Picture credit: @cecilialaulanne
How long do box braids last? How long should I keep my box braids in? How do I take proper care of my box braids to keep them looking fresh? If you’ve been searching for the answers to these questions, you are in the right place. Today, we will be discussing all you need to know about maintaining your box braids for as long as possible so keep reading.
How long do box braids last?
You may have seen or heard of some people keeping their box braids in for as long as 12 or even 16 weeks but according to All Things Hair resident hairstylist, Elena Diaz, you should not keep them in for that long. “Box braids can last from 4 to 6 weeks. 6 weeks is the most time I would recommend keeping them in your hair and two months is the absolute max I would suggest leaving your box braids in,” she advises.
Why is this? you may wonder.
Award-winning hairstylist, Jennifer Cherilus, explains that you need to take down your protective style (box braids) at eight weeks at most so you can properly cleanse your scalp and let it breathe. “When you leave any hairstyle in too long, there’s nowhere for those (natural) oils, (dead) skin cells, and shed hair to escape. So those things sit underneath your wig, your sew-in, your crochet braids—whatever style—and they start to build-up on your scalp,” she told Buzzfeed.
Tips to Make Your Box Braids Last Longer
Now, whether you’re keeping your braids in for four weeks or eight, you will notice that after the first week or two, it may start to look a bit not-so-fresh. While this is perfectly normal, there are some things you can do to help it look neater in appearance.
1. Snip out the flyaways
Flyaways are strands of hairs that pull apart (they don’t come off) from the braids to stand on their own, thus giving the braids a disheveled look. They usually start to appear on the shaft of your box braids (and the roots if you scratch them) a few days after you’ve had the hairstyle installed. You can get rid of these to keep your box braids looking fresh by trimming the flyaways along the hair shaft of the extension with a pair of hair scissors. However, if you did your box braids with your natural hair only and not with the addition of hair extensions, you may want to embrace the flyaways as trimming will only reduce your hair length.
2. Wash every two weeks
Products, sweat, dirt, and dust can accumulate on your scalp and hair leading to itching, flaking, and odor. As such, it is advisable to wash your box braids every two weeks with a mild shampoo and conditioner to get rid of these build-ups and leave your scalp and braids feeling clean and fresh. If you are skeptical about or uncomfortable with pouring water on your braids and washing them, you can dip finger-sized cotton balls in shampoo diluted with water and use that to gently scrub your scalp. Wipe the shampoo suds by dipping cotton balls into clean water and rubbing it on your scalp. Use the same method to apply conditioner to your hair. After that, thoroughly dry with a hair dryer and moisturize with a lightweight hair oil or hair moisturizing cream.
3. Style your edges
You’ll agree with me that styling your baby’s hairs can help give your box braids a neat appearance even if it’s a few weeks old and the roots of your hair are not as tight as they originally were. With your edge brush and edge control, get your edges laid sleek and flat in any style of your choice.
4. Avoid re-twisting
In a bid to get their box braids to remain firm, some wearers like to re-twist them at the roots. While this may achieve the goal of helping the hair to be firm, it can also be detrimental. Re-twisting puts tension on the natural hair at its roots and this may cause it to break or shed. As such, it is advisable to avoid re-twisting.
5. Never go to bed without your satin or silk scarf on
It is essential for you to wrap your hair in a satin or silk scarf to bed as this helps prevent dryness and minimize flyaways that can happen as a result of turning and tossing your head on your pillow or bed.
6. Wear a shower cap
Water splashing on your box braids whether intentionally or not can mess up its neat appearance. Worse is, if the braids don’t get dried, you may start to experience itching or other discomfort. As such, it is advisable that you wear a shower cap on your box braids before hitting the bathroom.
7. Oil your box braids
Oils help to give your hair the moisture it needs to stay healthy and brighten its appearance. You can use lightweight oils like jojoba oil or argan oil to give your braids some much-needed shine.
8. Turn them into curls
Did you know that instead of taking your box braids out completely, you can turn them into a curly hairdo? This can be done by cutting the braids – if done with extension – from the desired length (as long as they’re a safe distance from where your natural hair stops), unraveling all the way up and stopping some three to two inches away from the base. The result of this is a new hairstyle – bouncy curls that you can rock for some extra days.
Read next: 12 Ways to Style Your Box Braids