If you’re in the market for a good protective style, chances are you’ve come across box braids. This quintessential style is a go-to for many women seeking a low-maintenance, yet versatile look.
The style itself can be described as individual braids parted in square sections (or boxes as the name suggests). It is also not uncommon for women to add synthetic hair to their braids to increase the thickness, length, and overall versatility of their hair.
Now I love box braids because of their “-ilities.” Of course, I’m talking about accessibility and durability. I have never had trouble finding a stylist that couldn’t do box braids well and that’s huge because ethnic hair care has shown me Milwaukee is not exactly Chicago… (And by that, I mean our stylists are always months, maybe years behind the latest YouTube and big city hair trends – SIGH).
But they are also amazing because once you get them done, they’re in for the long haul (assuming you maintain them properly and you know… actually want to keep them that long).
So if you’re interested in channeling your inner Dionne Davenport or Poetic Justice, here are some things to think about before you commit…
5 Things you may want to consider:
- Listen to your hair – The health of your hair should be #1 priority. While braids make a great protective style, they can put a strain on unprepared hair. If you have split ends, are suffering from breakage, or experience dryness, you want to try and take care of all those issues prior to sealing your hair away in a protective style, rather than damage your strands further.
1.5. (Along with that…) – Even the healthiest of hair should be protective style prepped. This means your strands should go in freshly washed, moisturized and detangled for optimal results. Not only does this make it easier for your braider, but for you post takedown of your protective style.
2.Size Matters – Like I mentioned earlier, are you more of a Janet from Poetic Justice or Stacey Dash from Clueless? The fun thing about box braids is that choices as simple as the length and thickness you choose for your braids can actually give you totally different looks.
Not only is this a stylistic debate, but a practical one concerning the health of your hair. If your strands are thin, the Poetic Justice braids might not be the way to go. It all depends on what you think your hair can handle.
3. Patience is key – Although there is no ring involved, the braiding process is a huge commitment. You could very well be sitting in that chair for 4-8 hours (make it minimum six if your stylist is the type to take food and rest breaks). I’m just saying, no book or mobile device is magical enough to make that time fly by and you will contract a symptom known as numb bum halfway through.
4. Beauty (AKA HAIR) never sleeps – Just because you’re rocking synthetic magic doesn’t mean that hair underneath doesn’t exist. Remember, low-maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance, so keep your strands a priority by regularly washing and moisturizing them. Spritzing and/or oiling the hair every now and then along with washing it about every two weeks will keep it soft, moisturized and healthy.
5. Protective, not Permanent – If you can’t be bothered with your real hair or are just really into your style, you’ll be happy to know that box braids can last 2-3 months depending on how well you maintain them. That being said, wearing them longer than that is really pushing it and testing the health of your hair (in a bad way). So unless you’re going for the twofer with dreadlocks, free your hair and let it breathe.
Still interested in the look? I recommend Pinterest or a simple Google search for some braidsperation! Any other thoughts on box braids? Comment down below and share your thoughts.