Box braids are a popular and versatile hairstyle for women with natural hair. They are often preferred for their low maintenance, durability, and protective qualities.
Box braids can last for weeks, even months, with the right care and maintenance. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to take care of your box braids to ensure they look good for longer and prevent any damage to your hair.
Why You Should Take Care of Box Braids
We’ve been going on and on about caring for box braids but knowing why you should care for box braids might be the wake-up call. Taking care of box braids is important for several reasons:
- Prevents hair breakage: Box braids can put a lot of tension on your hair, which can lead to hair breakage and damage if not taken care of properly. By taking care of your box braids, you can prevent hair breakage and maintain the health of your hair.
- Maintains the longevity of your braids: Box braids can last for weeks, even months, with proper care. By taking care of your braids, you can maintain their longevity and keep them looking good for longer.
- Prevents buildup on your scalp: Box braids can cause buildup on your scalp if not taken care of properly. This can lead to dandruff and other scalp issues. By washing your braids regularly and moisturizing your scalp, you can prevent buildup and keep your scalp healthy.
- Promotes hair growth: Taking breaks between braiding and allowing your hair to rest and recover can promote hair growth. By taking care of your hair and scalp, you can encourage healthy hair growth and prevent damage.
- Reduces itching and discomfort: Box braids can cause itching and discomfort if not taken care of properly. By washing your braids regularly, moisturizing your scalp, and avoiding tight braids, you can reduce itching and discomfort.
How to Take Care of Box Braids: 10 Easy Steps
Box braids cost a pretty penny but they are worth it! However, it would be a deal breaker if they are not kept in long enough for you to get a good run for your money. If you find yourself pondering how to extend the longevity of box braids, read on!
1. Protect your braids while sleeping
It is essential to protect your braids while sleeping to prevent them from getting tangled or frizzy. Use a satin or silk pillowcase to reduce friction between your hair and the pillow.
You can also use a satin or silk bonnet to protect your hair while you sleep. Sleeping with box braids can be a bit uncomfortable but it doesn’t have to follow the right techniques and with a proper nighttime care regimen.
These materials have a smooth surface area allowing for an easier glide with the braids, which is in contrast with the cotton sheets which tend to tug and pull at the braids due to the rougher surfaces encouraging frizz, inevitably, shortening the braid’s time span.
2. Wash your braids regularly
It is essential to wash your braids regularly to keep them clean and fresh. Use a gentle shampoo to clean your scalp and braids. In the wash process, the essential focus should be placed on the scalp, and do not rub the braids vigorously, as this can cause them to unravel. Afterward, rinse thoroughly.
After washing your braids, it is important to condition them to keep them soft and prevent them from drying out. Use a leave-in conditioner or a diluted conditioner to avoid buildup on your scalp. Apply the conditioner to the braids in the same manner as the shampoo, messaging it in, then rinse thoroughly.
3. Oil your scalp
To keep your scalp hydrated and healthy, it is essential to oil it regularly. Use natural oils like coconut oil, jojoba oil, or tea tree oil to massage your scalp gently. These oils will also help to prevent dandruff and an itchy scalp.
Additionally, massaging oils to the scalp stimulates blood flow to the hair follicles promoting healthy hair development.
4. Avoid using heavy products
While it is essential to moisturize your hair, it is equally important to avoid using heavy products that can weigh down your hair or cause buildup on your scalp. Use lightweight products like hair milk or water-based moisturizers to keep your hair hydrated.
5. Avoid pulling your braids too tight
Tight braids can cause hair breakage and damage to your scalp. It is essential to ensure that your braids are not too tight. If you feel any discomfort or tightness, loosen them immediately.
As much as we love styling our braids, it must be done with care to avoid thinning edges and hair loss arising from the excessive pressure on the hair and scalp.
6. Don’t keep your braids for too long
Box braids can last for weeks, but it is important not to keep them for too long. Keeping your braids for too long can cause damage to your hair and scalp. It is recommended to keep them for a maximum of six to eight weeks.
7. Trim fly-aways
To keep your braids looking prim and proper after a couple of weeks, grab a pair of shears or scissors and carefully trim flyaways making sure to note where your natural hair ends and the extension begins. It is advised to enlist the help of a friend or professional to avoid cutting off your braids accidentally.
8. Keep a Braid Spray or Mousse Handy
Frizz is inevitable with box braids, and the good thing is it can be fought against. A braid spray or a hair mousse is just what you need to rejuvenate the braids and keep them looking fresh and smooth again.
9. Style your edges
Styling your edges is one great way to up your braids game while still looking sleek! Nothing stays polished and properly cared for like well-laid and sleek baby hair.
There are so many edge-smoothing products such as conditioners, gels, creams, and edge brushes, to help achieve your desired look. However, ensure to use alcohol-free products as they can cause drying, and do not apply the products every single day to avoid buildup and white patches in some cases.
10. Spritz your scalp
You might also want to think about purchasing a mist bottle that contains water or spray liquid mixed with herbal extracts and essential oil(s) – like tea tree. These mixtures have been proven to be extremely effective at maintaining and protecting hair.
Tea tree oil is a natural astringent that can be soothing to the scalp and a cleansing agent, it possesses antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties making it suited for combating bacteria, fungus, and yeast and capable of fighting against dandruff and some scalp diseases.
Tea tree oil is potent and can be irritating to the scalp if applied directly. Therefore, it is essential to dilute it with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil, coconut oil, or olive oil. Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil. Afterwards, section the braids for easier access to the scalp and apply. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, and give a thorough rinse making sure no residue is left behind. After that, add moisturizing products.