Whether you style them with a classic finish or pair them with shaved sides and colorful tresses, box braids are one of the most versatile protective hairstyles you can master. These protective braids are created from boxed off sections of hair that vary in size depending on your preferences.
A staple for some of our personal hair heroes, this A-list favorite 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 if you’re doing them yourself. We promise with this style, you can give your strands the rest from daily styling. Not only that, but you’ll definitely get bang for your buck if you decide to get our box braids done by a professional!
Here are the 7 things you need to know about Box Braids:
- What are Box Braids?
- How long do Box Braids last?
- How to start Box Braids
- Consider the tightness
- How to maintain Box Braids
- Watch out for new growth
- Make the style last longer in an updo
- Invest in an after-care routine
What Are Box Braids?
Box braids are individual plaits or braids created from small sections of hair that are usually divided in boxed off squares. They can be any length or thickness but many women choose to use synthetic hair to add both fullness and length. Box braids serve as a protective style for women when they want to give their natural hair a break.
How Long Do Box Braids Last?
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:
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. Two months is the absolute max I would suggest leaving your box braids in.”
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. - Elena Diaz, All Things Hair, Stylist
How to Start Box Braids
Before heading to the salon or creating your braids at home, it’s important to make sure your hair is freshly washed, detangled and blowdried straight (not pin straight). 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 and ask any questions you have about the process.
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.”
How to maintain box braids
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 Nexxus Exxtra Hold Sculpting 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, wax, or a smoothing cream like Bed Bead by TIGI After Party Smoothing Cream. At night, sleep on a silk pillowcase or wrap your hair in a silk scarf at night to keep minimize friction that can lead to a frizzy hair surface.
To refresh your braids in-between washes, use a dry shampoo like TRESemmé Fresh & Clean Dry Shampoo to cleanse your hair. Spray it at your roots and massage in with your fingers.
Watch out for new growth.
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 lightning 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.
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. When styling use a scrunchie or loose hairband will help minimize tugging on the braid and help prevent any damage.
Invest in an after-care routine.
When you decide to take down your braids, don’t forget to give your hair a little TLC. Use our guide to help you care for your hair after wearing braids. Leave-in conditioners, hair masks and oils after washing your hair is a great way of giving your tresses a treat post braids as conditioners and masks replenish hair, while oils help lock in moisture.