Braids are a great go-to for so many of us who want a long-lasting look that’s easily customizable. They’re a staple protective style that’s seen many iterations and trends over the years.

If you’ve worn any braided style, then you know all too well the pain that sometimes comes during installation and the days after. We’ve created so many methods for loosening tight braids at home as a result. Luckily, times have changed and we’ve developed new techniques to lessen that pain and the need for DIY fixes.

Knotless braids are a new method that will help you say “bye bye” to painful braid installation. This technique lessens tension on the scalp and lets your braids naturally lay flat on your head. We’ll go over the other benefits, costs, and some styling inspiration for knotless braids in this guide.

Knotless braids vs. box braids: What’s the difference?

Knotless braids are similar to box braids, but the main differences are the installation process and how it affects your hair. StyleSeat Pro Erinn Courtney says she wishes more people knew that knotless braids are healthier to wear as opposed to braids with knots. 

“Knotted braids wrap around an entire section of hair and can pull on the roots with the weight of the braid when growing out,” she said. “Knotless braids are braided into the hair so that the weight is distributed evenly and the root can maintain the weight while growing.”

Erinn Courtney

The technique used by knotless braids creates much less tension on your hair and scalp than box braids. The lessened tension also allows you to style your hair right after it’s installed, rather than waiting a few days for your braids to naturally loosen up.

This technique also lets your hair lay flat against your head for a more natural look. Thanks to this technique, braiding hair looks like it’s growing from your own head rather than from a knot at the base of your scalp. 

If you’ve experienced scalp irritation in the past from synthetic braiding hair, knotless braids may also be a better option than box braids. This technique naturally reduces your scalp’s contact with braiding hair since it’s fed into the braid.

benefits of knotless braids

What do knotless braids cost?

Knotless braid installation can cost around $250 on average, not including the cost of hair. However, this service can range from $150 up to $600 depending on factors like location, salon, your braider’s expertise, and the style and intricacy needed for your desired look.

These are all common factors for most salon services. However, knotless braids have a few unique factors that also contribute to the price. For example, you’re also paying for your braider’s availability, since knotless braids are in high demand but aren’t offered at salons as commonly as box braids. Since knotless braids take longer to install than box braids, you’re also paying for your braider’s time. 

What braid size should I get?

The braid size you get is up to you, what look you want, and how long you want your look to last. The smaller the braids, the longer they last.

Small braids are great for creating intricate styles. They also give you easy access to cleanse and moisturize your scalp. On the other hand, small braids create more tension with your scalp and take up to 12 hours to install and up to 12 hours to take down.

Large and jumbo braids are for you if you don’t plan to keep them in longer than a month or so. Although you can’t create complex styles with this size, you can still add some flair with cuffs and beads. You can also ask your braider to try different parting patterns or to incorporate some color.

How long do knotless braids last?

Knotless braids last from six to eight weeks. You can maintain your braids with at-home maintenance and touch-up appointments. We’ll go over some care tips in the next section.

Your braids’ size and the type of hair you use also affects how long your braids will last. Human hair generally lasts longer than synthetic hair, but there are lots of pros and cons to consider between human and synthetic hair.

Although knotless braids feel more comfortable than other braids, you’ll need to take them out after a month or so to give your hair and scalp a break. It’s also important to cleanse and deep condition your hair once your braids are taken down.

How can I care for knotless braids?

You can care for knotless braids by keeping your hair clean and moisturized, allowing it to properly dry after using products, and protecting your hair while you sleep. Knotless braids need a little more care than traditional braids since it exposes more of your natural hair. These tips below are important both for maintaining your braids and for keeping your natural hair and scalp healthy.

  • Cleanse your hair and scalp to prevent product buildup, itchiness, and irritation.
  • Moisturize your braids and natural hair to keep your hair nourished, healthy, and shiny.
  • Allow your hair to dry after using products or washing to prevent mildew growth. 
  • Tie your hair at night to prevent tangling, knots, and breakage.
  • Sleep on a satin pillowcase to lessen friction between your hair and the pillow. Silk is also great for retaining your hair’s moisture along with preventing tangling and breakage. 
  • Wear a satin scarf at night to give your hair extra protection by reducing friction between your hair and the pillowcase. Satin scarves have similar benefits to satin pillowcases.
  • Book touch-up appointments so a Pro can professionally clean your scalp and touch up your edges.
pro tip let a professional clean your scalp and touch up your edges

Can I do knotless braids at home?

You can do knotless braids at home if you’re confident that you’ve mastered the technique. We recommend seeing a Pro braider before your first attempt. It’s your opportunity to learn from them and to get tips on the best hair to use. However, going to a Pro can save you time, money, and potential damage to your hair.

Can knotless braids damage my hair?

Knotless braids can damage your hair if they’re not properly installed or given proper care. Compared to box braids, damage and breakage is less likely since the installation method uses less tension.

What are some ways I can style knotless braids?

You can style your knotless braids in a big bun, half up and half down, and many other ways you’d normally style box braids. We rounded up some styling inspiration for you below.

Bun

knotless braids in a bun

Since there’s a lot less tension with these kinds of braids, you’ll have an easy time wrapping your knotless braids into a big bun. It’s a great go-to style for both formal events and for running errands.

Jumbo

jumbo knotless braids

Jumbo knotless braids take less time to install and put less strain on your hair. Plus, the size makes any style look extra chic. Since you gather a lot more hair for the parts and braids, you’ll need to spend some extra time during the installation to make sure everything looks tidy. 

High ponytail

knotless braids in a high ponytail

Proud of your length, but want to keep your hair out of your face? Tie your hair up into a high ponytail for a functional and fashionable style. A high pony is also a great option if you want to show off any intricate designs. 

Color

Mix up your look with some color. You can mix in your natural hair color by getting ombré braids. If you want something a little more unique, go with bold colors like red or purple.

Double bun

double bun with knotless braids

Double buns are a popular style that both kids and adults are wearing. Depending on your length, you can wear double buns half up, half down or throw all of your hair into both buns.

Knotless braids are a great option if you want a protective style that puts less tension on your hair and scalp. They don’t last as long as box braids, but it’s worth it in exchange for a relatively painless installation and a safer style. Find a Pro braider near you who specializes in knotless braids to learn more about this technique.