I’m taking my box braids out next week! And as I make plans for my real hair, I can’t help but reflect on my experience with box braids as a long term protective style. When I take them out, they will have been in for 6 weeks! And that is definitely the longest protective style I’ve done since starting my hair journey. I’m looking forward to working with my hair again, but first let me tell you about these box braids. And maybe after getting a glimpse into my experience, you may (or may not) be interested in trying box braids out for yourself.
My Experience With Box Braids
Installing the Box Braids: It took just under 8 hours to install these box braids. I used X-pression 100% Kanekalon synthetic hair in the color 2. I only used 2 packs of this hair after cutting it in half. Once I completed the install I dipped the ends of the hair into boiling water to secure the loose ends. I was skeptical of loose ends but 5 weeks later the braids haven’t unravelled. Total cost to install my box braids was $9.98 for the hair and 8 hours of my time. (For a full review of the installation process: Read Here)
Maintaining My Box Braids
The Downsides: Using synthetic hair was cost effective, but I was aware of the two major cons to using synthetic hair. First it is drying to your natural hair. And many people, myself included, experience scalp itchiness from the chemicals used on the hair to make it heat resistant. But I found a way to deal with both those issues.
Dealing with Scalp Itchiness: The first day with the braids, my scalp was a bit itchy. I ended up heavily spraying the braids and my scalp with apple cider vinegar on day one and day two. It’s pretty amazing how well that worked because after that, my scalp was fine.
Avoiding Dryness: Every 2-4 days, I sprayed my hair with either water or aloe vera juice and then coated the hair with olive oil.
Washing my Hair in Braids: I washed my hair at 3 weeks. My main concern was frizziness. So, I coated my scalp and braids with As I Am Coconut Cowash, rinsed and towel dried. I sprayed Aphogee Keratin Reconstructor and Aloe Vera Juice before blow drying the braids. After blow drying, I coated my hair with olive oil. (Side note: it ended up taking about 24 hours for my braids to dry 100%.) After this wash day, my scalp felt clean and my hair didn’t get too frizzy.
Sleeping: I kept my hair tied back with a satin scarf, but the braids hung out of the bottom of my scarf. So, I also bought a satin braid bonnet to cover the bottom half of my braids. This kept the entire length of my hair protected at night.
Would I do it again?
I will be removing these braids next weekend and that will make it 6 weeks with these box braids. It was a very nice break from the weekly/daily work of a hair journey. Deep conditioning is probably the only thing that I missed — it is my favorite thing to do to my hair, lol. But other than that I enjoyed not having to think about my hair on a daily basis. The good news is that I actually have two extra packs of hair. And right now, the plan is to do them again in May. It took a long time to install, but for 5-6 weeks I was not really thinking about my hair beyond moisturizing– it’s a good trade off. I’ll be back next week with the state of my hair after removing the braids.