What Are Box Braids?

Terryn Kelly
Box braids are a sleek style

Box braids are individual plaits that are usually divided by small squared off parts or boxes. Box braids may be of any width or length, but most women add synthetic or natural hair to the braid for length as well as thickness and fullness. The great thing about these braids is that because they are not attached to the scalp like cornrows are, they may be manipulated into several different styles. It may take a long time to complete the style, but the finished product is beautiful and lasts for months.

How to Make Box Braids

Box braids are made by first parting the hair into individual boxes one at a time. The boxes can be small, medium or large sized. After the box has been created, the section of the hair in the box is then spilt into three even subsections and is braided all the way down to the ends. This process will be repeated until the entire head has been braided into individual braids. Box braids can be done on natural hair, or extensions can be added for length and fullness.

Without Extensions

  1. Section the hair into fours and secure each section with a hair clip, except the section you want to start with first.
  2. Begin to make a part in the section you have chosen to work in. Make a vertical part first, than a horizontal part next to make your box.
  3. Take the hair inside the box and split the hair into three subsections.
  4. Begin to braid the hair all the way down, keeping a firm grip on the braid until you reach the hair ends.

  5. Repeat this process on the entire head until the set of box braids has been completed.

  6. Spray the scalp and braids with an oil sheen.

With Extensions

  1. Section the hair into fours and secure each section with a hair clip, except the section you want to start with first.
  2. Begin to make a part in the section you have chosen to work in. Make a vertical part first, than a horizontal part next to make your box.
  3. Prepare the braiding hair you will be adding to your box braid from the package by separating several pieces out at a time.
  4. Grab one of your separated pieces of braiding hair and hold it from the middle, so it looks like an upside down U.
  5. Proceed to wrap the extension around the hair inside the box to create a base for the braid.
  6. Blend both the real hair and fake hair out with the fingers. Separate the hair into three even subsections.
  7. Begin to braid the hair all the way down, keeping a firm grip on the braid until you reach the hair ends.
  8. Take a strand of hair and wrap it around the hair and make a small knot to secure the braid.
  9. Repeat this process on the entire head until the set of box braids has been completed.
  10. To take away the stiffness of the braids and to seal the ends, dip them in boiling hot water. Be sure there is a towel draped around the body to prevent the hot water from dripping on the shoulders and back.
  11. (Optional) Step - If curls are desired, wrap the braids in sponge rollers first, and then dip them in hot water.
  12. Towel dry hair and spray with an oil sheen.

Styling Tips for Box Braids

Box braids have been around for many years and are quite fashionable among African American women. Once you have created a new set of box braids, there are many fun ways to design your braids. You can choose from casual, everyday styles or elegant updos for a special night out.

What Are Box Braids?