Box braids are among the most popular hairstyles for black women, and it should come as no surprise! They are incredibly stylish, easy to maintain, and there are several different styling options.
Box braids can be spotted easily by their somewhat boxy, squared off divisions. Hair extensions are often critical for pulling off the appropriate look. Best of all, box braids even serve as a form of protective styling.
Currently, it’s not uncommon to see women with waist-length box braids. Even celebrities like, Alicia Keys, Eve, and Sanaa Lathan have joined in on the trend.
It’s an exciting return to form, given the prevalence of this look among many television, movie, and music stars, like Janet Jackson and Brady Norwood, several decades ago.
Box braids are being championed as one of the go-to hairstyles for ladies that like to change up their appearance. They’ll add protection while adding eye-catching length. Even merely throwing them over your shoulder is a great style all its own!
As it stands, there’s no denying the cultural impact this hairstyle has had over the years. It’s a joy to see that their elegance and versatility are now back in full force.
Installing Box Braids
There are several different choices when it comes to wearing twists and braids. Plus there are always new styles being regularly created.
Crochet braids, goddess braids, Ghana braids, and poetic justice braids are some of the most popular braiding styles. After considering which style you want to use, thickness, length and color must also be decided.
Twists and braids have to be appropriately installed for them to protect your hair. Otherwise you the risk of causing hair damage.
Many women use extensions when creating braiding styles, although we recommend using human hair extensions when possible. These human hair extensions are often a little more expensive than synthetic hair extensions, but human hair will create a much more natural looking hairstyle.
As Forever Cryssy shows in the video above, it’s critical to ensure that box braids aren’t installed too tight; otherwise, they can cause significant hair damage.
Tight braids can cause hair loss, too. Once the braids are installed, make sure that your scalp and your hair is kept clean.
It is always a good idea to keep your hair covered at night. This helps ensure the braids last longer and continue to look good. However, you don’t want to keep the braids in forever, and 6-8 weeks would be the recommended maximum. Just like installation is important in regards to maintaining healthy hair, so is removal.
When you remove extensions, be sure to snip much lower than where you think your real hair starts. This is recommended so you don’t accidentally cut your real hair.
Using oil during the removal process also helps with detangling. Use your fingers to detangle your hair as you remove the braids. You also want to make sure that you get rid of hair that has been shed.
Take good care of your hair during both the installation and the removal processes. Remember that the most important thing is not to install braids or twists too tightly. You do not want to suffer permanent hair loss because you installed your box braids incorrectly.
Box braids continue to make up a vital portion of many African American girl’s hairstyling repertoire. This is one of the hairstyles that offers lower maintenance and this protective style allows you to keep your natural hair free from manipulation and out-of-the-way.
Box braids are also one of the more versatile ways to show off your hair. Once they are installed, there are several ways you can show off your braids and several ways in which to style them.
When making the decision to wear box braids, you will first need to consider the color, length, and the size that you want.
Box Braid Sizes
Typically, box braids come in 3 basic sizes: (1) the normal size, that can be compared to the width of a pencil, (2) jumbo box braids, which are thick and chunky braids and (3) very thin, micro braids.
Chunky, Jumbo Box Braids
Jumbo box braids are extremely popular due to their fashionable, dramatic appearance.
Tanieya uses the rubber band method to install jumbo box braids in this tutorial. She also uses x-pression hair extensions with edge control styling gel, olive oil, and rubber bands.
Some women complain about jumbo box braids being too heavy and causing tension of their hair strands, so pay close attention to the tightness of the braids and size of sections used. Also, due to the size of jumbo box braids, some women have trouble keeping them clean compared to micro braids.
Thin, Micro Braids
When considering micro braids, it’s important to consider that more tension could be placed on your hair follicles as less hair is used to carry the weight of these braids.
With this is mind, when installing micro braids, make sure that your stylist doesn’t make your braids too tight leading to additional tension of your hair follicles. One advantage of micro braids is that they offer more access to the scalp, which makes cleaning your scalp and hair a lot easier.
In this video tutorial, Freedom Styles shows a step-by-step process for installing micro box braids with cornrows. It appears that the stylist was a little rough with the hair, although the video was sped up, so this likely contributes to the hand motions appearing to exaggerated.
Normal, Pencil-Sized Box Braids
The normal box braids may be the best option when you want to play it safe. They’re not heavy like some jumbo box braids can be, and they aren’t thin, micro braids that can put stress on small sections of your hair. These “normal” box braids are often the best place to start for people new to braiding hairstyles.
If you are looking for a more dramatic look, then long braids are the better option. However, keep in mind that these braids can get in your way and may be uncomfortable when you sleep at night.
If your hair is already long enough, you can just have it braided. If it isn’t, then you’ll need to purchase hair extensions. Some stylists will charge you less if you bring your own braiding hair. Your local beauty supply store should be able to help you find good braiding hair for box braids.
However, there are other salons and stylists that will demand you purchase their hair extensions. This is sometimes a requirement to force you to pay more, but other times it may be due to having a particular brand they prefer because of ease of use.
Depending on the exact nature of the box braids you’re getting, styling products may be included. As with many other services, this depends on the salon.
In this video, Angie Bee provides an overview on dealing with tight, heavy braids.
The Side Braid With Aaliyah Swoop
This style can be done in all of 0.5 seconds. It’s super easy and quick if you already know how to braid. First things first, you gather all of your braids or twists to one side. Take 1/4 of the braids in the front and make a fake Aaliyah bang. Don’t know what an Aaliyah bang is please refer to Exhibit A.
Grab some fabric and wrap that ish up! Have a cute scarf lying around? Grab it and wrap those braids up! You can wrap them all the way up and get your June Ambrose Turban on like so:
or you can let some of the hair drape down waterfall style. Either way the cuter the scarf the better you can deflect folks from looking at those grown out edges.
This is the same exact hairstyle as the one above it but this time, leave some hang time in the back. Instead of putting all of your braids into a high ponytail, leave the back half down. Proceed to put the front half into a high ninja bun and just like that- another simple, easy style to rock when those braids are getting old as heezy!
What’s your go-to hairstyle when your braids start looking old? Let me know in the comment section!