Box braids originated in Egypt as far back as 3500 B.C, with many women of the time wearing short braided bobs with some accessories such as jewels and beads.
Box braids also owe their origin to the Mbalantu Tribe of Namibia, Africa. Many of the tribe's traditions revolve around their hair, and their long, braided hair is known near and far. The latest trend of box braids is in the early '90s film, Poetic Justice.
What Are Box Braids?
Box braids are a type of braids in which the sections of hair are parted into squares or “boxes.” Box braids are a classic hairstyle suitable for women of all ages.
It is not uncommon for Black women to wear box braids at least once in their life.
While box braids and single braids are used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between the two. Single braids are typically smaller and have no distinct parting, thus making the braids look fuller.
Synthetic hair extensions, such as Kanekalon hair, are the most widely used hair type for box braids. It is not necessary to use hair extensions to install box braids as they can be installed on natural hair.
Easy & neat jumbo box braids (elastic band method)
How to Do Box Braids?
There are several types of box braids that you can choose from, but each will require the traditional installation method.
- The traditional method of box braids is to part your hair in box-like shapes.
- Next, if you are using extension hair, you will then take it and secure a knot at the base of the braid. The knot ensures that the extension hair is secured to your natural hair.
- Once it is attached, continue the braids by splitting the extension hair and your hair into three and creating a normal plait.
There are also other styles of Box braids worth noting other than the traditional version.
Styles of Box braids
Knotless Box Braids
These braids require you to create your braids while using a feed-in method. You start by braiding your hair with a few stitches. Then you will slowly begin adding in equally sized pieces of extension hair. This type of box braids is trendy right now due to how natural and tension-free it is.
Goddess Box Braids
This form of box braids is very ethereal. They are installed the same way as normal box braids. A wavy/curly hair texture is included towards the end of the braid to give it the “goddess” appearance.
Crochet Box Braids
This is a less time-consuming option for achieving box braids. You can buy pre-braided box braids and install them quickly and easily. Either cornrow your hair down and loop them through with a crochet hook, or you can use the crochet hook to install them into individually sectioned pieces of hair.
The style takes 9 hours on average to complete.
Are Box Braids Versatile?
Box braids are one of the most versatile protective styles, as they allow you to achieve many looks. Box braids can be long, well past waist length, or short in a braided bob.
Box braids vary in thickness, ranging from micro, small, medium, large, and jumbo. They are known for being versatile as you can wear your hair either down, in a high ponytail, or a bun.
Full traditional box braids only 3 hours start to finish
How Long Do Box Braids Last?
Though box braids can take an average of 9 hours to install, it is possible to wear the braids for up to 3 months at a time with proper care. So, the lengthy installation time may be a fair trade-off for how long they last.
Who Are Box Braids Suitable For?
Box braids are a great style for coarse hair types ranging from 3A to 4C. The style is also a good choice for natural, transitioning, and relaxed hair. However, the style may be difficult for sensitive scalps. If done correctly, box braids should not hurt.
Sometimes, the braids are installed too tightly and can cause traction alopecia, leaving you with bald patches. Although, even if installed correctly, the tension may be a lot for a sensitive scalp to handle. Consider getting the knotless box braids as opposed to the traditional method. Knotless box braids are known for their low tension.
When to Wear Box Braids?
Box braids can be worn year-round, but many will choose to wear them in warmer months. As the style allows your scalp to breathe, it is great for when it is hotter outside to give your scalp some air.
Also, the style can be suitable for the workplace, depending on your job’s dress code policies.
How to: easy DIY box braids (beginner-friendly) | medium-sized
Pros and Cons of Box braids
- They are low manipulation, protective style. Box braids are a great protective styling option. They allow you time away from doing your hair while protecting your hair from roots to tips. The low manipulation from this style will allow your hair time to breathe and flourish on its own. Your hair should come out healthier than before installing the braids if they are installed correctly.
- They are extremely versatile. Box braids are an extremely versatile protective style. They can be done in a variety of sizes, lengths, and colors. Whether you like your box braids medium or you like your box braids jumbo, the style can be done. Not only that, but box braids have a range of types. You can choose from goddess, knotless, triangle, etc. Each will give you a different look, making the box braids style forever loved by many. Also, the braids allow you to place them in many updos and styles. You can wear them in a bun, ponytail, half up, half down, etc.
- They are cute and professional. This is a protective style that is not only cute but can be very professional for the workplace. Of course, check your work policies, but many jobs agree that this style is professional.
- They can cause traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is the loss of your hair, often in patches. This widely happens due to improperly installed protective styles. Box braids are a protective style that is easy to install too tightly. You may have heard of friends telling horror stories of their braids being so uncomfortable they left the salon chair in aching pain. Do not ever leave the salon chair feeling like this! It can have extreme consequences.
- The installation and takedown are lengthy. Box braids can take up to 9 hours to install and sometimes even longer. It is not a quick style to achieve. Be sure to check with your stylist on how long the style is expected to take beforehand. This may allow you to prepare or pick another protective style properly.
- They can be pricey. Box braids vary in their prices, but they can easily cost you several hundred dollars. The starting price for a professional stylist is $150 and may go up depending on the size, length, and type.