In this article:
Box braids are a well-known hairstyle around the world. They originated in Africa as a protective hairstyle for black hair, (1) but nowadays, women with all hair types aspire to try this style out.
It is a hairstyle where hair is divided into square or rectangular sections and then braided.
Box braids can be easily personalized as the individual braids can vary in size, length, and style, which is why everyone can enjoy their unique take on these braids.
Moreover, box braids are typically assembled using artificial or human hair extensions to add some length and volume to natural hair.
However, there’s a common question that often follows these braids: do box braids damage hair? The simple answer is yes! Box braids can damage hair. (2)
To learn how they damage hair and how to prevent this damage, read on.
How Do Box Braids Damage Hair?
The impact of box braids on hair depends on various factors, including how they are braided, maintained, and taken out. Here are some factors to keep in mind about the damaging effects of box braids.
Getting box braids now and then without giving your hair a break can be daunting for your locks.
According to research, people who get braids done very frequently have hair fiber damage and also have thinner hair. Frequent braiding also puts them at risk for alopecia. (2)
There are enough studies to prove the association between tight hairstyles and hair loss from traction alopecia. (3)
Thus, it’s important to convey to your braider not to pull your hair too tightly during the process to ensure hair health.
The weight of the artificial or human hair extensions used for box braids can put a strain on your natural hair. This undue weight, particularly when combined with intense braiding, can cause breakage or thinning of natural hair. (4)
Many people often neglect proper care while wearing box braids, which gradually contributes to hair damage. Failing to hydrate the scalp, not cleaning the scalp regularly, and not protecting the hair at night can lead to dryness, dandruff, and breakage.
Wearing box braids for a very long period without giving your natural hair a much-needed break can lead to a lot of hair issues.
Experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine suggest removing hair extensions after 8 weeks. (5) So, it’s important to plan regular breaks between braiding to allow your hair to relax and recover.
How to Prevent Hair Damage from Box Braids?
While box braids have the potential to cause damage, you can take action to lower these risks and maintain healthy hair.
Search thoroughly and choose an experienced braider who can put in your box braids without excessive tension on your hair and scalp.
Also, keep talking to them about what feels right. You should let them know if it feels too tight.
Go for hair extensions that are lightweight to decrease the overall pressure on your natural hair. Synthetic extensions are usually lighter than human hair.
Getting box braids doesn’t mean that your hair care responsibility is over. You need to keep your scalp moisturized and clean while wearing them.
Try to use a satin or silk pillowcase to reduce friction and protect your hair while sleeping. You can also apply a weightless scalp oil or moisturizer to prevent dryness and itching.
Do your best to avoid wearing box braids for very long periods. You should get them done for a maximum of 8-12 weeks, and then give your hair a vacation from all the styling before getting a new set.
When it’s finally time to say bye-bye to your box braids, be gentle. Start with a layer of detangling spray or hair conditioner to ease the process and minimize hair breakage.
Why Should You Get Box Braids?
Box braids are a great style to rock for several reasons.
Box braids require very little daily styling and can survive for weeks and sometimes even months.
Box braids can be worn around in many ways, from straightforward buns and ponytails to detailed updos and creative designs.
Box braids protect naturally textured and curly hair such as black hair from knotting and tangling.
Box braids hold cultural and historical importance in many societies, making them an emblem of individuality and identity for many. (1)
How long can I wear a set of box braids?
Box braids last for around 12 weeks or 3 months.
How do I cleanse box braids?
Use shampoo on your hair and scalp once in 15 days to cleanse your box braids and scalp.
Is it expensive to get box braids?
Box braids can cost $50 to $500.
Box braids are an incredible and sensible hairstyle choice for many, but their impact on hair health can sometimes be negative.
While they have the potential to cause damage, following best practices can help you enjoy the benefits of box braids while preserving the health and integrity of your natural hair.