One of the most popular hairstyles in the braiding community is box braids. Worn by celebrities like Beyonce, Solange, Zoe Kravitz, and Janet Jackson, This ancient hair design is not only stylish but acts as a protective hairstyle to safeguard your natural hair.
WHAT ARE BOX BRAIDS?
Box braids are one of the oldest and most recognizable braiding hair techniques known to the world. The box braid name comes from the uniformed box-shaped design used when creating each braided plait section.
Box braids get their structural shape from the unique patterns used to interlock the strands. The tighter you braid the overlapping of each strand, the sharper the end braid will end up. Some styles require you to leave the patterns looser and distressed, like the famous Boho braid styling.
HISTORY OF BOX BRAIDS
Box braids are a popular protective style that combines old braiding patterns with new and stylish protective techniques. It’s hard to find the origin of such a style, but if you follow along, we have highlighted some key moments in history where the braided styles are recognized nationally.
- The first record of braided hairstyles is from over 30,000 years ago. Archeologists discovered artifacts that they call the “Venus of Willendorf.” These small figurines are made of stone and depict women with a braided updo.
- Fast forward 25,000 years to 2,500 bc, and we start to see Hindu sculptures that depict their god Shiva wearing braided locs. Evidence of this is found not only in ancient sculptors but also in religious scriptures as well.
- Another 1,000 years later, in 1,900 – 1,700 bc, Egyptian pharaohs are seen wearing not only braided styles but long braided wigs that are fashioned out of silks, synthetic fibers, and natural hairs.
- Skip ahead to the 15th century, and we start to see many personalized braided hairstyles in the cultures of Africa. Many tribes used braiding hairstyles to symbolize social status, marital status, fertility, and family background.
- In the 16th century of Africa, tribes began to use braid color, thickness, and length to signify one’s age, religious beliefs, kinship, wealth, and a form of self-expression.
- Fast forward another 200 years, and we start to see the rise of the box braid hair design. The most notable box braid moment was the 1993 Poetic Justice film starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur.
This brings us to the present day, where we have thousands of box braids hairstyles available to us at any moment. Let’s learn a little more about how to create the style on your own.
HOW TO CREATE BOX BRAIDS
Box braids are relatively easy to create. To correctly create the look, follow our easy-to-follow step-by-step guide.
Follow along with “How To Black Hair” and their very insightful youtube tutorial video on “How To BOX BRAIDS For Beginners! (Step By Step).”
- CLEAN START – Always your natural hair and scalp before starting any hairstyle; not only is this safer, but it also yields a better result.
- BOX SECTIONS – All box braid hairstyles start with the precise sectioning off hair into box-shaped groups. It is essential to create clean and uniform lines as these will be very visible when the style is complete. Use a good edge control product to help lock down those troubling baby hairs.
- EVEN BRAIDS – Box braids get their structural design from the interlacing of your hair strands outwards from your scalp. Changing up these braids will give you different box braid styles.
- REPEAT – Once you figured out your braid pattern and completed your first braided plait, repeat the process throughout your head to finish the design.
- SEAL THE TIPS – To finish a box braid hairdo, use a rubber band method or heat seal technique to lock the hair tips together to prevent the braid from unraveling.
BOHO BOX BRAIDS
Boho braids are a shortened name for bohemian box braids. The artsy style combines distressed braids, vibrant color blends, and a mix of hair accessories. These braids look best in bleach blonde and honey blonde combinations.
Crochet braids are the fastest and easiest way to accomplish a box braid hairstyle. Each braid is premade from human and synthetic hair. The look is very eye-catching, and the braids don’t pull against your natural hair. The braided styles come in all lengths and hair colors. This type of braid is excellent for DIY stylists.
KNOTLESS BOX BRAIDS
Knotless box braids are a braiding technique that involves gradually adding braiding hair into one’s natural hair. The styling requires the customer to have long enough natural hair to create a box braid base. The braider will then braid their hair to start the styling as they add more braiding hair to complete the updo.
POETIC JUSTICE BRAIDS
Poetic Justice is the film that is said to be the start of the box braid hairstyle. The movie stars Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur with Regina King and Joe Torry. Justice, played by Janet, rocks half-up box braided buns that are long and very uniform.
GODDESS BOX BRAIDS
Box braids and faux locs are trendy hairstyling. It’s no wonder that the goddess faux loc style would be adapted into a goddess box braid styling. This unique look involves leaving a 3-5 inch open curly end at the tips of each box braid to create a heavenly goddess look.
CORNROW & SHAVED SIDES
Rock a hairstyle with No Box Braids on The Sides with the use of cornrows or shaving all the hair off in wonderful designs.
HALF UP HALF DOWN BOX BRAIDS
Regular box braids can be spiced up, throw it all in a bun and grab your favorite dreadlock beads and cuffs to rock out the Jamaican and island feel.
BOB BOX BRAIDS
Some say Cleopatra wore the bob box braid hairstyle first. It doesn’t matter who wore it first, but rather who wore it best. Grab you some medium box braids that are ear lobe to shoulder length with short bangs to complete this look.
Even though you have found the right style, you will need to find the right box braid color to help personalize your look and make it more personal to your character.
COLORED BOX BRAIDS
Wearing the right box braid hair color is just as important as choosing the right box braid styles. For thousands of years, the color of your box braids determined your place, marital status, and hierarchy in a tribe. Luckily now we can wear any color we want without belonging to any specific group.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLOR FOR YOUR BOX BRAIDS
Finding that color that matches your look can be difficult, especially with many different color combinations available on the market. Check out some of these great tips on choosing that right box braid hair color!
START WITH THE BASICS – The most popular box braid hair colors are also the simplest to create. Colors like Jet Black, Dark Brown, Honey Blonde, and Bleach blonde are great choices.
MATCH YOUR SKIN TONE – If you try to look great with outstanding out like a rainbow, match the hair strand colors to your natural skin tone and choose a lighter or darker shade.
SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY – When your personality is extrovert, choose bright, vibrant colors, and if you are an introvert, try standard base colors.
ADD AN OMBRE EFFECT – When you find it difficult to choose one color, see if they look great together and use an ombre fading technique to combine those colors.
OUTFIT OF THE DAY – If this style isn’t permanent or expected to last more than one night, match your fit. Nothing is more elegant than a full outfit that matches every detail of your look.
AVOID AMAZON AND WALMART – Online marketplaces are filled with lots of options. Finding the right color can be difficult and almost impossible. Save yourself time and stress by going directly to the distributors who properly label all their products to avoid confusion and mislabeling.
BOX BRAID HAIR SIZE LENGTHS
The last piece to any box braid look is the hair size you choose.
Typically box braids hairstyles use similar length box braid plaits throughout the same look. These sizes range from short box braids to long box braids and small to jumbo box braid sizes. Check out our box braid sizes article to learn more about properly measuring your braids and sizing them accordingly.
MAINTAINING A FINISHED BOX BRAID HAIRSTYLE
After you have had a box braid updo for a while, you will notice the braided plaits don’t look as good as they used to and don’t shine in the sun correctly. This is because you need some box braid maintenance. Luckily for you, a box braid hairstyle is low maintenance as long as you follow simple and easy hair care routines.
- Wash your scalp and natural hair follicles regularly and at least once a week. Use a leave-in conditioner to help keep those human hairs nourished.
- Tighten looser braids but avoid over-tightening to avoid breakage.
- Wrap your braids in a silk scarf at night to avoid damaging them while you sleep
- Use a trusted Loc Gel to create a sharper hairline and more professional braiding styles.
If you still have questions about box braids, we might have the answers you need below in our frequently asked questions section.
CAN YOU GET BOX BRAIDS WET?
Yes, box braids are allowed to get wet. Just keep in mind that braided hair takes longer to dry and may cause the style to tighten if manipulated while wet.
ARE BOX BRAIDS THE SAME AS KNOTLESS BRAIDS?
Knotless braids are the technique of adding hair extensions to your style to increase the length or size of your hair. This can be in box braids or any other braided hairstyle.
DO BOX BRAIDS RUIN YOUR HAIR?
Box braids are considered a protective styling because of the way they protect your natural hair from environmental factors, over manipulation, and allow regular hair growth. Braided hairstyles shouldn’t be overly tight to the point that they cause discomfort or hair loss and breakage.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE TIME IT TAKES TO INSTALL HAIR BRAIDS?
The install time of a box braid style is determined by the number of braids, size, length, and installation method. A typical box braid style will take the stylist anywhere from three to six hours to complete. Alternatively, crochet box braids only take one to three hours to install because of the premade braided plaits.
WHO WORE BOX BRAIDS FIRST?
Box braids became very popular in the 1990s with the release of the movie Poetic Justice. Since then, box braids have become the most popular braided hairstyles for African American women in the united states.
Choosing the right box braids for you can seem difficult, but finding the right look that offers versatility and longevity is easy with all the information we shared. Make sure to sign up below to receive messages on all our new content and any updates to current topics.
- American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. “Folklife Center News, Volumes 10-16.” Google Books, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, books.google.com/books?id=nxMPgebGMFkC.
- Manchego, Lebo. “A History Of African Women’s Hairstyles.” Africa.com, 24 Jan. 2020, africa.com/history-african-womens-hairstyles/.