We’ve got the lowdown on making this protective style go the distance…
A staple for some of our personal hair heroes like Zoe Kravitz and Ciara, this A-list fave offers a high-impact, low maintenance look. Despite the relatively tame after-care needs, creating these intricate plaits does take some serious practice and patience. So, before you commit, it’s worth asking: how long do box braids last?
How long do box braids last?
Elena Diaz, All Things Hair resident hairstylist reveals, “box braids can last from 4 to 6 weeks. 6 weeks is the most time I would recommend keeping them in your hair and two months is the absolute max I would suggest leaving your box braids in.”
But ultimately, the amount of time you keep your braids in completely depends on you. That being said, it does take equal parts skill and patience to perfect this look, so once you’ve got your braids looking flawless, it’s important to work with the style to keep them looking fresh.
As a relatively easy style to maintain, these plaits don’t require washing or brushing every day. But, there are definitely some steps you should consider if you want to increase their staying power.
Still want to know how long do box braids last? ATH sits down with our resident hairstylist for her top tips on maintaining your braids…
Prep your hair before you braid
Before heading to the salon or creating your braids at home, it’s important to make sure your hair is freshly washed and detangled. As you braid, you’ll probably be adding product to the roots, so you don’t want to have any extra unnecessary build-up or knots.
Also, make sure there’s no more tension on the braid than you’re comfortable with, even if that means they’re slightly shorter or ‘looser’. If you are concerned, book a consultation with an experienced braider before you take the plunge. Credit: @bestboxbraids
Consider the tightness of your box braids
Worried about the tension of your braids? If you have a sensitive scalp, tightly woven plaits can cause you some discomfort, tugging on the hairline, especially as the hair grows out but on the other hand, braids that are too loose can easily come undone.
So, how do you find the balance? Elena recommends working with your hair type. “If in doubt, go for slightly looser braids, it’s best not to put too much pressure on the scalp. Alternatively, experiment with a bigger braid to see how your scalp reacts before moving onto a tighter, smaller style.” Credit: @amprogel
Remember: products can help
They might be a fairly low-maintenance protective style but box braids still require some upkeep to help them look polished. Extend the lifespan of your style by looking after the roots and tips of your hair, daily.
Elena suggests controlling any frizz at the roots by using a gel like the VO5 Mega Hold Styling Gel, especially as the hair is growing out. “Use a small amount of product and only apply where you need it using your fingertips.”
It’s also important to keep an eye on the ends of your hair, making sure they look healthy and haven’t split apart. Especially with longer locks, the majority of your braid will be an extension so to keep it looking sleek, smooth down any flyaways with a small amount of gel or wax.
It’s also worth sleeping on a silk pillowcase or wrapping your hair in a silk scarf at night to keep minimise friction that can lead to a frizzy hair surface. Credit: @jeniffer_nascimento
Watch out for regrowth
One of the main factors affecting how long your box braids will last is your personal hair growth rate. If you’ve got locks that grow at lightening speed (we’re jealous), then, chances are you will have to re-do your braids quicker than most. It is recommended though, to wait at least a month between getting box braids again “this will give your roots time to recover,” says Elena.
On the other hand, hair that doesn’t grow as quickly means you won’t have as much visible root growth. But, this doesn’t give you a free pass to leave your braids in for longer than recommended. “They should still be redone before you hit the two-month mark,” Elena advises. Credit: @txukinha_oficial
Bored of your braids? Make the style last longer in an updo
If you’ve got the urge to #BeatHairBoredom, we suggest working your box braids into a stylish updo. Turn heads by weaving them into a larger plait, twisting into a bun or pulling up into a ponytail. Practice makes perfect, so if you’re new at styling your braids, work slowly to make sure you don’t pull on the hair too much.
“Make sure your style is loose at the roots,” advises Elena. Using a scrunchie or loose hairband will help minimise tugging on the braid and help prevent any damage. Credit: @bestboxbraids
Invest in an after-care routine
Decided it’s time to take down your box braids? Then don’t forget to give your hair a little TLC post braids. Using leave-in conditioners, hair masks and oils after washing your hair is a great way of giving your tresses a treat post braids as well as adding much-needed moisture.