How To Maintain Your Box Braids While Keeping Your Own Hair Healthy

How To Maintain Your Box Braids While Keeping Hair Healthy

Rocking box braids this Summer or thinking about getting a set? I’ve had mine in for about 2 and a half months now and plan to keep them in for at least another seven weeks. In order to keep braids in for this long it requires some maintenance to avoid looking like a hot mess, and having your hair knot up. You have to know how to maintain your box braids while keeping your own hair healthy. Let me share with you how I’ve been maintaining my braids to keep them looking fresh while keeping my hair underneath healthy.

retouching box braids

First of all you must periodically retouch your braids around the perimeter to keep them looking fresh and to keep your edges from breaking, especially for longer , thicker braids which are usually heavier. Every 2-3 weeks should be sufficient enough and remember not to braid too tight. Since I plan to keep my braids in longer than three months I decided to retouch my entire head in sections at the two month mark, it took me about 2 weeks doing small sections every few days. The picture above shows my new growth and how the braids looked when retouched. If I allowed them to grow out for four months without retouching they would be hanging off my head which can cause breakage. When retouching, ensure that your hair is well moisturized. You can use new hair which is easier or you can just take a loose each braid to redo (as I did) which takes much longer. You may find that your hair is a little tangled with product build up and/or dirt where the braid was originally knotted. Simply detangle the knot with a fine tooth comb starting from the base and working your way up until you can comb through the section of hair freely, then rebraid.

african royale brx braid spray

Speaking of moisture, it is very important that you keep your hair well moisturized as dry hair can lead to breakage. You don’t need to add a lot of products, a simple braid spray will do. My favorite is  African Royale BRX Braid & Extensions Sheen Spray. The first two ingredients are water and glycerin so it keeps your hair really moisturized and it contains Tea Tree Oil, Ginseng, Protein and a bunch of other stuff that is good for your hair & scalp. I usually apply it once or twice a day and I’m good.

fantasia tea tree oil naturals shampoo

Keep your scalp and braids clean. Now I am almost ashamed to admit that I usually never wash my braids as I keep them in for less than two months most of the time and it doesn’t bother me. This time around, when I reached the two month mark my scalp begin to itch really bad and my braids started to feel sticky and a little heavy. I knew that if I planned to leave my braids in for much longer without tearing up my scalp that I would have to do something so I decided to wash my braids. Note that this is for synthetic hair braids… I do not suggest washing human hair braids as they will swell, tangle and look old. You can use a dry shampoo instead which can also be used for synthetic braids in lieu of washing. For washing my braids my shampoo of choice is Fantasia Tea Tree Naturals Shampoo which contains Tea Tree Oil and Aloe Vera. It really gives a good cleaning while  removing any product build up and dandruff, I usually use it to clarify my hair. It tingles a bit while washing making my scalp feel really good. I dilute it with water to make it easier to wash out. In the shower I let water run through my braids to wet them and then apply the diluted shampoo to my scalp and give a good scrub with my fingertips. Then I put my hair under the shower to allow the shampoo to cleanse my braids while rinsing out. One cleansing is usually good enough. I also really like the SheaMoisture African Black Soap Shampoo and Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo. I towel dry my hair, apply my braid spray and then put my hair in my bonnet to dry completely overnight while I sleep. Tying up your hair at night is very important to keep your braids from getting frizzy or catching lint. Since mine are so long I put them in a loose bun and put on a big satin bonnet to sleep.

sea breeze for itchy scalp

To keep your scalp fresh in between washings and to relieve an irritated and itchy scalp you can put some Sea Breeze for Sensitive Skin in a spray bottle and spray the scalp. And that’s all folks, that’s how to maintain your braids. See here for ideas on how to style your braids.

 

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Aside from my 9-5, I’m a Freelance MUA & Hair Stylist with a love of all things beauty & fashion. When I’m not hunting down the latest and greatest beauty products, beating a face or lacing a do, you can find me roaming the streets of NYC in my stilettos looking for the next best restaurant. Or in the kitchen trying to outdo myself from the last time.

109 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this Erica. As usual you always seem to know what your readers want. Oh perhaps more youtube videos with makeup tutorials 🙂

  2. The BRX is the truth! I’m in long kinky twists and I have the same regimen. I also like spray some Aphogee Green Tea on my twists about once a week for protein. Sometimes my hair is too moisturized when I take them out.

  3. I had mines in for a week,and was planning on keeping it in till end of August, my friend was like whattt,longer than that,at least Labor Day.

  4. Thnks alot this was very helpful i had my box braids 3 weeks and they are beginning to itch like crazy and your hair is gorgeous

    • Thank you so much. Uggghh I know that feeling. It’s been just about four months and the itching sometimes drives me nuts, I have to wash it more often!

  5. Question, I have box braids in now too, using the straight seabreeze on your hair will not do anything to it, and do you have a solution to getting out the build up around the braids???? (had mine in about a month but I don’t want to wash them, will be taking them out in about 2 weeks)

    • I usually remove the buildup with a fine tooth comb while retouching my braids. Even washing doesn’t remove all buildup around the knots. Hope that helps.

  6. thanks for the post, I am considering putting box braids in my hair, however I want to know do the braids look different after they are washed? Is it going to look much older much quicker because of washing it?

    • No problem. It depends on how old your braids are and your hair. If your hair is really frizzy and not combined with the braids well it will get frizzy when you wash it. Also older braids will look more puffy but if you moisturize them and tie them down they should look fine. You will have to keep up with your touch ups or they will look raggedy after a while. Hope that helps!

  7. how much growth did you retain? i’m panning on keeping braids in until May because i want to wear my hair natural for prom, and i want to retain as much length as possible.

    • My hair grew out a couple of inches and since I kept my braids clean and well moisturized I retained most if my length with minimal shedding

  8. I love your blog. I’m thinking of putting braids in my hair and I wanted to do synthetic. I remembered reading this a while ago and had to refer back to it today. But I have a question. Which type of synthetic hair did you use and how many packs? Thanks so much

  9. I have mixed race hair and I was wondering if box braids are healhty for my hair. Every time I do my hair in box braids with extentions it is completly tangled. What should I do?

  10. Your braids are amazing! I’ve tried box braids twice now with two different stylists and each time the braids have slipped out in a matter of less than 2 weeks! Both stylists commented to me that my hair is too soft (I have curly hair and a little mixed as my mother is half white). I don’t want to give up on having box braids someday. Is there a specific type of hair I should use that could help the braids stay in?

  11. Hi I currently had box braids done & I’m Mexican lol idk how my hair will react to the new hairdo since it’s my first time..how long do you recommend I keep them in or when should I wash them? Had them in for about 1 week now

    • Keep them in until they start to look too fuzzy and grown out. Depends on how often you wash your natural hair. I don’t wash my braids until about after a month.

  12. Hi, I recently got box braids about a week ago. This was my first time ever havingweave put into my head in my entire life. It wasn’t too tight, but my head it starting to itch. I read that there is a possibility I am allergic to the hair (100% kanekalon hair). My face or ears aren’t breaking out and I don’t see anything, but redness on my scalp fron the itching. I paid a lot of money for the braids and don’t want to take them out unless I necessarily must. Will my hair fall out if I don’t take them out?

    • I’m not sure if your hair will fall out but you can get severe irritation and damage to the scalp if you’re scratching. Try adding some apple cider vinegar to warm water in a large bowl or bucket and dip the braids and your head (only scalp area) for a few minutes to try to remove the chemicals. If not just pour over your head and repeat the process until the itching stops.

  13. Hi Erica! I have been wanting box braids for the longest time! And I’m in Africa right now and thinking about getting it done finally. I’m Scandinavian and I have dark blonde hair and I am so afraid to damage my hair in any way! Should I not get it done and are the chances of damage to the hair very large? Hope you can help me!!

  14. Hi. I’ve only had my box braids in for going on 3 weeks and my new growth is already taking over. I was hoping for at least 6 weeks with them. Is there something I’m doing wrong? I know new growth is a good thing but taking my braids out after two weeks was not what I was looking for:-(

    • I experienced this with my last set of braids. My hair grows fast and since the braids were a little bigger the new growth was more noticeable. You’re not doing anything wrong, you’ll just have to get your hair touched up more often.

  15. Hi! I am getting box braids soon is there a certain type of hair that you recommend? and also do you mind telling me how much it costs?

  16. Thanx Erica for the lesson, i did my box draids about 4 weeks ago and my new growth was taking over so i decidebto use moulding wax gelly to re twist as i want to stay for some weeks before remove it out. Ddid i went wrong by using moulding wax gelly?

  17. Hi Erica! I am just coming across this blog on the DAY I decided to take my braids out. I reeeeally don’t want to–I love the style and want to rock them a little longer. I’ve had them for about 2 months and see new growth all over the place. Is getting them retouched after 2 months too late? Should just go ahead and take them out? I don’t want to damage my hair (I’m trying to grow my natural hair out after having it short for 2 years)

    • Hi Laneka. No it’s not too late. Getting the perimeter retouched now should hold you over another 2-4 weeks. I wouldn’t keep them too much longer than that without retouching the entire head.

  18. Hey Erica, i absoluetly love your blog btw, is 5-6 weeks too little time to keep my box braids in?

  19. Hello, Erica. I have had my box braids for almost two weeks and I have braids trying to slipp and a lot of friz alonh with itching. Inhave expression hair in and I diluted the mango and lime tingle shampoo and washed my hair for the itching and diluted my conditioner and conditioned my hair. I put some mango and lime no more itch cool scalp for braids on the scalp and spayed my scalp with my moisturizer. Mane and tail spray. Did I do anything wrong this is the time wear box braid on my all nature hair and want to retain length.

    • I usually skip a conditioner and just use my braid spray to moisturize. It may be the conditioner causing the braids to slip depending on your hair texture. I would skip the conditioning step and just moisturize after washing.

  20. Hi there!! I got box braids one month ago, I’m white so my hair doesn’t really work as well unfortunately 🙁 but its been great so far ! I feel like when I take them out I will lose all my hair ! I’m scared lol:p how can I stop my hair from shedding a lot?

  21. How can you wash your braids without it being being a mess and frizzy? Also like you have said the itching itching mg is killing me and I’ve only had them roughly a week, can you please give me some tips since hopefully I will get the front and back redone since I’ve been scraitching so much

  22. Hi erica i am getting jumbo box braids today would i be able to leave them in for 5-6 weeks and also get them touched up around the edges or would it be time to take them out

  23. Im a senior citizen silver hair and all Iv vowed to wear braids unto death However I dont see products I can use as I dont want my hair to discolor Can u help

    • I know that relaxers can turn silver hair to gold, but I’m not really sure what ingredients in other hair products may cause discoloration. Maybe avoid products that contain color due to fragrance or dye. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  24. Hey erica. I’m planning on leaving my braids in for about two months with only touch ups to the edges and half the middle where I make a part now and then, Do you think that’s a good enough time? And also how do you end your braids, by braiding them or burning them? TIA

  25. Hi I love the way you hair came out. And I have a few questions. This is my first time getting box braids after having my hair permed. I have grown out my perm for about a month. I planned on keeping in the braids for about a month or so. I’ve asked around and I was told that my hair would break off and that’s exactly what Im trying to avoid. What should I do?

    • Hi. You can do a protein treatment followed by a deep conditioning treatment before you braid. Don’t get them too tight, don’t keep them in too long without retouching and keep them clean and moisturized.

  26. Hey Erica I love your blog and I just had a few questions cause I’m getting box braids in a few days and want to know how to wash it keep it clean and if 2 or 3 months was okay to keep in.

  27. hey my name is Makayla and I was wondering how I should wash my hair. Im Black and Puerto Rican and I want my braids to last as long as possible because the last time I had them done they lasted two weeks because my scalp was extremely itchy. I also want to have little to no frizz because my parts are on the bigger side.

  28. This will be my first time getting box braids I bought 11 packs of outre ultra soft yaki batik braid hair is that good for the box braids

  29. Hi Erica. I just got my box braids done last week. I came across your blog and I absolutely love it. I didn’t use expression hair but I don’tremember the name of the hair I have now. The lady who did my hair said my relaxed was really straight. Within 4 days, a braid had already slipped out and another one is about to come out. Also my scalp is itching really bad. I like the style because it is very pretty but I’m almost at my wits ends with the itching and I’m scared my hair will break off. What should I do?

  30. I am getting box braids this weekend I bought 11 packs of outre ultra soft yaki hair will that be enough hair

  31. I just got box braids for the first time and I am freaking out about maintenance. My hair is about 12 inches long (relaxed) with 2 inches of natural outgrowth. I am trying to go natural without a Super dramatic chop by using braids but I don’t know how to take care of them. What does it mean to retouch your braids? Also, how often should I wash/moisturize? My scalp has been pretty dry but I don’t want to risk build up. Thanks!

    • Retouching your braids simply means doing the braids over. I can’t tell you how often to wash your hair as everyone’s needs are different, but I usually wash about every other week. Moisturize as much as possible because dry hair leads to breakage.

  32. Hello!

    I am always looking for ways to extend the life of my box braids; I’ve googled about it so many times and every time, somehow, your blog pops up! I love reading this again and would love to get your feedback on this method.

    I am planning on keeping my braids in for six months because I am in a new country and going through a busy transition between two lives. So! For now I am borrowing the interlocking method: I pass my braid through my new growth once or twice. It makes a “Y” shape and tightens the roots pretty well. I do this after a month and only in the front and crown, never on my edges.
    Next month I’ll try redoing each braid with new hair just like you. I am super excited!

    What do you think? Can I do this method for six months while being extremely gentle with my edges?

    Thanks!

    Facts:
    Natural 4b hair
    Strong thick coarse strands
    Full density

    • I’m confused on your explanation of your method… It sounds like you are creating knots at the roots of your braids. Doing this will cause your hair to knot up and you will have to cut your braids out at the roots. Maybe I’m reading wrong?

  33. I have mixed curly hair…Can I get box braids or will they just fall out? And if It won’t how long would it stay in?

  34. Hi. I have straight hair that I keep bleached and colored. I have box braids for the first time for about 6 weeks now. My roots were already grown our a bit but now they are coming in and they are so grey. I’m not ready for this look and I love styling it in a way that covers the roots but it’s not always practical and I want to freshen up. Can I bleach my roots while they are in braids?

  35. I love ur blogs on youtube and ur tips are so helpful!!!what lotion or oil can I use if my roots are flaky?? Plz need 2 kno

    Also
    I’ve been scrolling down ur page.and am
    so happy that u actually reply to the comments/suggestions-every single one!!

    • Thank you. If your hair is flaky I’d suggest washing with the tea tree shampoo and applying the braid spray. You can also rub a little tea tree oil on your scalp.

  36. Hi Erica, I recently did the big chop back in August to go natural. I wore my hair short before the big chop so it wasn’t much of a scare to me nor a big chop. However, it has been 4 months of natural hair and I’m in the in between stages of hair growth (waiting for the top to grow for more length but keeping a tapered cut). So, while I wait I am considering box braids. Did you still have short hair when you did your box braids? Also, did you let the sides and back grow out long enough just to braid it? I greatly appreciate a response. Thank you in advance! Also, I watch all your youtube videos….they inspire me to try different natural hairstyles once the top grows out longer!

    • I had a pixie cut when I had these braids, so yes my hair was short. It was shorter than my tapered twa. I braid my own hair though so I was able to catch it without braiding too tight. Hope that helps!

  37. Hey when I take out the braids when retouching them do u wash them and how do u wash them and what do u do exactly explain ???

  38. Hello…I am seriously thinking about box braids so that I can exercise more. I am confused as to what a retouch actually means. It sounds like you are basically redoing your braids just in sections. Is that correct?

    • Yes, it’s redoing every single braid, in sections. If you’re keeping your braids in for less than three months, it’s only necessary to retouch around the perimeter to protect your edges and keep your hair looking fresh.

  39. Just a couple more questions please as I have decided to take the plunge and get the box braids next week… Is there a special maintainence for when you are exercising? Also the stylist who is doing my hair mentioned the rubberband method to cut down time…is this method safe and does it last as long…lastly since my own hair is already in the middle of my back do you think the length I will need will be too heavy and therefore increase the likelihood of breaking my hair off?….thank you so much for all your advice

  40. Hello Erica! I have loved the look of box braids ever since I was a little girl. I will be going to Mexico in a couple of months and thought that would be a good opportunity to give them a try. I am Caucasian and worried they will destroy my natural hair. What are your thoughts? Any steps you recommend one that this doesn’t happen?

  41. Hello Erica! I Have loved the look of box braids ever since I was a little girl. I Will be going to Mexico in a couple of months. Thought this would be a good opportunity to give them a try. I am Caucasian and worried they will destroy my natural hair. It is somewhat fine. What are your thoughts? Any steps you recommend I take? Or should I just avoid this look altogether?

  42. Hey Erica, I’ve gotten faux locs for the first time & I wanted to know if the same techniques you’re using for the box braids will work for these as well? Specially as far as the moisturizing and washing goes. I tried to do a little research online & washing faux locs seemed a little scary because I read that if you don’t let them dry properly then mildew could possibly grow underneath and it’s not really specific on how to let them dry. Any advice?

    • I currently have faux locs. Had them in for 6 weeks so far and haven’t washed them because they are fragile in my opinion. I would use an herbal scalp cleanser or dry shampoo. I moisturize them on the regular the same as I do with my braids though.

  43. Thanks for the information!! I just got box braids 2 days ago and its going good. I haven’t had my hair braided since I was 7 years old. So very helpful information for me.

  44. Hello Erica,
    My daughter just got a perm today and want to get rubber band medium box braids.Should I say now the person that will do it doesn’t braid very tight because my daughter scalp gets sore with small bumps if done too tight.

    • You should wait at least a few weeks after a relaxer (until the new growth breaks through) to get braids, to avoid hair breakage and damage.

  45. HELLO ERICA, I HAD MY BOX BRAIDS INSTALLED LAST WEEK , MY EDGES ARE ALREADY BEGINNING TO LIFT ,HOW SOON SHOULD I GET A TOUCH UP ON MY EDGES?

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