Unboxing Box Braids
Navigating the options
By: Ethena Profit and Kisha L.
In the realm of defensive styles, there's one that has been worn in the media for no less than thirty years—we're discussing box braids!. Janet Jackson unquestionably assumed a part in promoting the style statewide with her introduction film Poetic Justice in 1993.
All the more as mainstream big names like Beyoncé and Solange have worn the style, just as Gabrielle Union, Zoe Kravitz, Tia Mowry and numerous others. However, box braids along with a plethora of other plaited styles started in Africa as far back as 3500 B.C. Furthermore, in case you're a genuine history buff, you may be satisfied to hear that specialists say the braided interlaces of today are not too different from those worn by individuals of Namibia and the Nile Valley many moon ago.
Keep reading because we've gathered key information you need to help plan your hair appointment at Strands of Beauty, along with master tips from many trusted master braiders (also known as a hair subject matter expert 15+ yrs experience). Here is what you need to know to prepare:
👤 Meet The Experts:
Ethena Profit: Master Braider with more than100k hours of braiding and over 50k hours of instructing braiders. Owner of Strands of Beauty, Strands of Beauty Institute of Braiding and Beauty Business Development, The Braid Boss Podcast, Ethena's Play Pen and The Strands of Beauty International Hair & Beauty Expo. Her time is divided between her salons and beauty schools in Atlanta, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kisha L: Master Braider with more than 35 years experience in braids, color, cutting, weaves, extensions, and instructing. Owner of Kreations by Kisha and regional manager of Strands of Beauty South. She has been a managing supervisor and lead instructor with Strands of Beauty since 2011.
WHY BOX BRAIDS?
Anyone heard of "long hair don't care"? Box braids give that long hair, cute & urban vibe. They are healthy, affordable, and long lasting. The best part of the why, is longevity. You can easily get a good 3+ months wear out of box braids, depending on the size.
WHAT ARE BOX BRAIDS?
For the newbies, box braids are constructed using three strands of hair braided off the scalp. While not all box braids are equal, the construction of the braid is basically the same. What's more, not at all like cornrows, box braids are braided off the scalp—hair is divided into correctly molded squares, arches, or triangle, or free part also called "boxes". The braid is started on the scalp, incorporating the client's natural hair and braiding hair. Then the combination of the hairs are braided until the end of the length the extension. o you can shake your detached plaits however much you might want.
Kanekalon, Spectra, Toyokalon and other engineered fibers are primarily used in most box braid styles. Interestingly, human hair can also be used for a more natural look, however it is not the most popular or affordable option.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRADITIONAL BOX AND KNOTLESS BOX BRAIDS?
Well, well, well, the famous question: What is the difference and why the price difference?
First, the main difference is in the way the completed style looks. Knotless box braids will give a flat look as if your natural hair has been braided without extensions. Knotless box braids are started with natural hair only, then the extension hair is added as the braid is created. Traditional box braids give a fuller look because the box is started with the extension hair.
They are both healthy options. This choice is simply a personal preference. Knotless Box braids tend to cost more because they require more skill and more hair to create the style properly. Traditional box braids will give a bit more longevity because the extension hair tends to cover new growth better.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE LENGTH AND STYLE
The hardest part about getting box braids is deciding on the size and length. Kisha recommends, "when setting an appointment it is best to have a picture of the braids you want as a point of reference. Knowing the size and length you want prior to your appointment allows the salon to prep for your desired look. "
Always consider your lifestyle and the reason for getting box braids. If you are planning on a cruise or beach vacation, ask yourself, "How will I style my vacation braids"? On the other hand if you know you are the team mom and will be super busy, even to the point of only have 4 hours or less for your hair appointment, then a larger, mid back length will be the way to go.
Beside considering the environment you'll be in, Ethena reminds us to think about the strength of your hair. Be honest with yourself and your expectations. If your hair is thin or you any hair loss issues/concerns, consider a larger shorter braid. Braids help your hair grow and you should always focus on the health of your hair. If you have any hair issue, I recommend that you choose a medium size box ( two finger tips or larger) and avoid micros.
DOES IT HURT?
The saying that beauty is pain is a myth. Braids should never "hurt". Yes, you may feel some discomfort, but you should never be in pain. Anytime you fee serious pain you may be at risk for the infamous traction alopecia. This occurs if the braids are too tight or if braids are repeatedly placed in the the same pattern over many many months. It is best to talk to your braider and say when something feels too discomforting.
At Strands of Beauty, our motto is " we do it right and not tight". That means, that we listen to the client and adjust grip according to the comfort of the client.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
The length of time you will be in the chair depends on several factors:
The speed of the braider
Style you choose ( length & size)
How many breaks are taken throughout the service
Type of hair used
"I'm JUST BEING HONEST" (said in my best Andre3000 voice): Please, if you choose a long, small, micro, ect box braids be prepared to sit for 8+ hours. Also keep in mind that the smaller they are, the longer the last. In essence the longer you sit, the longer they last. 😉
The standard time for medium, mid back length traditional box braids is 6 hours.
HOW DO I CARE FOR BOX BRAIDS?
Box braids are best cared for with a leave in conditioning spray, a consistent night regime and scalp care. It is most important to keep the scalp healthy and moisturized when wearing this style.
Using a growth oil for the scalp and braids are the best way to maintain a smooth look. Each night, place the braids in a ponytail, moisturize, and place in a braid bonnet.
Thinking of getting some box braids? We can help! Click here to inquire about a box braids appointment by one of our trained professional braiders in your area.
Want to learn how to perfect the art of box braids and become one of our trained professional braiders? Click here to learn about our braid school.