Protective Hairstyle for College: Box Braids

box braids protective style

I’ve been wanting to get long box braids for forever, so I was really happy when I did them a few weeks ago! I think they can be a great protective style if they aren’t too tight. They’re perfect for me because I’m currently struggling to get through the first semester of medical school. It’s a great relief to not have to worry about styling my wash and go every week.

 

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The Best Braiding Experience Ever

I got my hair done at Camkes Beauty Solutions (@camkesbeautysolutions on Instagram). If you’re in Jamaica and in the Kingston area, I definitely recommend going there to get your braids done.

It was the best braiding experience I’ve ever had. It didn’t feel like my scalp was on fire. I didn’t get any tiny bumps on my edges because of tension. And I did not cry when I got home. Trust me …  I was actually smiling when she was done.

My stylist used 8 packs of kanekalon hair and it took about 5 hours. I know that may seem long, but it’s relatively short. I got almost butt-length hair, and normally it takes about 8 hours to do braids that long.

Box Braid Care

Most people I know generally try to keep their braids in for about two months. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before … I think I usually take mine out at the 1.5 month mark. My hair is dark brown, not black. And to top it off, I have natural hair, so of course it frizzes way more easily. Because of this, I try not to wet my braids too often. But I don’t shy away from washing because I do tend to get an itchy scalp.

For an Itchy Scalp

In a spray bottle, I combine a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar in a very dilute ratio. Maybe five parts water to one part apple cider vinegar. I spray the apple cider vinegar directly onto my scalp and massage it with the pads of my fingers. I leave it on for a few minutes then move on to my regular cleansing regimen.

My Cleansing Regimen

This is nothing too fancy, really. I split my braids in half down the middle and work with it in halves. It can get a bit bulky and heavy. When shampooing, I focus mainly on my scalp. I massage it well until I think it’s clean or until the apple cider vinegar smell goes away (if I used apple cider vinegar prior to cleansing). When that’s done, I rinse the shampoo out and apply conditioner. I don’t apply conditioner to my scalp, just to the top 1/4 of my braids, where my actual hair is. Like any conditioner, I leave it on for a couple minutes without rinsing.

After that, I squeeze out as much water as I can before leaving the shower so I can minimise dripping as much as possible. To do that, I split my hair into quarters so it’s more manageable. And when that’s all done, I wrap my hair in a towel for a few minutes so it can soak up some of the water. By the time I take the towel off, it’s usually thoroughly soaked and my hair, although drier, will still be dripping. I then apply my leave-in conditioner (Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-In) to the top 1/4 of my braids.

Some people might limit this to once a month, but I’m one to do this every 2-3 weeks. I know it means my style won’t last as long, but I can’t stand having an itchy scalp.

Freshen Your Box Braids

If your ends are beginning to look frizzy, doing a quick hot water rinse will make your hair look fresh again. I don’t mean hot water from the shower, I’m talking boiling water from a kettle. You can either dip your hair in hot water in sections, or you can carefully throw the hot water on your ends or the lower part of the braids.  Try not to go up too far so you don’t pour hot water on your actual hair. (Note that I said your ends, not your scalp. Please don’t pour boiling water on your scalp!) Doing this will tame flyways and neaten your braids to some extent.

Also, if your hair is beginning to grow out and you don’t like how it looks but you’d like to keep your braids for longer, you could redo the perimeter. Kudos to you if you can do that. I wish I could!

Moisturising Regimen

I don’t actually have a moisturising regimen and I know that’s awful. One of the things with protective styling is that we tend to forget our hair under there and we don’t take care of it. That’s what causes breakage. In order to prevent that, it’s good to have a moisturising regimen in place. Here is what I recommend (and what I plan to start doing so I’ll be practising what I preach):

At least weekly, spritz your braids with water and apply a little of your leave-in conditioner. You may add a very light sealant like a cream, or something. But I don’t recommend applying anything too heavy to your braids because it’s very easy to get product (and smell!) buildup.

I don’t deep condition my hair when it’s in braids, but after I take them out, I hope to have a nice, long, well-needed deep conditioning session.

I hope this helped you in some way or inspired you! Drop me a comment to let me know what you think about box braids, if you’ve ever done them or would do them.

Until next time,

 

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