Box braids are some of the most stylish yet protective hairstyles that will allow you to express your personality. But just like any hairstyles, box braids come with a lot of challenges too. So keep on reading for the cool box braid hairstyles and inspirations that will keep your hair looking great all the time.
What Are Box Braids?
Box braids got its name from the braiding style used where the hair is parted into box-like sections or squared off parts. It is up to you if you want the box-like sections be small, medium or large, but keep in mind that it will be the base of your braids, and dividing them equally will add some polish to your overall hairstyle. Do you know that diamond- and triangle-shaped parts also work for this hairstyle?
Origin of Box Braids
You can trace back this hairstyle back to Egypt as far as 3500 B.C. though African countries also embraced the traditional braiding style some years later. In fact, Africans use their braids to show their social statues and age.
Box braids have been around for many years, but they became more of a hair trend nowadays where celebrities, fashion icons, and modern women sporting the look. Do you still remember the 1993 film “Poetic Justice” starring Janet Jackson? Her chunky braids covered by her newsboy hat became the hairstyle trend back then. Some women even called it as plaits, dookie braids, or even kassamas braids.
Apart from Janet Jackson, Brandy, Zoe Kravitz, Keke Palmer, and Stacey Dash also popularized the box braids—think of long rope-like braids. To get a more 90s vibe, think of wrapping a bandana scarf around your braids or think of slicked down edges at the front.
To make box braids look more modern, think of getting a creative hair color like Solange Knowles always does. Have you noticed that she loves her afro hairstyle, signature blondes, and super long box braids? Back in the day, black hair is associated with box braids, but Beyonce’s box braids in blonde will inspire you to explore different hair color options to show off your personality.
Some fashion icons and celebrities even popularized box braids with hair accessories. Think of wooden beads, shells, colorful hair clips, hair rings and such that will make box braids more personal and creative.
Reasons to Try the Box Braid Hairstyle Now
Box braids will cut down your morning routines dramatically.
Box braids are great for a woman who wants a low-maintenance hairstyle since you don’t have to brush or wash your hair every day. Ideally, you can wash your box braids every two weeks. You can use a spray bottle with shampoo and water to make things easier, then rinse them in the shower and dry your hair.
Box braids might not require much effort to maintain, but still you need to keep your hair clean and nourished. After all, fall season and holidays make all of us busy with work and school, making box braids practical.
They are protective hairstyle to keep your hair healthy.
Box braids will allow you to look fashionable without the damaging hairstyling tools like flat iron, blow dryers, and curling iron. Do you know that some women noticed a positive change in their hair after having box braids?
Since your hair is protected by the box braids, it can grow healthily since you’re not using damaging tools and harsh chemicals. Also, box braids are a stylish and functional hairstyle for women transitioning from straight hair to natural hair. Keep in mind that braids don’t really help your hair grow, but help to lessen the breakage.
Box braids are a fun change.
This is especially true of you have shorter hair for where the way of styling them are limited. Women with bob or pixie haircut can still look great with these braids. If you’re a woman with long, dramatic locks the box braids will let you look more fashionable without the use of heat styling tools.
A great thing, the way of styling them are endless as you can have them in ponytails, loose and flowing, curled ends, or even with other braids. Box braids can dress up any outfit just like an accessory since they can easily be styled. Yes, box braids are especially for women who love trying out new hairstyles.
Box braids are affordable and long lasting.
The price might be different for each hairstylist, but box braids will surely fit your beauty budget. Most of the time, it will take less than five hours for a long hair to be completed, but the result could last around six to eight weeks depending on how you care for your box braids and your hair growth.
Box braids are ideal in the colder months.
Do you know that your hair is climate sensitive, and the change of weather can hinder your hair’s growth and accelerate its breakage rate? Going for box braids are great for giving your hair a break from damaging heat of styling tools and hairstyles that requires pulls, twists, and stretching.
Box braids are a practical hairstyle when travelling.
Most women tend to pack lots of skincare and hair care products when traveling, and with box braids, you don’t have to bring too much of them especially your blow dryer, curlers, and flat iron. Yes you can definitely save room in your luggage by changing your hairstyle. So, consider rocking box braids on your next trip, and you’ll make your packing and travelling easier. This is especially true if you’ll go for a beach vacation as you’ll have a photo ready hair whenever you go in and out of the water.
It will let you spend more time for important things and less time worrying about your hair.
Most women spend lots of time on hair and makeup, and if you wish to get out of the door faster, box braids is the way to go. It will surely save your time when dressing up in the morning, and will let you spend more time on your business presentations, to do lists and such. Yes, wearing box braids this season will let you spend more time doing the things you actually want to do.
How to Make Box Braids
Compared to cornrows, box braids are not attached to the scalp and could be styled in different ways. A great thing, box braids can be a protective hairstyle when created using hair extensions while adding thickness and fullness to your natural hair. Do you know that the installation process of box braids can take about five hours even if two people are working on your hair?
Without Hair Extensions
If you already have that thick, long hair, then you can rock box braids without extensions. Since you’ll use your natural hair, you need to make sure it’s ready and healthy for braids. To nourish your hair, opt for sulfate free shampoo and conditioner, along with hair serums, hair creams, and hair oils.
As a basic preparation, you should get your hair tools ready. Think of hair extensions, large hair clips, wide toothed comb, rat tail comb, rubber bands or boiling hot water.
All you have to do is to divide your hair equally in four, securing each section with a hair clip. On the section you want to work with, create a vertical and horizontal part, taking the hair in the sections and spitting in into three divisions. Start braiding your hair reaching the ends until the overall box braids are done, and secure your braids with elastic bands.
Do you know that you can get around 8 to 100 box braids depending on how large or small your partings? If you want finer braids, then make your partings smaller, though it will take longer time to complete.
With Hair Extensions
If you got that thin, brittle hair, then hair extensions are great for making your natural hair full and voluminous. With box braids, you’ll need synthetic Kanekalon hair extension or even natural hair extension. While natural hair extensions are more versatile, they might not last that long, and are costly compared to synthetic hair extensions. Also, you cannot use flat iron or curlers with synthetic hair so you’ll limit your styling tricks on your box braids.
The process on braiding is almost the same when it comes to using hair extensions. You still need to divide your hair into four divisions and secure them with a hair clip. On the division that you’ll work with, create vertical and horizontal partings too.
This time, you’ll introduce the hair extension into the braids by grabbing the pieces of braiding hair and wrapping it around the hair inside the section to create a base for your braids. You have to weave your natural hair and hair extension with your fingers, then, divide both of them into three divisions. Start braiding but don’t forget to wrap the strands around the hair and create a knot to secure the braids.
Simply repeat the braiding process till you finish the rest of your hair. To seal the ends, you have to dip your hair extension in boiling water. If you want to get some curls, think of using sponge rollers before dipping them in boiling water.
Things You Should Know Before making Box Braids
Communicate with your hairstylist for the desired style and size of your box braids.
Even though you bring photo of your desired box braid hairstyle, the process of braiding can change everything. Some women got box braids that were too long and too thin, while some got uneven length of braids. Instead of getting your box braids fixed after they are done, it’s better to have a clear discussion with your hairstylist first to avoid mishaps and disappointments.
You should not braid your hair too tight.
Regardless whether you use hair extension or not, braiding your hair too tight will only damage your roots and can even lead to traction alopecia, thinning of hair, or even permanent damage to your hairline. You can even experience with pain or headaches, along with bumps on your hairline if your box braids are too tight.
It’s true that your braids should be sleek and tight to the roots for them to last longer, but that doesn’t mean your hairstyle should feel uncomfortable too. As a great hack, you can actually make the base a bit looser and thicker since your hair is more fragile and visible there. Also, you should not wear your hair tied up all the time since it adds tension to your hairline. After all, box braids should be a protective hairstyle, not a damaging one.
Do you know that scalp irritation is usually the result of too much tension on your hair roots? In fact, too much pressure on the roots will cause the scalp to become dry. If you usually get dandruff after sporting box braids, it could be because of your lack of hygiene, or even too much tension on your scalp.
Why? According to a dermatologist, your scalp can get inflamed because of the tension of your tight braids, and as a part of the healing process your scalp will slough more quickly, leading to more dandruff.
You shouldn’t trim the stray hair in your braids.
Most of the time, women or even hairstylists trim the hair sticking out of a braid to get the perfect box braids. However, it will only give you a messy haircut that you’ll need to fix in the end after you remove your braids. To fix the stray hair, apply some hair creams or blow-dry your hair that will lessen the frizz.
If you used hair extension to add fullness and length to your braids, you can cut off the ends of your hair. But if you don’t know the length of your natural hair, it’s better to be safe by trimming only a few inches of the braid off, or else you’ll need more time to fix your hair after you remove your box braids.
You should not leave box braids for more than six weeks.
Box braids can be a protective hairstyle depending on how you care for them, but that doesn’t mean they could last forever. According to a hairstylist, keeping your box braids longer than six weeks can stretch and damage your natural hair. If you got that heavy and tiny braids yet you keep them for too long, you’ll accelerate the damage of your hair.
Apart from it, you can get some mildew smell even though you wash your braids every other day. Once you remove your box braids, take a break of at least two weeks before trying out another braid style. Also, expect a decent amount of shedding when you washed your hair after removing your box braids.
Washing box braids can be challenging and super tiring.
Do you know that box braids are super heavy when wet, regardless whether you use synthetic hair extension or not? According to some women, you won’t even realize how heavy they are until you actually have them. Apart from it, it took forever for them to get dry. That’s the reason why some women use damp towel and witch hazel astringent instead of a traditional shower of using cold water and shampoo.
Avoid chemical based hair products while your box braids are on.
To keep your hair healthy and nourished, think of naturally derived oils like olive oil, shea butter, coconut oil and almond oil over mineral oils that can be found in most hair products. You can also use natural leave-on conditioner to lessen the greasy finish of oils.
Some ingredients in hair products like coconut, shea butter, aloe vera, and willow bark extract can relieve itching, along with peppermint, spearmint, and tea tree oil if your braids start to feel uncomfortable. After all, your grooming should be organic and sustainable.
Box braids are low-maintenance but still require proper care.
Apart from washing your hair and applying natural hair care products, you should be careful when styling them too. Do you know that bun, ponytail or updo add more tension to your roots? Yes, the weight of your hair will put too much pressure on your scalp, and it’s the same if you use too much hair extension.
Also, leaving your box braids tightly pulled while sleeping will further damage your hair. Pros recommended swapping your cotton pillows with silk pillows or wrap your hair in a silk scarf instead.
If you don’t take care of your hair while it’s in box braids, then you’ll do more harm than good to your hair. This is especially true if you use hair extension as your natural hair still needs care. If you’ll fail to take care of your hair, then expect dry and weak hair that can easily break off when you remove your braids.
The process of removing your braids can be tedious.
If you’ve got super long box braids, then you’ll need a hand on removing them. Simply start at the ends of the braids and loosen your strands with a comb. If you used synthetic hair, then you have to cut the ends, especially if you bonded them. In fact, taking out your braids can take about as long as the braiding process. Experts recommended spraying your hair with a mixture of water and hair oil to soften up the braids.
How to Style Your Box Braids
Box braids are stylish themselves, but once you created them, they can be a good base for more creative hairstyles. A great thing, women with very long hair and short hair will look great in box braids. Yes, there are endless ways to design your braids whether you’re heading to a Sunday brunch with friends, romantic dinner date, formal evening affair, or a special night out.
You can make things more creative by braiding your box braids. Yes, you can actually incorporate the trendy French braid, Dutch braid or fishtail braid to your box braids. After all, the parted sections of your box braids will make the other braiding process effortless.
If you wish an effortlessly cool look, think of ponytails, updos, and half updos. Box braids will look great in ponytails like pigtail, side ponytail, high ponytail, or even low ponytail. Also, there are lots of updo hairstyles you can create with your box braids that can also work to more formal occasions.
Do you know that you can also play with the size and thickness of your box braids? Feel free to co micro or oversized on your braids that will give you bold style statement. Also, you don’t have to follow the box-like pattern when it comes to box braids as you can think of diamond, triangle and such to get a more creative look.
If you wish to channel your inner Greek goddess, think of having your box braids flow down till your waist. To make things edgier, go for unusual hair color and you’ll be on top of the fashion game. Or, try a shaved undercut on the other side of your head and box braids on the top for a punk look. However, if you already got those statement-making braids, complement the look with some nude makeup and a simple outfit.
How to Care of Your Box Braids?
For hygienic reasons, you should always clean your scalp and hair with clarifying shampoo and conditioner while your box braids are on. Apart from it, you should keep your hair healthy and moisturized with hair oils, hair serums, hair creams, and such. According to experts, it’s better to use water based hair products and avoid ones that will cause build up.
It’s up to you whether you’ll use dry shampoo or a traditional shampoo, but you can also think of witch hazel astringent to clean your hair and relieve itchiness. When sleeping, wrap your braids in a silk or satin scarf to lessen the frizz and friction. Or, simply use a satin or silk pillowcase instead of cotton one that will be gentle to your hair.
Indeed, box braids are a great hairstyle to protect your hair and give it a break in between styles, so think of getting the look and you’ll have the most stylish statement this fall season.