Box braids are a fantastic option for a protective hairstyle. Essentially, box braids are individual plaits that have been divided into small boxes, leading to an always trendy and versatile style that can be put up in a ponytail or left alone as-is. 

If you want to get box braids but are wondering, “how long do box braids last?” we’ve got you covered. As we like to think, box braids reveal the goddess in us all. So it’s important to keep your braids healthy and know what to expect before you sit down for your day at the salon. If you’re searching for a braider in your area, book hair appointments online with StyleSeat. 

Continue for more info about box braid longevity, along with some handy tips for maintenance!

How Long Do Box Braids Last?

Oftentimes, before people invest in box braids, they want to know how long they last. Of course, the question of “how long can you keep box braids in?” has a lot to do with your own unique hair, how you treat it, and what preventative measures you take to keep it healthy. 

On average, box braids tend to last between four to six weeks. Most experts say that although it’s fine to leave your braids in for one month, you don’t want to keep them in any longer than two months. If you’re curious how long they last, you might also question “how much do box braids cost?” Price varies and it depends on the style.

Similar to when you leave other protective hairstyles in for too long — such as cornrows or crochet braids — when your box braids are in, your scalp can’t breathe. Some stylists say the scalp is an extension of the other skin on your body, and when that skin is covered, the natural oils and dead skin cells have nowhere to go, which causes them to build up on the scalp.

Different Factors That Impact Braids’ Longevity

There are quite a few factors that can impact braids’ longevity. Now that you’re more familiar with how long box braids last, here are some elements that can cause your “braid time” to fluctuate.

Personal Hair Growth Rate

One of the primary reasons some people’s braids last longer than others has to do with hair growth rate. If your hair grows at a quicker speed, your braids will grow out faster, leading you to have to redo them more often. If your hair grows slower, on the other hand, you won’t have to get your braids redone as frequently. 

Keep in mind that even if your hair grows slower, you still shouldn’t overdo it and go past that two-month mark. Also, remember to give your braids time to recover in between sets. Give your scalp and your hair one month to recuperate is a good rule of thumb.

Tight vs. Loose

The question, “how long can you keep box braids in?” has a lot to do with your hair type and your scalp. Generally speaking, it’s ideal if you can find the perfect balance between braids that aren’t too tight or too loose. Tight braids might tug at the hairline, while braids that are too loose might come undone. So, finding that balance will help keep your braids intact and aid in their longevity. 

Products

Although box braids are a low-maintenance protective style, it’s important that you come up with a daily routine plan to keep your locks looking (and feeling) good. Leave-in conditioners, scalp oils, and hair wraps are all good products to explore. 

Box Braid Length

The size of your box braids can also be an indicator for answering how long box braids last. Micro box braids, or thin braids, can actually last for up to three months. This is because this particular type of braids has smaller parting sections, which allows more access to your scalp. More access means you can moisturize and wash your braids more easily and keep them healthy.

Jumbo box braids, on the other hand, don’t last as long as traditional box braids and certainly not as long as micro braids. Once you hit that six-week mark, you’ll be more than ready to give your scalp a rest, then go back for a braid re-do. 

Maintenance Tips for Box Braids

Now that we’ve covered how long you can keep box braids in, let’s talk about tips for extending the life of the braids. Box braids, as we’ve mentioned, are a low maintenance type of protective style. However, it’s important to keep up with your braids with things like washing or moisturizing. 

Moisturize 

There are a few different ways you can moisturize your braids to keep them healthy. Whether it’s hot oils, braid sprays, or even just a simple yet effective spritz of water, here’s how to appropriately moisturize your beautiful braids. 

Hot oils

Take it from the professionals at Kink and Coil: heat up a blend of coconut oil, grapeseed oil, castor oil, and extra virgin olive oil, then sit with the mixture in your hair for 30 minutes to one hour. You can either rinse it out with shampoo or co-wash. Making this a part of your weekly routine will help keep your box braids moisturized. 

Braid sprays

If you’re looking to give your braids some extra moisture, opt for a braid spray. Braid sprays can be utilized on the scalp for already braided hair. Although the magical spray bottle can work wonders for keeping the hair conditioned, they also help with adding some extra shine. Depending on what spray you choose, braid sprays can also reduce itchiness, offer a pleasant fragrance, and be used on both natural and synthetic hair. 

Water

Surprisingly, a spritz of water mixed with some light oil is a wonderfully easy way to keep your hair hydrated on a daily basis. Water or water-based products penetrate the braids and moisturize the braids. 

Leave-In Conditioner

A leave-in conditioner is another great way to moisturize your lovely locks. Look around for a conditioner that closely matches your hair type (like curly hair or color-treated hair). If you have synthetic hair in your braids, a conditioner with protein in it can help to strengthen your natural hair.

Wash

No discussion about how long box braids last is complete without talking about washing! Washing helps get rid of product build-up, but it also helps to clean your scalp and get rid of dandruff and bacteria too. Washing your scalp can help to prolong the life of your braids and ensure your hair is kept healthy and happy. Before you get these hairstyles, you should look into how to wash box braids for proper care

If you don’t have time to do a full-on wash, dry shampoo is a good option, too. Look for a hydrating dry shampoo, which can add moisture back to the scalp and keep your braids from feeling dry and itchy. 

Night Care

Part of how long box braids last has to do with your night care routine. Practicing proper night care can help to reduce friction for your braids, which can aid in their preservation. To extend the life of your braids, spray your hair with a leave-in conditioner or water. If your hair feels dry, massage some oil into the ends. From there, if it’s comfortable, wear something over your braids to protect them (like a silk hair wrap). 

Touch-Ups

When your hair starts to grow in, you’ll notice that your braids need to be touched up. Thankfully, you don’t have to redo the entire head of braids. Instead, freshen up the braids along the hairline, and you’ll be good to go.

Anti-Itch Oil

Picking or scratching your braids can lead to damage. If you want to see your braids protected and keep yourself from feeling itchy, use an anti-itch oil on your scalp every couple of days. The key is to use a cotton ball to coat the scalp (without soaking the braids).

Avoid Overstyling

The most protective styles for box braids are those that don’t pull or add too much tension. We know how tempting it can be to style your braids every day — fancy updo or ballerina bun, anyone? — but it’s critical to remember that over-styling your box braids can lead to loose braids, which can lead to a quicker visit to the salon chair. The pulling can also harm your natural hair and lead to hair loss.

Trim Flyaways

With box braids, your stylist will typically trim your flyaways to keep the braids looking their best. Although you can also do this at home, the key is to be absolutely sure where your natural hair ends and the synthetic hair begins. Otherwise, you end up giving your natural hair a trim in the process, too!

Now that you’re more familiar with how long you can keep box braids in, along with some maintenance tips, it’s time to decide whether it’s the hairstyle for you. If you want the benefits of box braids, you should also stay in the loop on how to style box braids so you don’t miss any trends!

When you’re ready for your box braids, make sure to check out the profiles of our StyleSeat professionals. Whatever sort of braids you’re interested in, from jumbo to micro, they’ll have you covered with all the best creative ‘dos.