I've always had trouble finding the time to arrange my natural hair in elaborate braided hairstyles because I'm a busy professional woman. I'm obsessed with the gorgeous box braids and bohemian braids I see on Instagram, but braiding my own hair felt unattainable with my rigorous work schedule and family responsibilities.
That is, until I discovered the world of braided wigs. With the help of a quality braided wig, I can now achieve the stylish braided looks I’ve always dreamed of with ease! In this article, I’ll share my beginner’s journey into box braids, braided wigs for black women, and protective hairstyles. I’ll cover how to choose the right style for your look, tips for caring for and styling your new braids or wigs, and why braided wigs are an easy shortcut to fabulous hair. Whether you’re new to braids or a veteran, I hope my story inspires you to try out these versatile protective styles. Let’s get braiding!
Choosing the Right Box Braid Style
Selecting the style that best suits your needs is the first step to gorgeous box braids. For a novice, there are a lot of alternatives, which might be intimidating. Here are a few of the most well-liked looks along with selection advice:
Box Braids: These classic braids are rectangular parts braided from root to tip. Go for small, medium or large sizes. Small braids are good for intricate styles and medium suit versatile looks.
Boho Braids: This braids have a more free-form look with oval or triangular parts. Boho braids are great for a beachy, bohemian vibe.
Butterfly Braids: Intricate butterfly braids are formed by braiding hair into a butterfly wing shape. They’re one of the more complex but beautiful styles.
Braids with Curly Ends: Adding curly synthetic hair to the ends of box braids gives fun bounce and movement. It’s a great way to change up the look.
When deciding on your perfect braid style, consider your hair length and thickness, lifestyle, and the look you’re going for. If you’re not sure, start with classic medium box braids in a versatile shoulder length. You can always switch it up next time!
Prepping Your Hair for Box Braids
Once you’ve decided on your ideal braided style, it’s time to prep your natural hair. Taking a little time to prep ensures your braids will look neat and last longer. Here are my top tips:
1. Shampoo and deep condition your hair 1-2 days before getting braids. Moisturized hair braids up better and resists damage.
2. Detangle thoroughly with a wide tooth comb or fingers. Work in small sections and use leave-in conditioner to minimize breakage.
3. Consider trimming split or damaged ends so they don’t unravel the braids. Even 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 an inch can improve neatness.
4. Part your hair cleanly and evenly. Define your ideal part pattern with clips or rubber bands before braiding.
5. Use a heat protectant if blow drying or flat ironing hair beforehand. This protects against heat damage which can cause shedding.
While prepping takes a little extra time, it’s worth it to help your braids start off looking fabulous.
Installing Your First Box Braids
Okay, your hair is prepped and you’ve chosen your braid style. Now it’s time for the fun part – installing your very first box braids! While there is a learning curve, don’t be intimidated. It's as simple as installing a knotless braid wig. Follow these tips to make the process as easy as possible:
1. Start with bigger sections if it's your first time braiding. Small sections are trickier for beginners. Once you get the technique, go smaller.
2. Work in organized sections and rows. Part your hair cleanly from ear to ear and nape to crown. Secure sections not being worked on.
3. Use the three-strand braiding method. Cross the left section over the middle, then the right over the middle. Keep strands tight and even.
4. Add braiding hair as you braid down. Feed in extra hair smoothly and slowly to hide where it starts.
5. Dip braiding ends in warm water to seal and prevent unraveling. Roll between fingers to blend with natural hair.
6. Finish off braids with clear elastics or decorative metal cuffs. Tie elastic tightly but not too tight to avoid breakage.
Take your time and don’t rush the process. Box braids require practice and patience. Ask a friend for help or watch online tutorials. Once you get the basic technique down, you’ll be braiding like a pro in no time!
Maintenance Tips for Long-Lasting Box Braids
You did it! Now that your gorgeous box braids are installed, you’ll want to make them last. Follow these maintenance tips and your braids will look fabulous for 4-8 weeks:
1. Tie up braids before bed and use a silk bonnet or pillowcase. This prevents friction that can lead to frizz and unraveling.
2. Gently wash braids 1-2 times per week. Use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner made for braided hair. Avoid heavy scrubbing.
3. Re-dip braid ends in warm water every 1-2 weeks. Roll between fingers to smooth and seal ends. This replenishes moisture and prevents unraveling.
4. Lightly moisturize braids every other day with a braid spray or oil. Focus on the length, not scalp.
5. Gently remove shed hairs using your fingers or a seam ripper. Don’t pull on hair or over-manipulate.
6. Avoid too much heat styling. Let braids air dry versus blow drying on high heat.
7. When exercising or swimming, tie hair up and wear a swim cap. Chlorine and sweat can buildup and loosen braids.
8. Get braids redone or removed after 6-8 weeks max. Leaving braids in too long can damage hair and lead to matting.
Caring for your new braids will keep them neat, healthy and long-lasting. Don’t be afraid to rock your braids with confidence!
Styling Tips for Fabulous Box Braids
The styling options are endless with box braids! From top knots to half ups, braids are fun and easy to style. Here are some of my favorite looks:
1. For a quick style, pull braids into a high ponytail or messy bun on top of your head. Adds a playful vibe and gets hair off your neck.
2. Part braids to one side and pin back for a chic, asymmetric look. Vary the part location day-to-day.
3. Two strand twists in the front framing your face soften the look. Just twist two braids together on each side.
4. For volume, gently pull apart and fluff braids. Add mousse or setting lotion to reduce frizz.
5. Embellish with fun hair jewelry like cuffs, beads or cowrie shells. Gold and wooden pieces give an earthy, boho feel.
6. Wrap braids into a goddess crown. Pile braids on top of your head in a circular pattern and pin in place. Boho chic!
Let your creativity run wild when it comes to styling your new braids! Change up your look daily or weekly.
Upon experimenting with box braids on my own natural hair as well as braided wigs such as those available from FANCIVIVI, I discovered that the wig shortcut was a practical choice for my hectic schedule. As a novice to braided hair, FANCIVIVI's wigs made it simple for me to create the box braid looks I adore while also shielding my natural hair underneath.
I can switch up my appearance with their assortment of ready-to-wear braided wigs in various lengths and fashionable styles, ranging from boho goddess braids to traditional box braids and everything in between. By choosing a wig, I was able to experience the carefree and enjoyable aspects of rocking without having to deal with the frustration of learning to braid.