box braid hair styles
Beauty Tips

Box Braids: What You Need to Know About Box Braids in 2023

It should come as no surprise that box braids are among the most popular hairstyles for black women! There are many various styling possibilities, they are highly attractive, and they are simple to maintain.

Black people and members of the African diaspora favor box braids more than any other type of hairstyle. This form of hairdo is “boxy,” with square-shaped hair divisions, and is a “protective style” (a style that may be worn for a long time to enable natural hair develop and protect the ends of the hair). 

Synthetic hair is typically used to install box braids, adding thickness and assisting the natural hair in the braid. Box braids can be done in several ways because they are not fixed to the scalp like other comparable designs like cornrows. Box braids might take a while to install, but once done, they can last for six to eight weeks. They have a reputation for being simple to maintain.

Box braids are probably one of the most well-liked defensive hairstyles Black ladies cycle through. They not only look great, but they also allow us a chance to take a vacation from styling our hair. “A protective style like box braids protects it from being injured,” says Ursula Stephen, celebrity hairstylist and worldwide ambassador for Suave, Tresemmé, and Dove. “Natural hair tends to breaking when it is overmanipulated.”

Some of our favorite celebrities have made box braids their go-to hairstyle for red carpet events or social media appearances over the past few years.

Popular figures including Beyoncé, Solange, Gabrielle Union, Zoe Kravitz, Tia Mowry, and many others have all sported the look more lately. But numerous braided hairstyles, including box braids, date back to 3500 B.C. in Africa. 

The box braids of today, according to experts, aren’t all that dissimilar from those worn by people in Namibia and the Nile Valley centuries ago, which may please a true history enthusiast.



So How Does Box Braids Work? 

Box braids are three-strand braids for the uninitiated. Although they don’t change all that much from ordinary braids, they are undoubtedly more defined because the tension given to the braids is sufficient to avoid flyaways. 

Box braids, in contrast to cornrows, are not braided flat against the scalp; rather, the hair is divided into perfectly shaped squares (or boxes) all over the head and is braided down its whole length, allowing you to freely shake your freestanding plaits. Many naturals and relaxed heads choose extensions in order to gain additional length, volume, and protection.

Because it is inexpensive and can endure intense heat for sealed ends (if rubber bands aren’t used), Kanekalon, a synthetic fiber that is used in most braiding hair packs, is frequently utilized to create the style. However, bulk human hair can also be utilized for a more authentic appearance that is sustainable and kind to the earth. However, because it’s actual hair, this alternative costs more and requires a little more effort.

You can use any type of hair extension you select again for future box braids or other braiding techniques.


Box Braids Histroy 

Due to the time and effort required to properly style braids, they were also possibly utilized as a symbol of wealth and power to help distinguish between tribes and geographical areas. Box braids have been around for a while, but they weren’t given a name until Janet Jackson, an R&B singer, made them popular in the 1990s.

This method of braiding is derived from the chin-length bob braids used by Nile Valley ladies more than 3,000 years ago or the Eembuvi braids of Namibia. Braiding was a significant social custom among the Mbalantu tribe in Namibia. Girls would meet with their mothers to learn how to braid from the older women.

The Khoisan tribe of South Africa and the Afar people of the Horn of Africa both frequently sport box braids. In Africa, various braiding techniques and designs have been used to indicate social standing, marital status, age, wealth, and tribal affiliation.

Braids were employed for communication in various African nations. Braid patterns were utilized on some Caribbean islands to plot routes out of slavery. The hairdo can be supported with layers of oils and finely chopped tree bark. For usage in traditional clothes and many rites, human hair was once wefted into fiber wig hats composed of sturdy materials like wool and felt.

Older women’s box braids were ornamented with cowry shells, gems, beads, and other material objects that alluded to their willingness to have daughters, emulation of wealth, high priesthood, and any other classifications.


Box Braids Styles 

There are several different choices when it comes to wearing twists and braids. Plus, there are always new cute box braids 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 have 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 box braids hairstyle.


How Should Hair Be Prepared For Box Braids?

Pre-treating your hair is crucial because it will be hidden for several weeks or months at a time. Prior to the braiding appointment, Hill suggests anyone getting box braids to perform a protein and scalp treatment on dry, unwashed hair. 

She advises shampooing and deep conditioning the hair for 10 to 15 minutes with a strong moisture-based conditioner after letting the treatments rest on the hair for 30 minutes.

Making time for a deep, moisture-rich conditioner is something Robin Groover, owner of the Too Groovy Salon in Atlanta, recommends, but she also suggests turning up the heat. To guarantee that the product penetrates the hair properly, Groover advises covering the hair with a plastic cap and using heat.


How to Pick the Right Braid Size?

Selecting the thickness of your braids is the most difficult aspect of getting box braids. Take into account your surroundings when making decisions, advises trichologist and stylist Bridgette Hill of Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa.

The appropriate size will rely on your aims and reasons for selecting a braided style, in the words of the author. 

For your week-long girls’ trip to the Caribbean, are you searching for a bohemian beach beauty look? Or do you want to give your hair strands a rest from shaping and manipulation by wearing a protective style?”

Hill emphasizes that you should talk to your stylist about your intended box braid time in addition to considering the weather you’ll be in. Although she urges her clients to avoid micro-sized braids, she notes that the smaller the portions should be, the longer you plan to keep them in. “I recommend that parts be at least two fingers wide,” the author says.


What is the Maintenance of Box Braids Like?

Although box braids are designed to be a low-maintenance, protective style, some maintenance is still required to keep your plaits and scalp in good condition.

Hill suggests spritzing a moisturizing oil on the physical braids at least three to five times per week. The foundation for good hair is the scalp, which requires a little extra care.

Weekly use of a nozzle applicator bottle to apply natural cleansing oils to the scalp, such as citrus-based rosemary, is advised, according to the expert. Every two weeks or so, some scalps may require a diluted shampoo treatment.

If that’s the case, Hill advises applying shampoo and water in a nozzle applicator bottle to your scalp before stepping into the shower. Before it needs to be rinsed under a shower head, the mixture can sit for five to ten minutes. After getting out of the shower, you can spritz some moisturizing oil on the braids and let them air dry completely. In the event that you decide a hooded dryer or blower drier is required, Hill advises keeping it cool.


How Durable Are Box Braids?

It may be tempting to keep your box braids in as long as you can. especially if months after the first insertion, your braids still look wonderful. A protective style entirely defeats its purpose if you leave your braids in for too long because it might result in breakage, matting, and buildup on your new growth.

If the hairline and nape are redone around the six-week point, Hill says braids can last up to 10 weeks. Eight weeks is the longest time you can wear your hair in a braided style if the hairline and neck are not redone at the six-week mark.

Groover gives us two crucial pointers for when it’s time to remove your box braids. First, untangle. second, clean. “For the initial round of detangling, use simply your hands and no product on the dry hair. 

I propose using a rich, thorough detangling conditioner and a wide-tooth comb for the second round of detangling “In her advice, “By going the extra mile, you can reduce tangling and excessive shedding. The softening, conditioning, and building of dry, tangled hair are all improved by [this]. After rinsing your hair mask off, continue with your usual washing and conditioning regimen.”


What Happens During the Braiding Process?

Box braids do not exist in a vacuum. The style can be thick or thin, long or short. The amount of time you spend in a stylist’s chair can also change depending on the aesthetic you’re striving for.

The length of time depends more on the client’s hair type and the braider’s talent and technique than it does on the braid’s design, according to Hill. “A good braid style might take anything from four to eight hours on average.”

Real talk: You might want to bring some magazines, a phone charger, and food with you if you’re looking for a truly complex or Rapunzel-length box braid style.

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