Part of the reason styles with box braids are so popular is that they can give hair the structure needed for more elaborate looks. This is acutely true for the natural hair community, where styles with box braids can offer normally curly or afro-textured hair some heft and length. Hairstyles to do with box braids also provide a stunning starting point for longer-haired looks such as the half up half down bun.
Don’t get us wrong: The half up half down bun is a hairstyle that can very much work across the board—it is basically just, you guessed it, a half-ponytail with a top knot—but really long, straight to wavy hair usually showcases the nuances of this look the best: namely, strand and scalp quality, and a remarkable sheen. It’s an updo that can highlight a not-so-healthy scalp or put dry, frizzy hair on the spotlight, so if you’ve got all these things on lock, you’re well on your way to rocking this queenly ’do!
(Scroll to the end for our guide on how to do box braids in ten easy steps!)
Styles with Box Braids: The Half-Up Bun
Start with your hair down.
Start on freshly (and gently) washed braids for the best, the shiniest results. To do this, use a co-washing routine. Blot away any excess moisture, especially focusing on the scalp area.
Twist the top-front section.
Section off the top third or fourth of your braided hair and start twisting them in one direction, up and away from your face. Grabbing more braids results in a trendy, boho-chic turban or wrap-effect too.
Coil your twist around.
Coil your twist around its own base, creating a loop. You may need to make more than one full revolution, depending on the thickness of your braids (or your hair).
Secure your bun.
Insert several bobby pins around the base (and any other wobbly seams) to secure the loop. Feel free to use a hair elastic if your bun feels shaky without one, but make sure the elastic has got quite a lot of giving and won’t cause unnecessary tension on your crown.
Refine your edges.
Apply a tiny amount of hair oil or serum on your palm. We like how the polished, salon-smooth shine provided by TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Shine Serum is great for cowlicks and frizzies.
Smooth 'em down.
Using your fingertips or a brush, smooth down any cowlicks, halo frizzies, or sideburns that stick out for a truly refined finish.
You’re all set! Try to keep your styles with box braids in for up to six weeks to give your strands a breather. Otherwise, keep rocking your new on-trend updo!
Styles with Box Braids: The Bow Bun Updo
As one of our favorite easy and quick hairstyles, buns can be worn in so many ways, including the creative and girly bow bun updo. As another super-cute way to wear your box braids, it’s chic, modern, and on-trend. Read on to learn how to get the box bun updo in just under 10 minutes.
Refresh your braids.
Before creating your bun, refresh your braids if needed with a dry shampoo. Simply spray a few inches away from your roots and massage it in. Try Dove Refresh+Care Detox & Purify Dry Shampoo.
Gather hair into a high ponytail.
Gather the braids on the middle section of your head into a high ponytail.
Form a loop.
Instead of pulling all of your ends out of the ponytail, create a loop instead. Be sure to leave enough length out as you will need to use your hair ends to create your bow bun later.
Split the loop into two sections.
Grab onto each side of the loop with both hands and spread apart to divide them into two equal sections.
Pull hair ends over.
Pull the hair ends that you left out in Step 2 over the mid-section of your bow bun.
Wrap the ends around.
After you’ve pulled your braids over the bun, wrap the remaining ends around the bun to finish your bow bun.
Here’s your final look. If needed, add some shine to your braids with a hair oil or hair serum. Try out Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil, a product that’s infused with Moroccan Argan oil. This works to deliver a long-lasting shine without weighing down your hair. Bonus: It smells awesome!
More Styles with Box Braids
Love those box braid styles? Then, you’ll love to flex your box braiding chops with these 17 on-trend box braid hairstyles. You’ll love the inspiration these box braid pics will give you. Scroll on for more looks:
1. Slanted Top Knot
We just walked you through this slanted top knot half updo-but here’s another look! We love how chic and trendy this style is and making the twist a little slanted adds a fun change to the traditional top knot.
2. Half-up Space Buns
Looking for cool styles for box braids? Look no further! Space buns are back with a vengeance and we find it to be one of the coolest box braids hair looks at the moment. Try out this old-school style on your box braids. For a modern twist, pair the look up with the half-up hair trend.
3. Micro Braids
Medium to chunky-sized braids, not your thing? Try out micro braids. This style may take hours to do but it’s totally worth it. Many women opt for this size since it’s much lighter in weight. Thicker braids can feel a little heavy on your head. So if you’re looking for hairstyles with box braids that won’t weigh your head down, opt for this teeny-tiny option.
4. Colored Streak
The perfect way to give your box braid hairstyles a cool touch is by adding a pop of color. Opt for braiding one or two strands with a fun hue that stands out.
5. Twisted Half Updo
6. Multi-Colored Hairstyles for Box Braids
If the previous style is just a little too basic for your funky style, go for the go hard or go home approach. One of the best parts of this style is that it requires no commitment to a permanent hair color since you’re using extensions. Stick to two colors or try out more for a fun rainbow effect.
7. Scarf Updo
We love a good hair accessory and you should, too! Dress up your box braids with scarves. For stylish spin mix prints and textures. Opt for mixing patterns that have the same color story to give your ensemble the perfect blend.
8. Side Crown Braid
For some ladies, a full-on crown braid may feel too heavy on a box braid style. Take some of the weight off your neck and consider styling your box braids into a half-crown braid instead.
9. Side-Swept Box Braids
Side swept hairstyles have a super sexy and romantic appeal. To get your braids to stay put, use large bobby pins to set in place.
10. Top Knot
We love how voluminous an eye-catching top knot is with box braids. If you choose to go for a two-toned look your top knot will pop even more.
11. Traditional Half-Up Top Knot with Box Braids
Slightly different than the half-up top knot in the tutorial, this top knot is more centered on top of the head.
12. Tamed Edges
If you’ve got some baby hairs to style with your box braids, embrace them and make them pop by taming them.
Use some Emerge Edge Control to get the finish you want. This product is a gel that snatches edges and makes sure you won’t have to deal with any unwanted frizz throughout the day.
13. Orange Hue
Add in a dark orange hue to create depth and some pop. This color complements shades of brown so well, the perfect way to experiment with a bold color while still making it look “natural.”
14. Half Updo
When in doubt, go for a classic half updo style. This is the perfect cutesy look when you want your hair out of your face but don’t want to put it completely up.
15. Face Framing Braids
One of the best parts of box braids is how easy it is to use them to frame your face. Create any updo and give it that extra drama simply by leaving two braids down by your face.
16. Hair Accessories
Take your box braids style up a notch by adding some chic hair accessories. You can add some beads down the braids or braid in a different colored strand.
17. Model Off-Duty Bun
The model-off-duty bun has been a major trend this year, and it works perfectly on box braids, too. Leave off the end of some of your braids and bring them toward the front so that they frame your face. This look is so effortless and beautiful.
Those are some of our favorite styles to pair with box braids. There are so many different looks you can create, just have fun and wear what feels good.
But, don’t worry about booking that salon appointment, ATH is here to teach you how to do box braids yourself in just 10 simple steps. Apart from the fact that they are one of the prettiest protective hairstyles, this technique also has the added advantage of being practical and versatile. However you choose to wear them, you’ll never regret learning how to do box braids.
How to Do Box Braids in 10 Easy Steps
Section the hair.
Wondering how to start a box braid? It’s simple! Using a wide tooth comb, carefully detangle your mane. Next, use your comb to section your hair in half horizontally.
Clip the top half up so it doesn’t get your way when you start plaiting. Then, divide the loose section of hair vertically into two equal sections.
Use a wax.
Take a small amount of the Bed Head by TIGI Manipulator Cream, and using your fingers, gently comb it through the hair, concentrating on the roots.
This will make the hair easier to weave and give your braids a smooth and shiny finish.
Tie to secure.
Use a small elastic (preferably either clear or the same colour as your hair) to tie off the section at the top.
This will help to prevent tension on the roots and keep the hair flat against the scalp.
Style your extensions.
Take a folded section of the extensions you are going to use and pull gently on the ends.
This will separate them and make them slightly uneven, giving you a tapered effect that’s more natural.
Braiding hair for box braids couldn’t be simpler. Place the folded extension over your hair tie and pull the strand apart so it lies either side of your natural hair section.
This will help keep the braid as close as possible to your scalp. Then, start a regular three strand braid by weaving the outer extensions under the middle strand.
Plait from root to tip.
Braid the hair all the way down until you reach the point where your natural hair runs out.
Then, separate the remaining two sections of hair (the extensions) into three and continue weaving the hair until you reach the bottom.
Repeat the process.
Moving section by section, divide the hair equally and continue this braiding process.
It’s essential to use the same size and length extension for each braid so that the style looks seamless.
Dip the ends in hot water.
Once you’ve finished, dip the ends of your braids into hot water to seal the tips. Use a towel to remove any excess water
You can also press a hot towel all over your entire head to flatten any flyaway hairs so each braid looks perfectly polished.
Style your edges.
Now your braids are sealed, use scissors to trim the ends if necessary. The final step of this box braids tutorial? Styling your hairline.
Place a small amount of the Emerge My Everything Hair Styling Butter Cream onto a spare dry toothbrush and use it to seal any stray hairs around your hairline into place.
See, we told you it wasn’t that hard!
Now you’ve mastered your box braids, experiment with how you’re going to style them by scrolling through the above styles.