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How to Care for Box Braids: Maintenance Guide

You might want to keep your box braids for as long as possible, but eventually, it isn’t a good idea. Don’t worry; you’ll find out here what happens if you do that. As a professional hair braider, I’ll share tips to maintain your box braids and make them look good even if your roots have already visibly grown.

How to Properly Maintain Your Box Braids

Key Points

  • Avoid rough handling: While it’s not practical to never touch or move your head, being gentle with your box braids can help maintain their freshness.
  • Use satin or silk bedding: Invest in glossy bed sheets to prevent frizz and tangling. They also help reduce wrinkles, offering beauty benefits even when not wearing braids.
  • Wash braids as needed: Clean your braids as often as necessary but do so carefully. Ensure you squeeze them well after washing to prevent them from becoming loose due to added weight.
  • Avoid hair dryers when possible: Using a hair dryer can cause hair electrification and make baby hair come out. Avoid unless necessary to reduce frizz and maintain the neatness of your braids.
  • Wash Carefully and Regularly: Clean braids as needed, squeezing out excess water gently.
  • Avoid Excessive Styling: Over-styling can lead to breakage and roughness.
  • Don’t Overstay Braids: Remove after 5-6 weeks to prevent damage.
  • Moisturize Scalp and Hair: Use spritzes of water and natural oils for the scalp and seal braids with a moisturizer.
  • Protect While Sleeping: Wrap braids in a satin or silk scarf or use a satin bonnet to reduce frizz.
  • Trim Fly-aways Carefully: Know where your natural hair ends to avoid cutting it and control frizz with water-based mousse.
  • Pamper Your Edges: Apply coconut oil and avoid tight products.
  • Spritz Your Scalp: Use a mix of witch hazel, tea tree, lavender oils, and distilled water for scalp health.

First, you should never sleep, touch or move your head, never be in the rain or wind, and stop the growth process of your hair. I’m kidding, but those might be the right reasons for your hairdo starting to lose its freshness.

So, how can you keep your braids looking as fresh as possible?

Making Your Braids Look Fresh
The author, Inashan, rocking her box braids (Photographer Baciu Foto)

My no. 1 tip for keeping your hair away from frizzing, and the best investment you can make for your comfort and beauty, is to use satin or silk bed sheets.

Glossy bedding prevents hair from frizz and tangling while sleeping, and more than that, it also limits the appearance of wrinkles, so it is a great deal that will help you in many aspects without making any other effort.

So, for my first tip, you only have to sleep on better sheets and you’ll have benefits even when you don’t wear box braids.

Sleeping and washing your box braids are the most common things that might cause frizz and make your braids look dated. However, you can’t avoid sleeping; avoiding cleaning them can make them look worse.

My next tip is to wash your braids as many times as you need to do this, but wash them carefully and squeeze them well. Wet braids are heavier, and that can make them loose. Using a hair dryer can cause electrification of the hair, making your baby hair come out, so I do not recommend it if it’s unnecessary.

Here’s What I Do to Take Care of My Braids

#1: Use Satin or Silk Bedding

I use satin or silk bedding to prevent my box braids from frizzing and tangling while I sleep. Not only does it help keep my braids neat, but it also offers the added benefit of reducing wrinkles on my skin.

#2: Wash Carefully and Regularly

I wash my braids as often as necessary but always do so carefully. I gently squeeze out excess water to prevent my braids from becoming loose and heavy. This helps maintain their tightness and overall appearance.

#3: Avoid Excessive Styling

I understand that over-styling can lead to breakage and roughness, so I avoid frequent and tight styling. This helps preserve the integrity of my box braids and keeps my hair healthy.

#4: Don’t Overstay Braids

I make it a point to remove my box braids after about 5-6 weeks. I know that leaving them in too long can cause damage, so I schedule regular maintenance to keep my hair in good condition.

#5: Moisturize Scalp and Hair

To prevent a dry scalp and brittle hair, I regularly spritz water and apply natural oils to my scalp. I also seal my braids with a good moisturizer to keep them shiny and healthy.

#6: Protect While Sleeping

Every night, I wrap my braids in a satin or silk scarf or sleep on a satin pillowcase. This practice helps reduce frizz and keeps my braids looking neat for longer.

#7: Trim Fly-aways Carefully

I’m careful to trim any flyaways, ensuring I know where my natural hair ends and the extensions begin. This prevents accidental cutting of my natural hair and helps maintain the neatness of my braids.

#8: Pamper Your Edges

I regularly moisturize my edges with lightweight oils to avoid damage and falling off. This helps keep them healthy and strong, especially given the tension that box braids can sometimes cause.

#9: Spritz Your Scalp

I often mix witch hazel, tea tree, and lavender oils with distilled water and spray it onto my scalp. This homemade solution keeps my scalp clean and healthy without risking frizz from washing.

#10: Avoid Rough Handling

While it’s not practical to never touch or move my head, I am always gentle with my box braids. Being cautious helps maintain their freshness and prevents unnecessary fraying or loosening.

How to Clean Box Braids The Right Way

When you wash your braids, do it delicately, with the tips of your fingers on your scapula and your hands along your box braids, and don’t use conditioner if you have caucasian hair – only shampoo, which can be diluted with water. Rinse with plenty of water, squeeze the braids as well as you can, and keep them in a towel.

If you don’t clean your braids, you’ll feel like scratching yourself, and that’s not nice. It can also be visibly dirty and start having dandruff or who knows what else.

What Can I Do if I Have Hair Coming Out Of the Braids?

box braids maintenance

You can cut it. I’m kidding; you can only cut it if there are ends you don’t need or if it’s not your natural hair.

Another solution for this problem is to use a special crochet hook, which allows you to insert the strands of hair back inside the braids. You can also do this to the baby hairs or arrange them nicely on the forehead with the help of a mascara brush and hair glue.

If you find fallen hairs with visible roots (like a white dot), caught in braids, you can remove them with a tweezer.

How to Style Box Braids Safely

When you tie your box braids in a ponytail or other styles, try not to tighten them more than they naturally come together. Also, avoid wearing a motorcycle helmet, hats, or less silky materials on your head. You can also use some oil on your braids from time to time to restore their shine.

Depending on whether you have a caucasian or Afro hair type, you’ll need less or more moisturizing. Caucasians have silkier hair, so moisturizing can make the braids loose.

It also triggers the grown roots to show up faster, so you lucky afros, you can keep them longer, but it’s fair enough; as for afro hairs, it’s not just for the love of braids, but they need them, as this type of hair is much more challenging to deal with.

What Can I Do if My Roots Are Visibly Growing?

how to style box braids
Model Inashan wearing box braids with beads, Photographer Baciu Foto

When your roots are growing and you still want to keep your braids on, there are a lot of styles and tricks to make your hairdo look amazing.

Curl your braids and wear buns or different styles that help you hide your roots.

Another trick is to use accessories like scarves or bandanas while styling your braids in ponytails/buns or other hairdos. If you have done this since the beginning of your braids-time, try to use silky fabrics.

You can also try my favorite accessories – jewelry at the roots. It can also be threads or other materials to cover the visibly grown hair.

What Happens if I Don’t Take My Box Braids Out?

It might be tough to say goodbye to your box braids after discovering so many ways you can maintain their fantastic aspect. Despite this fact, I do not recommend keeping them for too long because your natural hair will form dreadlocks, and it will be very difficult, or even impossible, to handle it without damaging it afterward when you finally decide to take them off.

Here’s a picture of some perfect braids kept for way too long (1 year):

Caucasian model

In conclusion, I’d say you can’t keep your braids forever, but you’ll have enough time to try everything on. Instead of trying to do your best to keep them as long as possible, better take care of your hair, too so you can do it again!

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