I’ve always talked about long term protective styles, but I haven’t actually done one since starting my hair journey. A major element to my personal journey is that I do my hair myself. Taking control of my hair, learning to be self sufficient, and doing things on my own terms is what makes this exciting for me. But being d.i.y. has also been why I haven’t done these long term protective styles. I just didn’t trust my skill set. However, something came over me this weekend and I decided to give it a try.
I chose box braids as my protective style. I watched a few youtube tutorials and read some articles on how to box braid. Once I wrapped my head around it, the next thing I knew I was walking into the beauty supply store. I chose X-pression 100% Kanekalon hair and I bought 4 packs. I chose this brand because the reviews said that it would give me less fly aways than other brands. Also, even though this brand costs more than other brands it has twice as much hair as other brands. And that may be right because I ended up using only two packs of this hair.
My Goals for Creating Box Braids
Not too long. The hair in the pack was so long (see picture above — it’s folded in half). The hair came down to my calves folded in half (which is how I would have braided it). That was way too long. So I cut the hair in half before proceeding which brought it to about waist length (still folded in half).
Not too heavy. I wanted to avoid the weight of the braids putting too much stress on my hair strands. I kept that in mind as I planned these braids out. So, first off, I made sure maximize the amount of my hair that was in each braid — making the “boxes” fairly large. My hope was that having more of my hair in each braid would help to support the synthetic hair and minimize the tension. (An added bonus to this was that the bigger boxes would mean less braids and less time to install.)
Not too big. I also kept each individual braid as small as possible. To accomplish this, I matched the amount of hair I used in each braid to the thickness of my hair in the boxed section. If you look at the first image in the picture above, all three strands of that braid are about the same size. My hair is on the right and the two strands of synthetic hair are on the left.
How I Did With The Box Braids
As you can see from the pictures, the braids started out a little rough. But I just kept trying to get better with each braid. By the time I was on the third row, my braids were substantially better. If I have one tip for novices like myself, it would be to take your time. Yes, the prospect of the installation of these braids taking upwards of 10-12 hours is enough to put a little pep in your step. But you’ll be much happier with the results if you take your time. In the end it took me a little under 8 and half hours to get through these braids.
Synthetic hair does dry out our natural hair. Hoping to combat that, I saturated each section/box of my hair with my leave-in conditioner (Elasta QP Olive Oil and Mango Butter Leave-in) prior to braiding it with the synthetic hair. Then I followed the steps in the video. Luckily, I already had the Creme of Nature Argan Oil Edge Control mentioned in the video. Before braiding, I applied that to root of each box for hold and smoothness. Once all the box braids were installed, I set the ends of the braids (to keep them from unravelling). To do this I dipped them into boiling water for 30 seconds.
Here are the finished box braids!