Out of all the protective hairstyles Black women cycle through, box braids hairstyles are probably one of the most popular. Not only are they super stylish, but they give us a chance to give our hair a break. “When natural hair is overmanipulated, it tends to cause breakage, so a protective style like box braids protects it from being harmed,” says Ursula Stephen, celebrity hairstylist and global ambassador for Suave, Tresemmé, and Dove.
Over the last few years, some of our favorite celebrities have made box braids their go-to hair style for red carpets or social media appearances with It girls like Coi Leray, Rihanna, Zoë Kravitz, and Zendaya all rocking the protective style.
What are box braids?
In short, they’re braids that get their name from the square shape in which your hair is sectioned off. They’re most often installed with extensions and come in a range of lengths, sizes, and colors (as you’ll see ahead).
If you’re thinking of getting the style yourself, there are a couple of things Stephen thinks you should know. First, you should treat and trim your hair prior. Natural hair is often blow-dried out beforehand to make the installation process easier for your stylist, so you can have your ends cut then. Speaking of stylists, Stephen recommends that you research yours beforehand and be conscious of the sensitive parts of your scalp during the braiding process. “If you have a thin or weak hairline, then you shouldn’t put excess tension on those areas,” she warns.
Once you have your box braids in, it’s easy to forget about your actual from-the-root hair which, yes, still requires moisturizing. “Products that have penetrating ingredients like coconut oil, jojoba oil, and olive oil are great to use while wearing these styles,” says Stephen. As for when to take them down, she recommends keeping them in for two months maximum.
Now that we have the basics out of the way, we’ve rounded up some of the coolest box braids hairstyles for you to consider. Fair warning, though: It’ll be hard to choose just one. Scroll on through for our favorites.