Box braids are spotted everywhere from street styles to the red carpet—and no wonder why. It is one of the most stylish protective hairstyles that can be dressed up or down. And it’s also a great way to showcase African culture.
Whether you want to try a new hairstyle or simply want to take a break from heat styling tools, we rounded up the best tricks for you to rock the box braids.
How Many Packs of Hair for Box Braids? Depending on your hair length, you can use about 4 to 7 packs of Kanekalon braiding hair to do box braids. However, if your natural hair is not long enough to get braided, you’ll need to use hair extensions.
The time it will take to get full-head box braids will depend on the size and length of your box braids. Some women took 4-10 hours to complete their braids.
What is Box Braids?
Technically, box braids are three-strand braids made from square-shaped sections. Therefore, it got the name box braids.
Do you know that box braids can be done with your real hair or even hair extensions for added volume, length, and thickness?
Women with natural hair often use heat styling tools like flat iron and manipulate their hair on a daily basis to keep them stylish. Unfortunately, these habits are damaging to your hair.
Depending on your preference, you might opt for normal-sized braids, jumbo and chunky braids, or microbraids.
If you’re new to box braids department, you might opt for a normal-sized braid that is as thick as a pencil. It can be easier on your scalp since the sections on your hair are not too small and the extensions are not too heavy.
If you’re aiming for a dramatic look, go for chunky, jumbo box braids. Unfortunately, they are heavier on the scalp, and more challenging to clean since they are thick and tight.
Micro box braids are stylish too, but it tends to put more tension on the scalp since smaller sections are needed to install the braiding hair.
If you want to get box braids in shorter lengths—that can be styled into a bob—you might need to have 4 packs of braiding hair. A great thing, this hairstyle is classic and can work well from office to parties.
If you want to rock longer box braids, have at least 5 to 7 packs of braiding hair depending on your preferred texture, length, and thickness.
Why Box Braids Are Called as a Protective Hairstyle?
Box braids are considered a protective hairstyle. It protects your hair from damage by reducing the use of heat from hair styling tools, chemicals from relaxers, and constant manipulation of hair.
By adding protective hairstyles into your hair care regimen, you encourage hair growth and keep your hair healthy.
In fact, most protective hairstyles like box braids can last from four to six weeks, which can let your hair breathe from heat, harsh chemicals, and constant manipulation.
The Difference between Traditional Box Braids and Knotless Box Braids
While traditional box braids are done by securing the braiding hair to your scalp, forming a knot. With knotless braids, it is done by braiding your real hair first, then feeding in the braiding hair into the braids.
A great thing, knotless box braids are not painful, unlike the traditional box braids.
You won’t experience tightness on your scalp since the installation is done on your braided hair, not on your scalp. If you usually experience falling hair or you naturally got finer hair, the knotless box braids are perfect for you.
With the knotless box braids, you don’t have to add tension on your scalp, which means less shedding and less breakage. Also, the knotless box braids are lighter and less bulky compared to their traditional counterpart.
If you want a more natural-looking box braids, go for the knotless method as it will look like your real hair, not an extension attached on your scalp.
However, knotless box braids take longer to install—but don’t fret as they last longer too.
On creating the knotless box braids, you’ll need to have 4 packs of braiding hair for shorter lengths. And 5 to 7 packs of braiding hair for medium and long braids.
Experts suggested the use of Kanekalon braiding hair. But make sure the texture you’ll pick matches your real hair so you’ll make your box braids natural-looking.
Remember, the key lies not only on the installation of your box braids but also the time and effort you make to maintain them.
How to Do Box Braids?
Step 1: Prep your hair for braiding
To create seamless box braids, you have to start with clean and tangle-free hair.
You may start combing your hair from ends working to the roots to lessen the friction. You also need to prepare and section your hair extensions before starting your braids.
For medium to long box braids, you’ll usually need 5 to 7 packs of braiding hair, and at least 4 packs for shorter braids. When in doubt, have more packs of hair handy for your convenience.
Step 2: Install the synthetic or natural hair extensions into your hair
You have to create box-shaped sections on your hair, depending on your box braid size, and keep them evenly parted.
Usually, you’ll part your hair into a 1-inch section for a normal-sized braid, half-inch for small to micro braids, and 2 inches for jumbo box braids. Use a rattail comb to make your partings neat, starting from the top to the back of your neck.
You can secure each section with a hairpin or elastic, so it will avoid the hair mixing with other sections.
If you’re doing the traditional box braid, form a knot, attaching the hair on your scalp as usual, and start braiding. If you’re going for a knotless box braid, braid your hair as usual, and attach the hair on the ends of your real hair.
Just keep on braiding the hair all the way to the ends until you reach the desired length.
Step 3: Seal the ends of your braids with elastic or hot water
Most of the time, you can seal the ends of your braids with hair elastics before dipping them into hot water, but you can also leave your elastics on to prevent your box braids from unravelling.
Experts recommended using hot water that will lessen the frizz and fly away hair, at the same time sealing your braids. Just dip your braids starting from the middle to the ends in the water and you’re done.
How to Take Care of Your Box Braids So They’ll Last Longer?
Tip 1: Protect your box braids at night
To avoid damaging your hair, make sure you treat it with care while your braids are on and keep up with the proper maintenance. To avoid ruining your braids while sleeping, cover your hair with a satin or silk scarf.
Did you know that the smooth texture of satin and silk will lessen the friction on your hair? I will also prevent frizz and hair fall. You may also switch your cotton pillowcases to silk and satin ones so you’ll be easy on your braids while sleeping.
Tip 2: Keep your scalp hydrated and your hair nourished.
Did you know that the buildup of oil and dust to your hair can be damaging to your roots?
You should wash your hair with gentle shampoo at least thrice a week. Also, use nourishing hair products like hair serum, hair cream, hair oil, leave-in conditioner and such.
If you want to skip the shower, you can also use dry shampoo from time to time. But don’t forget to condition your hair with hydrating products.
You may also use a scalp tonic filled with soothing ingredients like tea tree oil. And witch hazel to refresh your hair.
Tip 3: Don’t wear your box braids for more than 8 weeks.
It might be tempting to keep your braids on as long as possible, but don’t keep them for too long.
Box braids might be a protective hairstyle. But during your 8th week, new hair growth will appear and your extensions will likely cause hair loss.
For instance, a long micro box braid uses around 5 to 7 packs of braiding hair. This means they are heavier and put more tension on your scalp.
After wearing your box braids for some time, take a break. Let your hair breathe and keep it healthy. Whether going to a stylist or doing it yourself, box braids are one of the chicest. And most versatile hairstyles that should be on your list to try now.
How to choose a box braid size for your hair type?
It is fun to experiment with micro braids and rope-like box braids. But experts recommend taking your hair type into consideration.
If you have a thick hair, better opt for normal to jumbo-sized braids that will look natural on your hair. Too thick hair and too small braids won’t look flattering enough—think of gazillion braids.
On the other hand, finer hair goes best with micro to normal-sized braids. Jumbo braids will be too heavy on your roots.
Should you expect the braiding process to be painful?
Braiding process, especially the traditional box braid method might be uncomfortable at first, but they shouldn’t be painful. If it is too tight or unbearable, you should adjust or even take them out.
In fact, pain is the sign that you’ll likely experience hair loss or traction alopecia. Remember, you’ll wear your box braids for weeks, and pain won’t make the hairstyle worthwhile.