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If you are going for that classic hair look, box braids are the way to go! This versatile hairstyle has transcended generations, cultures, and hairstyle trends. However, not everyone may know how to do box braids, and we want to help! After all, these exquisite African braids offer a wide range of styling possibilities, allowing you to express your creative side with various lengths, thickness, and colors. This hairdo also works as a protective hairstyle by reducing breakage and friction. That is why it has become a huge fashion statement and is constantly embraced by celebrities and influencers worldwide. These braids effortlessly exude confidence, and if you have been wanting to don this look but don’t know how, you have come to the right place. Learn how to weave box braids, their various techniques, their history, and more in this article. Let’s dive in!

protip_iconprotip_icon Before You Get Started
  • Box braids are not just for long hair. If you have short hair, talk to your stylist about adding in extensions to give your braids a longer appearance.
  • Collect all the required hair supplies beforehand such as wide-tooth comb, rat-tail comb, hair ties, and hair extensions.
  • Don’t be afraid to play around with colorful hair extensions. They add a vibrance to your natural locks without having to color them.

What Are Box Braids?

Box braids are a Black hairstyle that involves dividing the hair into small square or rectangular sections, creating a distinct geometric pattern. This protective style may help boost hair growth and hair health by combatting breakage, friction, and damage and requires minimal styling manipulation (1). Box braids can also be used to transition relaxed hair back to its original natural texture. They are a low maintenance hairdo that can be kept on for long periods of time, minimizing the daily effort you have to make to style your locks. The hairdo is commonly braided with extensions for added length but can be styled without them as well. It offers a chic, edgy look that can be worn on all occasions. These braids are popular since they can be used daily, even for exercising, as they can be washed regularly without altering the style.

Now that you know about how box braids look and why they are so sought-after, explore their historical background as well in the next section.

The History Of Box Braids

Box braids are said to have originated in South Africa and can be traced back to around 3500 BC. This was a braiding style, called Eembuvi braids, that the Namibia and Khoisan tribes used to sport. Soon many African people were flaunting box braids that were used to symbolize age, religion, and even identifying certain communities. Afro box braids were very popular in Egypt during 3100 BC as well.

African women would make fiber skull caps attached with wool, felt, or real hair and weave box braids. They would then adorn these braids with cowrie shells, jewels, and beads. These braids were not just of cultural significance but also symbolized one’s social and financial status. It was thought that a woman was very wealthy if she could spend time and money to braid and adorn her hair. During the times of slavery, braids were used as a map to escape. For example, the number of braids on a woman’s head would indicate the amount of roads to be taken.

During the ‘60s and ‘70s, Black women started embracing the natural hair movement, purposefully avoiding Eurocentric hair standards. More African-American women were flaunting these types of braids. However, box braids were really thrown back into the spotlight in 1993 when Janet Jackson sported them for the film Poetic Justice and its promotional events and premiere. More recently, the US army has allowed Black women to style their hair in some protective styles, like box braids, since 2014. The Army policy had previously considered protective hairstyles to be unprofessional.

In present times, box braids continue to be a cherished hairstyle, blending tradition with modern fashion and beauty trends.

protip_iconprotip_icon Trivia

Box braids gained popularity in the 1990s thanks to stars like Brandy Norwood and are currently embraced by many celebs, like Gabrielle Union, Beyoncé, Zendaya, Keke Palmer, Alicia Keys, and Kelly Rowland.

In present times, box braids continue to be a cherished hairstyle, blending tradition with modern fashion and beauty trends. But did you know that there are different types of box braids present as well? So, scroll down to know more.

What Are The Different Types Of Box Braids?

Check out the different and popular types of box braids that can be styled for various occasions and versatile looks.

The classic box braids are a timeless hairstyle featuring even square or rectangular braids. They offer a traditional look that is both elegant and protective for natural hair. These braids have a traditional knot at the hair roots to help attach the hair extensions used.

Knotless box braids provide a more natural look and lightweight feel by eliminating the traditional knot at the hair base. This also helps in reducing tension and promotes comfort during wear.

The jumbo box braids are characterized by larger, chunkier sections that together create a voluminous hairstyle. The hairdo offers a statement-making look that is guaranteed to catch everyone’s attention.

 These are box braids weaved with thinner sections of hair. This type of box braid is generally done only with a person’s natural hair and without the addition of extensions.

Now that we are aware of different types of box braids, have a look at the tutorial below and learn how to create stunning box braids with and without extensions. Scroll down.

How To Do Box Braids – Step-By-Step Tutorial

While creating a box braid may initially seem tough, it involves rather simple steps that can be mastered by anyone. Check out the two different ways you can style this hairdo, with and without extensions.

1. Without Extensions (Step-By-Step)

Things You Need

  • Wide-Tooth Comb
  • Rat Tail Comb
  • Hair Rubber Bands

How To Do

  1. Wash your hair first.
  2. Then detangle your locks with a wide-tooth comb.
  3. Section the hair into small 1×1 inch squares using a rattail comb.
  4. Wrap and tie up all the sections of hair, save one.
  5. Divide that section into three equal parts.
  6. Weave a regular three-strand braid stitch until you reach the ends.
  7. You can secure the ends with a rubber band or dip them in hot water for sealing.
  8. Follow the same procedure for the other sections.
  9. If you have any baby hairs at the front hairline, you can style them in finger waves.

2. With Extensions (Step-By-Step)

When it comes to using hair extensions for box braids, you need to know that there are different types of extensions. Sew-in and clip-on extensions are first attached and then the hair is braided. With free or loose hair extensions, you can simply include the hair in after the first stitch. Some people with short hair, weave their natural locks into a braid and then include the extensions just before their natural hair ends, making their locks look longer.

Keep reading to learn the step-by-step method of using loose hair extensions.

Things You Need

  • Wide-Tooth Comb
  • Precision Comb
  • Rubber Bands
  • Hair Extensions

How To Do

  1. Wash and detangle your hair.
  2. Section the hair into about 1×1 inch squares with the help of a rat tail comb.
  3. Hold the loose extensions with one hand and fold it and the center, making two parts.
  4. Divide each square into three subsections.
  5. Add in extensions so each half of the folded part joins the corner subsections of your natural hair.
  6. Begin braiding with both natural and synthetic hair in a regular three strand braid.
  7. Secure the ends with a rubber band or dip them in hot water for sealing.
  8. Follow the same procedure for the rest of the tresses.
  9. If you notice any flyaways after braiding, you can apply some cream and gently comb them in.

While these were the modern ways of styling box braids, you can stick to the traditional technique as well. Continue scrolling to read all about it.

How To Do Box Braids With The Traditional Technique

The traditional box braid technique offers a clean look that lasts long. Check out its simple how-to-do steps below.

  1. Wash your hair with a mild shampoo and detangle gently.
  2. Section the hair into even squares.
  3. Divide each square section into three strands.
  4. Start braiding at the roots.
  5. Cross the right strand over the middle.
  6. Then, cross the left strand over the new middle.
  7. Repeat and continue adding hair as you go.
  8. Secure the end with a rubber band.
  9. Follow the same steps for the rest of the sections.

While we have covered the various techniques you can try to create a box braid hairstyle, here is another interesting one that you can experiment with, the tucking method. Let’s read more about it below.

How To Do Box Braids With The Tucking Method

The tucking method is a way to ensure that there are no contrasting shades between your hair’s natural color and the extensions you use.

  1. Wash your hair with a mild shampoo and gently detangle the tresses.
  2. Divide the hair into 1×1 inch squares.
  3. Clip up all the sections of hair except one.
  4. Divide that one section into three parts.
  5. Then fold your extensions in half, then divide one of the halves in two.
  6. Hold the extensions at the roots of your natural hair so the big half is over the center part and the divided smaller half are over the side parts.
  7. Begin braiding your hair in a regular three-strand braid, ensuring the extensions cover your natural hair properly.
  8. Once you reach the ends, secure the ends with a rubber band or dip them in hot water.
  9. Repeat the same steps for all sections.

If you have decided on which method to follow for your box braids hairstyle, you now might be wondering how long they even last. To know all about it, check out the section below.

How Long Do Box Braids Last?

Box braids typically last anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, depending on factors such as hair type, maintenance, and lifestyle. Regular care, like avoiding excessive moisture and protecting the braids while sleeping, can extend their lifespan. Overwashing your box braids can loosen the stitches and cause flyaways. It is also essential to monitor your natural hair growth and address any issues promptly for optimal results.

protip_iconprotip_icon Quick Tip

Not only can you alleviate your box braids with hair accessories like beads, cuffs, hair clips, or colored strings, but you can also combine them with other braid styles like Fulani braids or cornrows.

One way to ensure your box braids remain for long is to weave them in a size that is comfortable for your hair length. Keep reading to know more.

How To Choose Your Box Braid Size

Different box braid sizes can offer different looks and cater to various purposes. Let’s have a glance at them below.

Small: Small box braids can be opted for a sleek and intricate look. They offer versatility in styling and longevity but require more time and patience during the installation process.

Medium: The medium or regular box braids hit a sweet balance between small and large, offering a quicker installation process and versatility. They are suitable for various styles and are easier to manage, while also providing a modish appearance.

Large: Large box braids offer a bold appearance and are ideal for individuals looking for a striking hairstyle. They are easy to install and are suitable for anyone seeking a low-maintenance hairdo. The braids not only allow for creativity in styling but also provide a comfortable feel.

Once you have picked a desired size and then weaved your braids, you need to know how to properly wash them as well. This helps maintain the style for a long time. Scroll down to learn more.

How To Wash Box Braids

  • Dilute a mild shampoo in a cup of water.
  • Pour the blend over your hair and scalp.
  • Gently massage the blend on your scalp and briads, avoiding excessive rubbing.
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  • Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner and apply it gently to avoid unraveling the braids.
  • Leave the conditioner to rest for a few minutes before rinsing.
  • Pat your braids dry with a microfiber towel and let them air dry completely.

Being aware of the correct way to wash box braids is one thing but knowing about their overall maintenance tips is truly important as well. Read about them below.

How Do You Maintain Box Braids?

It is ideal to adhere to certain maintenance tips to boost the longevity of the braids and have a sharp look all the way through. Let’s check out a few of them below.

1. Use A Silk Scarf

 Protect your box braids while sleeping by tying them up with a silk scarf or wear a satin bonnet. This helps in reducing unwanted friction, thus preventing frizz and retaining the hair at night.

2. Use Warm Water When Shampooing

 Gently wash your braids with diluted shampoo or a braiding cleanser. Use tepid water to prevent frizz and avoid excessive rubbing or pulling on the braids.

3. Avoid Excessive Heat

 Refrain from using heat styling tools, such as a curler or hair straightener, as they can damage both your real hair and the synthetic extensions. It is recommended to embrace your natural texture during the braided period.

4. Do Regular Touch-Ups

Schedule touch-up appointments every 4 to 6 weeks to maintain the neatness of your box braids. Aim at fixing loose braids, trim any frayed ends, and refresh the style to keep it polished and well-maintained.

5. Keep Scalp Moisturized

 Regularly apply a lightweight oil to the scalp to prevent dryness and itching. Hydrating the scalp helps maintain the overall health and luster of the natural hair. You can also keep a spray bottle filled with water (add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil) to spritz your braids with every now and then.

One common question that frequently revolves around box braids is how much do they cost and if they are expensive. So, let’s clear that doubt in the next section.

How Much Do Box Braids Cost?

Box braids cost can vary based on the factors like hair length, thickness, and location. On average, you can expect the prices to range between 100 to 300 dollars. However, the prices can go higher for intricate styles or specialized hair salons. The price may increase if you want to add in extensions or opt for jumbo or micro box braids. You can also try DIY kits that offer a budget-friendly option, costing around 20 to 50 dollars. Ensure to consult with your hair stylist for an accurate estimate about the price according to your preferences and hair type.

Niah Faye, a blogger, recounts her personal experience with getting box braids. She shares the cost of the braided hairstyle in her blog post and states, “The total cost was well over $100, but my hazy eyes, diverted by lust for these braids, refused to see the price I would be having to pay (i).”

Mastering the art of box braids involves careful steps to ensure a polished and lasting look. Whether you wish to opt for traditional technique or experiment with the tucking or knotless method, cleanliness and precision are important. Choose braiding size based on desired aesthetics and maintenance preferences. Ensure you follow up the proper caring tips as well like using a satin or silk scarf, indulge in regular touch-ups, and avoid heat styling appliances. By following the proper steps anyone can rock the box braids and add a touch of elegance and charm to their overall appearance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have more than one type of box braids in my hairdo?

Yes, you can experiment with different types of box braids to create a unique look. Combine small, medium, and large box braids for a customized look that suits you.

Is doing box braids yourself hard?

While doing box braids yourself can be difficult at first, you can master it over time with practice.

Can you box braid wet hair?

No, it is recommended to avoid doing box braids when you have damp hair. It is important to ensure your tresses are completely dry and detangled to prevent any frizziness and knots later on. Naturally textured hair is more fragile when wet, making it prone to breakage during the braiding process.

Do box braids ruin your hair?

When done properly, box braids do not ruin your hair. However, improper installation or not maintaining them properly can lead to breakage or damage.

Can I color my box braids, and if so, what products should I use?

Yes, you can color your box braids using mild hair dyes. Opt for temporary or semi-permanent hair colors to minimize hair damage. Also ensure the products are safe for synthetic hair to preserve their quality. You can also consider using colored hair extensions.

Can I swim or exercise with box braids, and how do I care for them in those situations?

Yes, exercising and swimming with box braids is completely fine. Just make sure you tie up the braids in a ponytail, wear a swim cap, and rinse them with clean water afterwards. Post-workout, pat the braids dry to maintain their look.

How long do box braids take?

The total time to complete box braids can vary depending on factors such as size of the braids and how good you are braiding them. On an average, small box braids can take up to 6-8 hours, while larger ones can take 4-6 hours.

Key Pointers

  • Box braids are a type of protective hairstyle that involves dividing the hair into square or rectangular shapes, thus creating a geometric pattern.
  • Box braids help in boosting hair growth and maintain hair health by preventing damage, frizz, and breakage.
  • The popular hairstyle originated from Africa about 3,000 years ago and was adorned by different African tribes.
  • There are three different types of box braids, classic, knotless, and jumbo.

While a box braid may seem extremely complicated at first glance, it is a rather simple hairdo that can be styled effortlessly. So, if you wish to experiment with this modish and statement look, then check out the video below for an easy tutorial on box braids hairdo and thank us later!

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Afro-Ethnic Hairstyling Trends Risks and Recommendations
    https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/9/1/17
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