30 Box Braid Styles and Ideas to Try Immediately
Consider your next protective style *handled*.
Considering box braids are one of the most classic—and, IMHO, one of the prettiest—braided hairstyles out there, it’s kinda impossible to comb through your IG feed these days without seeing at least a couple inspiration-worthy box braid styles. And if you’ve thought about getting box braids a million times but you’ve never actually taken the leap, consider this your sign: We found 30 box braid ideas that are so pretty, you’ll be on the phone with your braider by the end of this sentence.
Whether you’re looking for micro braids à la Laura Harrier, or an accessorized style that's Tessa Thompson-approved, you’re bound to find something you love when you scroll through these ideas. But first, let's have a little refresher, starting with...
Box braids are plaits or three-strand braids that are divided into square-shaped sections, says Stacey Ciceron, hairstylist and Oribe consulting stylist. “Box braids can be done with natural hair or with extension for extra length, thickness, and fullness,” she says. “No matter how big or small your box braids are, they’ll always have four corners,” adds celebrity stylist Larry Sims, who regularly works with Zendaya, Gabrielle Union, and Danai Gurira (casual).
You’ve probably heard of knotless box braids too, which have a more seamless look compared to classic box braids. “Knotless box braids give a more natural finish and look like the person’s real hair, while regular box braids present a small visible knot at the beginning of the braid where you can clearly see the added extensions,” says Ciceron. Knotless box braids also tend to put less pressure on the scalp, which is a big win for the tender-headed.
Whether you choose knotless or classic box braids is totally about your personal style, btw—there’s no right or wrong approach. “Regular box braids are old-school—the knots at the base remind me of the ’90s and African culture, which is really great,” says Sims.
Officially down to try out box braids yourself? Screenshot these cute-AF styles and hit up your braider ASAP.
1. These pearl-adorned box braids
One of the coolest things about box braids? They look stunning with any and all accessories, as evidenced by this cute pearl-adorned style. Feel free to play around with pearls, cuffs, beads, the works—you can make your braids totally your own.
2. These box braids with curly ends
If you're looking for an easy way to switch up your box braids, try leaving out your ends for a wavy or curly finish. Leave out only a few inches for a more subtle vibe, or go for this gorgeous look with longer waves.
3. These side-parted box braids
This side-parted style is a great excuse to play around with the parts on your box braids. Pro tip: Make sure your hair is totally moisturized before you show up to your braiding appointment (a deep-conditioning treatment the night before is always a great idea).
4. This box braids and scarf style
I mean, is there anything cuter than this box braids and silk scarf combo? Try a color-coordinated look for the ultimate vibe (bonus points for matching your makeup too).
5. This box braids ponytail
Looking for an easy (but pretty!) way to wear your box braids up this summer? Consider this high ponytail, which requires wrapping a few braids around the base of your pony. P.S. Ciceron says you'll want to take out your box braids after six to eight weeks max—anything longer and you'll risk damage.
6. These box braids with cuffs
Turns out it's pretty easy to level up your ponytail. Slide on a few cuffs or beads throughout your box braids and gather your hair at the top of your head with a white scrunchie.
7. These multi-colored box braids
There's no reason why you shouldn't play around with color, especially when your box braids can look this cute. Have your stylist feed in colored braiding hair to take your look to new heights.
8. These short box braids
You can never go wrong with shorter box braids—especially if you're worried about weighing down your scalp or hair with a super-long style. This shoulder-grazing bob is a great way to go (and it looks excellent with a side part).
9. These micro box braids
Leave it to Laura Harrier to pull off these gorgeous micro box braids. A quick heads up that you'll want to take extra care of your scalp when wearing tighter braids, so make sure you have a hydrating oil on hand before you give this style a try.
10. These jumbo box braids
Not into the micro look? These jumbo braids are just as fun—and they take, like, a fraction of the time to install. Play around with different colored braiding hair to really customize your style.
11. This box braids bun
Not only is this braided bun an Instagram-worthy style, but it's also a genius way to keep your hair off your neck during the spring or summer. If you're going for a sleeker look, smooth a lightweight edge control along your hairline.
12. This box braids ponytail
Rock this high ponytail during the day and then take your box braids down before you go to bed. A quick spritz of an anti-itch oil or a soothing spray will help keep your scalp soft, hydrated, and tension-free.
13. These center-parted box braids
Pull an Alicia Keys and part your box braids right down the center for an ultra-pretty look. Leave your ends wavy to really bring the look home.
14. This box braids updo
If you're wearing longer box braids, you'll absolutely love this updo style. Wrap your braids at the top of your head—you can keep it loose or create a bit of tension—to switch things up.
15. These double-bun box braids
Sometimes two buns are better than one. Wrap your box braids into double buns on either side of your part and leave out a couple face-framing pieces.
16. These box braids with blonde ends
Sorry, but how pretty are these box braids with blonde, curly ends? If you've been looking for a reason to try a lighter hair color, consider this style your sign.
17. These box braids with beads
Sliding a handful of beads on the ends of your box braids is a great way to make your style stand out among the rest. Feel free to use a combination of colors and textures to make the look your own.
18. These long box braids
Box braids are always a great option when you're going for a super-long look. Just make sure you don't keep 'em in longer than six or eight weeks, alright? Too much tension on your scalp can leave you with damage.
19. These '90s box braids
TBH, '90s hairstyles are never not relevant. Recreate this cute and simple look by tightly wrapping your braids into two mini buns and leaving out a single box braid on either side of your part to frame your face.
20. These purple box braids
Sometimes all you need is a couple pieces of color to really make your box braids stand out. This combination of black and purple braiding hair is always a winning look. Don't forget to lay your edges with a non-flaky formula when recreating this look.
21. These half-up box braids
When in doubt, half-up hairstyles are a great staple for styling your box braids. These face-framing pieces and curly ends really add to the final look.
22. This box braids top knot
Don't forget about half-up buns, either. Gather a section of your box braids at the top of your head, wrap them into a bun, and leave the rest of your braids long and loose for a cute year-round look.
23. These sleek box braids
You can't go wrong with a sleek ponytail for your box braids. BTW, treating your hair and scalp to a gentle co-wash or apple cider vinegar rinse every couple weeks is a great way to keep your protective style looking (and feeling) fresh.
24. These 'Poetic Justice' box braids
The key to nailing Janet Jackson's box braids from Poetic Justice? Gather your braids at the top of your head and tie them off with a big white scrunchie. Long live the '90s.
25. These wavy box braids
Pull a Winnie Harlow and go for these long box braids with wavy ends. Finish off the look with a half-up bun and you'll be all set.
26. These face-framing box braids
Take a unique approach to the face-framing look by wrapping your hair up and to the side. Leave a few long pieces swept over your face and you'll have Jourdan Dunn's box braid look in no time.
27. This high ponytail for box braids
A classic high ponytail never goes out of style—especially when you're rocking long box braids. And if you aren't using an edge tool already, prepare to have your styling routine completely upgraded.
28. This srunchie hairstyle for box braids
Srunchies are basically the perfect hair accessory for box braids—they're gentle enough to keep your hair up without causing too much tension on your scalp. Exhibit A: This half-up style is so cute and easy.
29. This mini bun for box braids
Just because you're rocking shorter box braids doesn't mean you can't wear a high bun. This style with face-framing pieces and laid edges is an excellent option to have on deck.
30. These dual-toned box braids
Can't decide on one color for your box braids? Follow the likes of this style and go for a dual-toned look. I mean, this combination of black and blonde hair is so cute.
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Article written by Nicole Saunders & Sami Roberts for Cosmopolitan