Braid Spray is the generic term for a variety of spray-on hair conditioners developed in the Black community that can be used to care for and maintain synthetic hair.
In the American Girl Fandom it is used for maintenance and sometimes repair of doll hair.
Information and Use in the Black Hair Community
Braid spray or braid sheen spray is a gentle spray-on conditioner, mostly made of water with leave in conditioners such as herbs, hair oils, and/or synthetic conditioners included.
The product was developed in the Black hair care community to maintain elaborate cultural braided hairstyles. As these hairstyles are complicated to put up and intended to be worn as protective styles, styles are worn for extended periods of time, generally up to six to eight weeks. It is not easy or prudent to remove styles or extensions for moisturizing or typical methods of hair washing (though hair can be washed lightly). Because African-textured hair is often curly, coily, or kinky, the natural oil the scalp produces doesn't smoothly travel down to the ends of the hair, sometimes leaving it dry and brittle. Dry hair can break, mat, knot, unwillingly dread, or tangle without regular moisture and care. Braid spray is designed to keep the hair style neat and conditioned without needing to take styles down and is simply sprayed onto the braids and scalp and massaged in without rinsing out. Used with spray-in shampoo, the hair is healthy and well cared for and remains protected.
For American Girl Doll Hair Maintenance
American Girl recommends that a doll's hair be damp when brushed or styled to prevent breakage and to use water in a spray bottle. However, doll hair is made of the same hair that is often used for hair extensions or braided styles--a high-quality Kanekalon or synthetic modacrylic blend. Therefore, the same spray can be used on doll hair to maintain it and keep it moisturized or restore moisture. It only takes a few sprays to moisturize a doll's hair and while the product may feel slightly oily or greasy, it should not be enough to cause any issues with doll hair. If hair feels extremely oily or greasy, too much product has been sprayed on and should be rinsed and/or brushed out.
As with water, it is important to prevent the spray droplets from going into a doll's eyes to avoid rusting. An average twelve-ounce bottle can last several months regardless of the amount of dolls, as amounts used should be small.
Locating Braid Spray
A person purchasing in person should look in what is commonly called the "ethnic" section of a hair care section in various stores that sell hair care products or at a Black beauty supply store which carries various spray-in conditioners. The cost of a bottle can range widely depending on brand and location, but most braid sprays can be purchased for between $4 and $10. Brands include African Best, African Royal, and African Pride.