Protective styles assist in minimizing frizz and manipulation, which can often lead to breakage, and promotes length retention. If length retention is one of your goals, I suggest taking a break from your natural hair for a while and doing one of the popular protective styles – box braids.
Box braids are individual plaits that are usually achieved using hair extensions. The style can last for about two months or more and can be styled in various ways (ponytail, buns, braided crowns). You are probably thinking “Hmm no dealing with natural hair for two months? How can I get started?”. Well lucky for you, I have 6 tips that will not only help prepare your hair for box braids but will also keep your hair looking healthy and beautiful after removal.
#1: Prep Your Hair First
Before getting box braids that will stay in your hair for several months, take time to prep your hair and scalp in these three steps:
It’s important to have a clean scalp before doing any sort of style and is even more important when you plan on having the same style for a few weeks. To ensure your scalp is clean, detoxing is your best bet. It can be done using a clarifying shampoo and is beneficial for removing hard water, silicones or scabs that contribute to hair loss or thinning.
- Deep Condition
Immediately follow up with a deep conditioner after detoxifying your scalp to help bring the moisture back into your hair. It also promotes elasticity while adding shine as well as strengthening the hair to prevent damage or breakage.
- Moisturize and Stretch Hair
Use your favorite leave in conditioner after rinsing out the deep conditioner. Braid or twist your hair as you apply the leave in and detangle. The raking, smoothing or praying hands method will assist you in distributing the product throughout your hair. For maximum stretch, detangle your hair when it is damp. Finally, apply oil such as almond, coconut, argan or castor oil to your ends to seal in all that moisture.
#2: Choose Among Many Box Braid Styles
I am very guilty of always wanting to try something new. Save yourself and your stylist the headache by looking for the right box braid style for YOU weeks before your hair appointment.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Large Box Braids – full and rich box braids that make an ultimate statement;
- Chin Length Box Braids – giving you an alluring braided bob look, better yet when decorated with some well selected hair jewelry;
- Colored Box Braids – adding a pop of color when getting some box braids can become a winning hair transformation;
- Knotless Box Braids with Beads – coating you with the unique calming sounds only braids with beads can make;
- Box Braids with Triangle Parts – triangular section pattern is another great way to upgrade a traditional box braids style;
- Long Box Braids – making Rapunzel locks perfectly achievable even for natural hair;
- Knotless Box Braids with Curled Ends – curled unbraided ends is another great way to step up the game when getting box braids.
#3: Buy Pre-Stretched Hair
Whether you are doing your hair yourself or having a stylist do it, use pre-stretched hair. It saves so much time compared to regular braiding hair and allows for a nice blend of your natural hair and extensions.
Some of my favorite pre-stretched hair brands are X-pression, Model Model, and E-Z Braid Professional. These three brands provide packs of kanekalon hair that is silky smooth leading to a nice and neat braid appearance with no frizz.
#4: Neglecting Is a NO NO!
Maintenance is key when getting box braids and one of the biggest mistakes we as naturals make is neglect it. Neglecting your box braids is the same as neglecting your natural hair. How? Braiding hair is known to cause dryness in natural hair if not taken care of correctly.
A simple way to prevent this from happening is to use mousse and a little oil every couple of days to bring in moisture and shine to both your braiding and natural hair. Be careful not to use mousse too often because it will cause build up. After applying mousse, follow up with Wrapp-it styling strips. Thank me later.
Follow the common rules of sleeping with curly hair. Every night, wear a silk scarf wrapped around your braids or sleep with a satin pillow to keep friction and frizz from getting the best of you and your braids.
#5: When It’s Time to Go, It’s Time to Go!
Box braids last for up to two months. It may last longer with proper maintenance, but when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. An obvious sign is when your box braid extensions are hanging on for dear life, new growth at the roots. Another sign is excessive frizz.
To properly remove the extensions, spray them with water and grab your favorite leave-in conditioner and oil. As you unbraid, the trio will loosen the build up your hair accumulated over the past two months, making it an easy removal.
Since your hair will be dirty, you are going to want to wash it. Properly detangle your hair before you step into the shower! The key to detangling is to work in small sections. You can either use your fingers or a brush to do so but start from your ends and work your way up to the roots. Twist or braid after you work through each section, then follow up with your wash day routine. Do not skip deep conditioning!
#6: Give your Hair a Break!
While protective styles such as box braids can be a good thing, they can also be a bad thing. There is a lot of tension going on as your hair is getting done. All that pulling and tension over time leads to hair loss, especially at the front of your head (ever hear of the thinning edges?). We do not want that! We want to keep our edges, don’t we?
Another factor that plays into hair loss are heavy box braids. Those are the types of styles where there are multiple braids in your head and they are huge. These types of braids should be avoided from time to time. The goal is to let your hair breathe and wait at least 3 weeks before getting them again. Your hair will thank you.
Congratulations, fave! You are now ready to get box braids and any other protective style of your choosing. Check out my Instagram and TikTok for more natural hair tips and tutorials!
Featured Image via Instagram