Knotless box braids are a gorgeous, protective style preferred by many people with natural hair. Unlike traditional box braids, knotless braids are smaller, lighter, and much easier to style. While thick, traditional box braids resist being stuffed into buns and ponytails, knotless braids make it easy to change up your look daily.

So, how do we achieve these stunning braided looks? All you’ll need is some braiding hair, a little creativity, and the right stylist, which you can find using our salon booking app. In this short guide, we’ll break down the basics of the box versus knotless braids and highlight five of our favorite knotless braid styles for 2022. 

How Do Knotless Braids and Traditional Box Braids Differ?

Before we can dive into our style inspiration, let’s first get a brief crash course on knotless braids.

Knotless braids and traditional box braids may look similar when compared to other popular braids for Black women, but the technique, weight, and styles associated with each method are quite different.

Traditional Box Braids

When it comes to the traditional box braid, there are many different ways you can start the process.

  • Some stylists may begin with a simple two-strand, three-strand method, or wrap method — which involves adding braiding hair to the plait from the very beginning. 
  • Others may use the rubber band method, where pieces of hair are sectioned off with a small elastic before braiding hair is incorporated. 

Either way, traditional box braids are almost always differentiated by their tighter, larger roots. This hairstyle also uses quite a bit of braiding hair, which is why traditional box braids tend to be so thick.

While this is an excellent method for those who want additional length and volume, you’ll need to be careful when styling traditional box braids. Any hair stylist will recommend up to a week of downtime before gathering the braids into a ponytail or a bun. This waiting period is meant to protect your scalp and roots. Whether you are searching for the best box braids DC, Atlanta, or even San Diego salons have to offer, it’s important to find a professional stylist that can help you achieve the look you want, while also taking scalp and root health into account. 

Knotless Box Braids

With the knotless box braid, the process requires a lot less hair and a bit more time. 

  • First, you’ll start with a section of natural hair split into three pieces.
  • From there, you’ll begin the process of creating a basic, three-strand braid.
  • Shortly after that, you can start to add tiny strands of braiding hair one section at a time.

This method produces slimmer, lighter braids that can be pulled into various styles more easily.

The bottom line when choosing between knotless braids vs box braids, you may ask? Both traditional and knotless box braids provide a beautiful result, but the type of braids you choose will depend on your ultimate hair goals. If you want maximum length and volume, traditional box braids may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you want a slimmer style that’s more workable, knotless braids are perfect for experimenting with different looks.

How to Style Your Knotless Braids

Okay, so we’ve covered the difference between traditional and knotless box braids, and now you’re ready to commit to the knotless lifestyle. So, how do you style your new tresses? With such a manageable style, you’ve got quite a few options.

Let’s take a look at some of the hottest styles for knotless braids in 2022.

1. Pigtails

In 2022, it seems like every celebrity is rocking pigtails. From Megan Thee Stallion to FKA Twigs, the possibilities for pigtails are endless, especially with knotless box braids. 

In fact, you’ve even got options within the pigtail category. Here are just a few ways to pull your knotless braids into an adorable pigtail style:

  • High pigtails – To create a classic pigtail look, simply part your hair down the middle into two large sections. Create a high ponytail on each side and leave two braids in front to frame your face.
  • High pigtails wrap – For a more unique and supportive style, opt for two wrapped pigtails. Simply part your hair in two sections and secure your pigtails with hair ties. Grab two medium-sized sections near the top of your head inside of the pigtails. Wrap these sections around the base of your pigtails and tuck the ends underneath to secure the style. 
  • Half-up half-down pigtails – If you’re looking for a more subtle style, try adding smaller pigtails to spice up your regular hair-down look. Simply section off two smaller pieces towards the front of your hairline. Secure these little pigtails with hair ties and wrap a strand or two around the base for extra hold. This style is a great way to add volume to the front of your hair without going for an over-the-top pigtail look. 

2. Space Buns

For a truly futuristic look, turn your pigtails into two trendy space buns. Transforming your box braids into space buns can be done in three easy steps:

  • Part your hair – Either part your hair into two large sections or four smaller sections if you want to leave some of your braids out of the buns. 
  • Secure your pigtails – Take your sections and secure them with a hair tie to create two high pigtails on top of your head (the higher these pigtails are, the more secure your buns will be). 
  • Start wrapping – From there, begin wrapping your sections of hair around the base of the pigtails. Try to keep this wrap fairly tight so your buns don’t come loose throughout the day. Secure this style by tucking the ends of your braids into the buns, and pull two braids in front to frame your face. If you’re struggling to create a tight bun, try twisting the base of your pigtails before you begin wrapping them.

3. Top Knot 

Who doesn’t love a good half-up, half-down moment? Among the most popular braid styles, get the best of both worlds with a trendy top knot style that’s guaranteed to turn some heads. Here’s how to get the look:

  • Section off your knot – First, you’ll want to determine how big you want your top knot to be. For a small bun, you only need a handful of strands, while larger buns may require most of your braids.
  • Put it in a ponytail – Next, you’ll want to secure your sectioned-off hair with a hair tie. For this look, the higher the ponytail, the better. 
  • Wrap your bun – Finally, you’ll want to twist your ponytail at the base to create a firm grip. Begin to tightly wind your ponytail around its base until you’ve created a smooth, round bun on the top of your head. Secure the ends under the bun, or use another hair tie for extra support. 

4. Curly Ends

Change up the look of traditional knotless braids by adding curly ends. Compared to many Black braided hairstyles, this trendy look offers a bohemian vibe and presents the perfect opportunity to add some color. Here’s how to achieve this look.

  • Start with your stylist – Knotless braids with curly ends should be achieved at the hair salon. We do not recommend undoing your completed box braids to achieve this look. 
  • Start braiding – First, your stylist will begin the knotless braiding process normally. Once the braids are almost done, the end of each strand will be wrapped around a heatless curling tool, like flex rods. This result can also be achieved by using curled braiding hair, although this can make the braiding process a bit more complicated.  
  • Add some color – The best way to make your curly ends pop is by opting for a fun color. If your base color is dark, try switching up your curls with some blonde, blue, or pink braiding hair for an eye-catching look. 

Note: It’s essential to take extra care of your box braids if you’ve opted for curly ends. This style can lead to frayed ends more quickly than traditional knotless braids. A proper and gentle hair care routine is recommended when learning how to style box braids.

5. Keep it Short

These days, tons of celebrities are opting for a sleek, braided bob over longer braids. Just take Amandla Stenburg’s red carpet look at the 2020 Oscars, for example. While everyone appreciates the long locks box braids can give you, it never hurts to switch things up with a shorter ‘do. 

If you’re feeling restricted by the short look, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to liven up a braided bob, such as:

  • Adding pearls or hair hoops
  • Changing up your look with different colored braiding hair
  • Elevating your look with a cute hair accessory like a summery bandana or a retro headband

Prepping Your Hair for Knotless Braids

Whichever knotless braid style you decide, it’s important to prep your hair first before going to the salon. Out of all the best hair care products for natural hair, start with a protein treatment first to strengthen the locks and follow with a clarifying shampoo to clean the scalp. A natural hair treatment might also be necessary if you recently braided your hair and want to switch to another braid style.

StyleSeat: Your One-Stop-Shop for Knotless Braids

Whether you’ve started the search for qualified stylists in Atlanta, LA, or Washington D.C., knotless braid hairstyles can easily be achieved with the help of StyleSeat.

StyleSeat is the new way to schedule your hair, nail, and facial appointments. With easy online tools for searching for qualified stylists and booking appointments, StyleSeat is designed to keep you pretty, pampered, and polished.

Find your next knotless braid stylist with StyleSeat!


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The Zoe Reports. 20 Accessories for Box Braids That Aren’t Those Little Gold Tubes.