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How to Make Your Braids Last

December 18, 2020

1 Min read

The installation of fresh box braids is an instant mood booster. Not only does the protective style look great, but it also means a break from the daily manipulation of your hair. Because box braids are a low maintenance protective style, it might be tempting to say goodbye to your daily or weekly hair routine altogether. But caring for your hair is just as important, even when it’s protected. Here, we’ll share a few tips and tricks to help you keep your hair and scalp in tip-top condition while you give yourself a break from day-to-day styling. 

Use a nozzled bottle for your shampoo

We know that keeping your new box braids frizz-free is top priority. However, protecting your scalp and hair health is always number one. Washing your hair with box braids is easier than it seems. Decanting your shampoo in a bottle with a long nozzle tip makes it simple to directly apply your cleansers to your scalp. That way, you don’t need to use your fingers to spread the shampoo, which can disrupt your hair. Dividing your braids into four to six sections and applying the shampoo section by section will ensure you haven’t left any part of your scalp uncleansed.

Don’t skip the leave-in conditioner

Using a cream leave-in doesn’t quite work with box braids, but that doesn’t mean you can’t apply one. Mixing your cream leave-in with water in a continuous spray bottle offers a DIY option for adding moisture to your hair post-wash or when your hair is thirsty for moisture. We love a good DIY trick, but it can be beneficial to invest in a leave-in made for protective styles that hydrate the hair and soothe the scalp.

Use oil sparingly

Growing up, you may have been encouraged to oil your scalp when it is dry or itchy, which isn’t bad when done right. The amount of oil we apply is important. Four to eight drops of oil are all you need for your entire head to help prevent buildup. For an extra hair and self-care boost, give yourself a gentle scalp massage. Five minutes of scalp TLC stimulates blood circulation while giving you a mental health boost. 

Love on your edges

With braids comes tension, well, sometimes— especially when you’re leaning into a ‘90s Janet Jackson-inspired ponytail or a high bun. While these styles are on our list of beauty dos, wearing your hair up too often with box braids can add stress to your edges and cause breakage. If you find your edges feeling tight or irritated, apply a couple of drops of your go-to oil to your fingertips and gently massage onto your edges.

Have mousse on standby

After washing your hair, you might see some frizz crop up. Don’t fret. There are a few ways to keep the frizz under wraps (literally and figuratively). Apply a water-based foaming mousse to the base of your box braids and tie your hair down with a silk or satin scarf while your hair dries. This step will set your natural hair and help prevent frizz. If you have a hooded hair dryer, sit under the dryer for up to 30 minutes to ensure your hair is dried thoroughly.

Wear a jumbo bonnet at night that doesn’t tug at your edges

A jumbo bonnet is a gamechanger for any protective style. Invest in an extra-large silk or satin bonnet with a flat band-like design so that the elastic doesn’t rub against your edges to prevent breakage.

Don’t leave braids in beyond their expiration date 

Leaving braids in beyond their removal date is tempting, however, this can do more harm than good. When braids are left in too long, you risk matting, breakage, and knotting. If you do want to leave your braids in longer, chat with a professional for their recommendation to ensure you’re doing what’s best for your hair.


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Bianca Lambert is a freelance journalist. She covers beauty, travel, and culture. Bianca regularly contributes to Byrdie, HuffPost, The Everygirl, and more.