids either up or down, always remember to gently tug and loosen all the braid around the perimeter of the head. Using this method will release pressure and lessen the likelihood of discomfort and scalp irritation. Using good quality elastic hair ties will also make sure that the connection between each braid section doesn’t become tighter over time. Try to use lightweight materials like fabric-covered elastics that are gentle on hair, otherwise they might cause breakage if they’re too tight or if they keep getting tighter over time. The wrong type of elastic could end up doing more damage than none at all! 

Don't Pull Too Hard 

When braiding, tension should be applied in moderation and carefully monitored during the styling process. With each section, grip firmly but not tightly and never pull your strands too hard; this could weaken or damage them in the long run. To make sure you’re not applying excess pressure, 

Benefits of Light Tension Braiding 

Let’s now shift to and there are a few good reasons why reducing tension will benefit your client’s hair. 

Light-tension braiding offers several benefits, including: 

Clean and Neat Appearance

Applying too many synthetic hair fibers to each section of strands will cause bad weight distribution, heavy braids and the strands may shift from where they were placed initially. This can lead to an uneven braid or other undesirable results. By using less braiding hair and lighter tension when braiding, you'll ensure that your braid looks neat and consistent throughout. 

Eliminating Damage to Hair 

Applying too much pressure can also cause damage hair follicles, leading to breakage and split ends. If you want to keep your client’s hair healthy and strong, using light tension is key — especially if they are planning on wearing protective styles for an extended period of time. 

More Comfortable Braids 

Braids done with light tension will be more comfortable than those done with too much tension. There's no need to pull the scalp or press too hard against the scalp — just be gentle and precise with each individual strand of hair as you braid. Ultimately, this will make the process easier and better for both you and your client/friend/family member! 

Best Practices for Braiding Hair 

When it comes to braiding hair, you know how important it is to not apply too much tension. But why exactly? Here are some crucial reasons why you should avoid applying too much tension when braiding: 

Hair Damage 

Most of us believe the tighter the grip the longer your braids will stay. This myth has damaging results. When braiding with too much tension, you’re at high risk of causing scalp and hair damage. Too much tension can cause scalp abrasions, lead to breakage and even cause balding in the long-term. It’s important to be gentle. Always remember to check your posture, relax your shoulders, fingers and hands. Make sure that your braids aren’t overly tight to ensure the health of you or your client's hair. 

Poor Braiding 

Results Applying too much tension when braiding can cause damage to the braid itself. Resulting in stiff, hard to style or even bumpy looking braids. Continuing this practice can also cause irreparable damage to the stylists neck, back and shoulder pain, stiffness and stress with increased risk of injury. To ensure a neat and polished braid, make sure that the tension applied is just right—not too tight or too loose. 

Uncomfortable Style 

Finally, too much tension while braiding can make wearing a braid style rather uncomfortable. Not only can it tug on your client’s scalp while making it difficult to move around freely, but it can also leave behind headaches and painful red welts on their  scalp when left in for an extended period of time. To keep both their hair and scalp safe as well as maintain comfort while wearing a style, bear in mind not to pull on the hair with excessive force. 


Whether you're a professional hairstylist or someone who loves to braid their own hair, excessive tension is something to be aware of and consciously avoid when braiding hair. That can help you maintain a healthy hairline, beautifully shaped and well-positioned braids, and healthy hair overall. By taking into consideration the scalp and hair, the hairdo you create can be a beautiful and ultimately safe hairstyle. Braiding with the appropriate tension is an important part of taking care of natural hair and not putting it under unnecessary stress. At the end of the day, the key to successful braids is to apply the right amount of tension and still make the results look flawless.

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