Hair Braiding in the Bahamas and Caribbean
Here's what you need to know about getting your hair braided on your next cruise or Caribbean vacation.
If you go on a Caribbean cruise or vacation, you're sure to have plenty of opportunities to get your hair - or your daughter's hair - braided. This can be a memorable experience and the braids are fun looking. Some cruise ships or resorts have these services available in their salon or spa, or even on deck. Even if they don't, you're sure to get plenty of offers in the Bahamas or at a Caribbean island port of call. Here's what you should know before you commit.
This photo is my own. (c)Stephen Johnson.
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Hair braiding Tips and Information - Know what to expect when you get your hair braided on your next vacation.
1. Before committing to getting braids, be sure the setting and combs used are clean. Several vendors in the Nassau straw market asked one of our clients if her daughter wanted hair braids. When they agreed, the lady who did the braids took our clients to a salon that was a couple of blocks from the straw market. This type of situation makes it hard to know exactly what you're getting into in advance.
2.) You'll have more control over the setting if you go into a salon and look the situation over, rather than waiting for someone to approach you on the street. Ask for a salon recommendation at a tourist information desk near the port or walk along the main shopping district to see if you find a salon sign - remember that they may be in a second story, above a gift shop.
2. Hair braiding is different than hair wrapping. With braiding, several small tight braids are put into the hair. This can go the full length of the hair or may just be near the crown. Hair wrapping is when colored threads are wrapped around a strand (or strands) of hair.
3. The braids are small and tight and the process can be painful. My client's twelve year old daughter did just fine but two other little girls at the same shop were crying because it hurt.
4. You should also be aware that getting braids can take some time - braids that go over the crown of the head (like the ones in the photo below) can take over an hour. Braids that go the full length of the hair can take even longer - three hours is not uncommon. Be sure that this is how you want to spend you time at the Port of Call.
5. Negotiate the total price prior to agreeing to the services, otherwise, you might be surprised and run embarrassingly short of funds when you hear the final cost when the work is done. Our client paid $2 per braid in Nassau; there were 32 braids for a total cost of $64.00USD + tip. You might be able to set a fixed price, rather than a price per braid.
6. It is customary to provide a tip, if the braids are done well.
7. Consider photos and cruise formal nights when deciding whether to get your hair braided. You may want to select beads that match your formal wear.
8. Braids can last from weeks to months, depending on the type of hair. Just shampoo and rinse to take care of them. You can smooth any stray hairs with gel or a similar hair product.
9. A few people don't adjust well to the feel of tight braids up close to their heads. Our doctor told us that she took her braids out within a couple of hours because it just felt so strange to her. Be prepared for this possible reaction when getting a young girl's hair done. Otherwise, you could end up as a frustrated parent who resents spending the money on a hairstyle that gets undone right away. This type of reaction is the exception - most people enjoy their braids.
10. Finally - and maybe most importantly - your hair braids will expose skin on your scalp that usually never sees direct sunlight. You need to put sunscreen on your head to avoid getting a miserable sunburn. The spray application sunscreens work great for this.
If you do leave your braids in for several weeks, you may be concerned about the amount of hair that seems to be falling out when you remove the braids. Don't worry - the braids did not cause the hairs to break. You normally lose some hair every day but the braids keep these hairs in place until you unbraid the hair. This can create some tangles. The easiest way to handle this is to unbraid the hair and then shower, using a lot of hair conditioner - this will make it much easier to comb through the hair. Depending on the texture of your hair, you may want to take a second shower and condition the hair again after you've combed through and removed most of the loose hair, if you find the hair drying and trying to tangle while you work. TIP: Cutting the little rubber bands will be easier than trying to unwind each rubber band separately.
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We'd love to hear about your hairbraiding adventures.