Box braids are one of the most common protective styles for naturalistas. This is because you don't have to comb or style your natural hair every other day when you're wearing them. Also, they protect your hair from harsh weather conditions. However, if you don't care for them properly, they could get rough and lose their beauty. This could also affect your natural hair, leading to dryness, excessive shedding, and even hair breakage. In this article, I will be sharing with you helpful tips on box braids maintenance.
How To Care For Your Box Braids
Here are simple tips to keep in mind to care for and maintain your box braids
1. Avoid too much styling
When it comes to styling, braids allow you to be as versatile you want to: from updos, crowns, ponytails, pigtails, to mention a few. However, this does not mean that you should style your braids every other day. Too much styling puts pressure on your hair roots and edges, which can lead to thinning or even hair breakage. Also, your box braids can easily get rough from over-styling.
2. Don't leave your braids in for too long
While box braids are great protective styles, they must not be left in for too long, and by this, I mean, no longer than 5 - 6 weeks. Now, this is a common habit with some people— leaving their box braids in for as long as 8 weeks to even 6 months! When you leave your box braids in for that long, this can cause excessive hair shedding, thinning, breakage, or even permanent hair damage. Remember, box braids are temporary protective styles, you should take them down after some time and refresh your hair.
3. Wash your braids
Many people don't like the thought of having to wash their box braids or they probably don't know that they can actually wash it. However, this is a necessary step if you are wearing box braids or any protective style of some sort. As you go about your daily business, your braids gather dust, sweat, and even product build-ups. These tend to make your braids smell. So, what do you do? Wash your braids with shampoo or simply cowash. Don't feel comfortable doing that? You can apply shampoo on a clean damp cloth and wipe your scalp and braids with this.
4. Spritz and oil your scalp
It can be easy to forget about your scalp when you are rocking box braids. This can lead to having a dry and itchy scalp. So, what do you do? Get your spray bottle and spritz water on your scalp. Next, lock in the moisture with any natural oil of your choice.
5. Sleep with your satin or silk scarf
One of the ways to keep your braids free from frizz and protect your natural hair as well is by wrapping a satin/silk scarf on your braids before bed. This will keep your hair from losing moisture and keep it from unraveling easily. But if you feel uncomfortable wrapping a scarf around your braids to sleep, you can wear a satin bonnet or go for silk or satin pillowcases instead. Either way, you're protecting your hair from drying out.
6. Don't trim
Tufts of your natural hair sticking out from your box braids can make it look frizzy and not old. While trimming out such hair tufts may look like the perfect solution, I recommend that you don't trim them more than once. Why? Remember, you're trying to protect your hair with the braids and not lose them. It's only natural that some hair tufts appear on your braids. Moisturize and seal instead, this will take care of both your braids and natural hair, keeping them shiny.
7. Don't forget your edges
When wearing box braids, the closest attention most people give their hair edges is styling with a hair gel and baby brush. Our edges are fragile and lack of proper care can make them fall off. This shouldn't be you. With your spray bottle, give your hair edges some spritz and lock in that moisture with lightweight oils. I advise that you do this in the morning and at night.
If you follow these tips that I have outlined, you can get the most out of your braids for weeks and have healthy natural hair while at it. So, put them to work!
For more practical tips on how to take care of and maintain your box braids, this video tutorial by Seun Okimi is a very helpful guide.