"Plait" is just a fancy word for "braid." And just like braids, there are many different ways to plait one's hair. But why bother plaiting hair at all? The simple answer is, to preserve all that hard work I invested detangling hair in the first place!
In preparation for tomorrow's free hair, I did my normal routine of taking Boo's hair out and letting it sit with coconut oil before her bath tonight. However, because I knew she was going to have free hair for the next week (which is more likely to lose moisture than if set in a braids or twists), I opted to remove her style early this morning and put the coconut oil in then, thus giving her the whole day (including nap) to allow the oil to penetrate her hair.
I washed as usual, added some jojoba oil after the wash to condition her scalp, and then detangled with a good detangling, leave-in conditioner. Normally at this point I would part her hair for the style, add a moisturizing product, and then put her hair in twists for the night. But because she's going to have free hair and I'll be using a different product, I didn't worry about parts tonight. I just grabbed sections of hair at will and twisted (without product) in preparation for tomorrow.
Now, down to the nitty-gritty. The reason that I put Boo's hair in twists at nights is because it's the only way to preserve all the hard work I put into detangling her hair in the first place. Her style does not get set immediately and if I just sent her to bed with freshly detangled hair without plaiting it first, it would be knotted and matted by morning and I'd have to detangle all over again. Plaiting the hair at night makes for a worry-free morning of styling. Yes, I twist instead of braid, but in this case it's pretty much the same concept.
Even though she's going to have free hair for the week, the curling product has not yet been added, so technically it has not been styled. Thus, I plait it. Yes, I could have probably added product this evening and had her sleep on her curls. But we're going to a party tomorrow and I'd like for her hair to look as fresh as possible for the event. So we're going to wait. Plaiting her hair will make it just as easy to set her style tomorrow as it would have been if I had chosen to do it tonight.
Plaiting is also something that is not exclusive to natural hair. In fact, most people with longer hair are encouraged to plait their hair before sleeping; not only will it help keep the hair from becoming knotted at night, it will also help prevent breakage from rolling over and sleeping on the hair. I sleep with my hair braided at night for this very reason. I've had hair down to my waist at several times in my life and the best way to keep it healthy and growing without breakage was to sleep with it either in a long braid or up in a bun. After Boo's style is set, her hair doesn't need to be plaited for the rest of the week because, well, it's already plaited in a nice hairstyle!