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Box Braid Inspiration | 30 Unique Ideas & Style Guide

Box braids are one of the most popular types of braids for natural hair, and they’re also one of the most versatile. See different examples of box braids and ways to wear this go-to protective hairstyle in our photo guide!


What Are Box Braids?

Style Guide Box Braids featuring a cutout of a black woman with such a style floating on a blue graphic background

Box braids are one of the oldest and most time-honored hairstyles in the world. Records show them originating in South Africa around 3500 B.C.

These free-hanging braids started out as an attractive way to indicate wealth and social standing, as well as make the hair more manageable. Today, these braids are known as a widely popular protective hairstyle with tons of benefits for the wearer. 

Modern box-type braids may weave, knot, crochet, or otherwise attach synthetic hair to the natural hair. This serves to add bulk to the braids, extend the length, work in fun colors, or add textured hair.

Sometimes box braids are done on natural hair without the use of synthetic hair. In any case, all box braids will have a couple of characteristics that set them apart from other types of braids

  • These braids feature small, even sections of hair at the scalp (usually square, or box-like, in shape) that serve as the base of the braids. 
  • They also feature multiple individual braids that are free-hanging, not attached to the head.

Outside of those “rules,” not much else is written in stone when it comes to this type of braid. Box braids can be short or long, jumbo or micro, natural or synthetic. They can be braided down the entire length of the section or leave the ends free and loose.

They can all be uniform in size or feature braids of varying sizes. That’s the beauty of the box braid the final look is 100% up to you and your preferences!

Read Next: Natural Hair Styles

30 Looks You Can Create With Box Braids

There’s no limit to the styles you can shake up when you add box braids to the mix. These ultra-versatile braids can be the main focus or help add subtle texture in the background of your style. Check out the different looks you can create with this type of braid! 

1. Thick Box Braids With Middle Part

Woman with box braids in business casual attire standing by a street crosswalk

Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

Super-thick braids done symmetrically with a middle part to separate the sides creates a polished and professional look. Staggering the braids in the front opens the face and keeps the braids from hanging straight down. 

2. Flowing Long Braids

Woman with flowing long box braids looks over her right shoulder

Beauty Stock/Shutterstock

If you don’t want to commit to a particular part (middle, side, off-center, etc.), these flowing braids are a great choice. Just flip your hair to adjust the “part” according to your mood! 

3. Mini Braids With Middle Part

Mini Box Braids With Middle Part

pio3/Shutterstock

Smaller braids are a good match with a long middle-parted style like this because they mimic the look of free-flowing hair. Wear them down, half-up, or in an updo to get different looks from this style.  

4. Chunky Accessorized Box Braids

Woman with accessorized box braids stands in a white collared shirt outside

Nana_studio/Shutterstock

A middle part and eye-catching accessories in the hair are pretty ways to dress up your braids or switch up your style. Chunky braids are best for the accessorized look. 

5. Box Braids With Low Bun

Box Braids With Low Bun

Shutterstock Studios/Shutterstock

No matter your age, hanging braids give you so much styling versatility. Here, the woman dons a low, polished bun with her small, box-type braids to create a different look. 

6. Ultra-Long Hanging Braids

Ultra-Long Hanging Box Braids on a pretty woman in an orange sweater and black glasses

NeonShot/Shutterstock

One way to ensure your braids are in the spotlight? Go for extreme lengths! This style will be heavier than others, so that’s something to keep in mind before you decide on an ultra-long braided style like this. 

7. Half-Up Styled Box Braids

Half-Up Styled Box Braids

karelnoppe/Shutterstock

Box-style braids are just the right basis for a semi-formal half-updo look. Gather the top half of your braids in a high bun or ponytail on top of your head to instantly look put-together.  

8. Pink and Blue Synthetic Box Braids

Pink and Blue Synthetic Box Braids

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Vibrant colors breathe new life into a traditional box braided style. This model sports pink synthetic hair fed into her braids on one side with blue on the other. 

9. Gold Hardware and Red Tips

Gold Hardware and Red Tipped Box Braids

Yaw Niel/Shutterstock

Dress box braids up with fun touches like gold wire at the roots and bright red color peeking through at the ends. 

10. Grande Pony

Gold Hardware and Red Tipped Box Braids

Beauty Stock/Shutterstock

Ariana Grande’s signature high, sleek pony gets a fresh makeover when you add braids to the mix! Smaller braids keep the ponytail “flowing,” so if you like this look, don’t get chunky braids. 

11. Knotted Box Braids

Knotted Box Braids on a woman in business professional attire

Nana_studio/Shutterstock

Synthetic hair is knotted to natural hair to create the illusion of long braids. She wears them arranged to the side here, but you can also create a middle part or part it to the other side. 

12. Staggered Micro Box Braids

Staggered Micro Box Braids

Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

Staggering the square-ish roots of your braids will give the finished braids a more casual vibe that isn’t so geometric. These tiny braids barely look textured from a distance, but up close they’re like little works of art. 

13. Sleek Braided Bun

Sleek Braided Bun with box braids on a woman crossing her arms wearing a red sweater

Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

Something about the micro-texture of tons of tiny braids makes any hairstyle look more impressive. This basic top knot looks chic and sleek thanks to small box braids. 

14. Free-Hanging Braids With Side Part

Free-Hanging Braids With Side Part

Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

Keeping the braids on the smaller side cuts down on the volume, but you can boost the volume when you flip a few sections over to the one side. 

15. Two-Toned Jumbo Crochet Box Braids

Two-Toned Jumbo Crochet Box Braids

Daniel M Ernst/Shutterstock

Synthetic crochet braids are attached to the natural hair with a small crochet hook to minimize hair damage. In this cute jumbo style with a lighter color than the natural roots, the look is eye-catching! 

16. Kid-Friendly Box Braids

Kid-Friendly Box Braids on a girl with beads in her hair standing in front of a white fence

pixelheadphoto digitalskillet/Shutterstock

Kids need cute hairstyles, too! These braids are thick, requiring fewer sections and less tugging for little ones. Add some beads to personalize the look for your child! 

17. Half-Updo Braids

Half-Updo Box Braids on a woman in a yellow shirt standing outside a college campus holding a phone

Daniel M Ernst/Shutterstock

Leave the bottom half down and pull braids from each side of the top around to the back. Secure with a clip or ponytail holder for a look that is a little more formal than wearing it down.

Read Next: Easy Updos 

18. Jumbo Knotted Twists

Jumbo Knotted Twists for a piece on box braids

Daniel M Ernst/Shutterstock

While these jumbo Senegalese twists aren’t technically braids, they’re done in the same way with small, squared-off sections at the roots. Leave twists down in the front and pull up sections of the back and sides to create a cute half-up top knot. 

19. Three-Strand Box Braids and Red Tips

Three-Strand Box Braids and Red Tips

gorgeoussab/Shutterstock

We love the way a basic 3-strand braid contrasts with the micro box braids in this style. The bright red tips are accented with the burgundy hues in the braids. 

20. Accessorized Pony With Face-Framing Box Braids

Accessorized Pony With Face-Framing Box Braids

Daniel M Ernst/Shutterstock

If your braids are small enough in diameter, you can always pull a few down when you pull your hair up into a ponytail. It creates the look of face-framing pieces and looks trendy with the thread and metallic accessories in the braids! 

21. Colorful Synthetic Flat Braids

Colorful Synthetic Flat Box Braids

gorgeoussab/Shutterstock

This is statement-making hair and it’s for adventurous women who love to make an entrance. Rock thin, flat braids all over and pull the top half back for a polished touch. 

22. Thick Crochet Braids With Highlights

Thick Crochet Braids With Highlights

yurakrasil/Shutterstock

Caramel highlights give a speckled, multi-toned look to basic braids. These braids are thick but not jumbo it’s a cute in-between size! 

23. Braids With Deep Side Part

Box Braids With Deep Side Part shown in a black and white photo

mimagephotography/Shutterstock

Toss your braids all the way over to one side to achieve a little more volume on top and emphasize your cheekbones. Add in an accessory or two to a braid in front! 

24. Faux Box Braids

Faux Box Braids on a woman in a pink blazer and a black bra

L Julia/Shutterstock

Fake the look of box braids by taking small sections in the front and braiding them loosely. Keeping it to 1-2 sections up front looks best! 

25. Curly Micro Braids

Curly Micro Box Braids on a woman in a black tank

Wiliam Moss/Shutterstock

Curly synthetic hair is knotted into tiny sections all over the head and braided to create this unique, full look. Leaving the ends loose gives the braids a laid-back vibe.  

26. Pushed-Back Braids With Silver Highlights

Pushed-Back Braids With Silver Highlights on a black woman in front of a slate wall

Tatiane Silva/Shutterstock

Cool-toned colors have been trending for a while now, and you can get in on it by adding luminescent silver highlights to your braids! Push the face-framing braids back to open up your face. 

27. 90s Top Knot With Face-Framing Braids

Black woman with 90s Top Knot With Face-Framing Box Braids

Light and Vision/Shutterstock

Bring a touch of the 90s back with a top knot at the crown and 2 skinny, face-framing braids pulled down in the front. It’s an easy way to style your braids! 

28. Skinny Braids With Curly Ends

Black woman wearing Skinny Box Braids With Curly Ends

Unique Dandridge/Shutterstock

Leave the ends loose and curly to draw the eye down the length of your hair. It’ll make it seem longer! This look is perfect when it’s paired with thin braids. 

29. Chin-Length Bob Box Braids

Chin-Length Bob Box Braids on a woman in an orange sweater crossing her arms

Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

This is such a unique and cute take on the classic bob! Stand out in a sea of long braids and boring bobs with chin-length braids in a range of light colors.  

30. Braided Shag

Braided shag box braids on a woman looking over her left shoulder in a dark room

Luba V Nel/Shutterstock

The shag haircut has bangs, short layers around the face, and jagged ends that aren’t too precise. Add small free-hanging braids to the mix and this is the shag 2.0! 

Things to Consider

Before you call your go-to braider, there are a few things you need to consider. Whether you’ve rocked these braids for years or are considering getting them for the first time, you can make sure you’re doing the right thing for your hair by keeping a few things in mind. 

  • They can be painfully heavy. If you have long hair or plan on getting long extensions for your braids, know that they will be heavy. Depending on the length and material, they could be painfully heavy and cause head, neck, and shoulder pain. Consider the weight of the length and synthetic material you choose!  
  • Traction alopecia is a concern. Traction alopecia is baldness that results from constant tugging or pulling on hair. Tight braids are one of the main culprits of this type of balding, so make sure you tell your braider to leave your edges and baby hairs out of the braids. This will keep the braid’s weight from pulling on the weakest, shortest hairs. 
  • Check with your workplace first. While it’s an accepted and widely-worn hairstyle, free-hanging braids may or may not be considered an unprofessional hairstyle at your workplace. Check the policies at your workplace to be sure before you invest the time and money into this style. 
  • They can last 4-6 weeks. You can keep braids in for 4-6 weeks with no problem as long as they’re braided tightly enough. If you want a longer-lasting protective style, dreadlocks are your best option. 

Box braids are one of the most popular protective hairstyles for a reason. These free-hanging braids are incredibly versatile and can be the starting point for so many different styles. 

We hope our photo guide has given you a good look at the number of ways you can rock these braids with completely different looks!

Choose a skilled braider you trust, show them photos of the braids you like best, and explain any preferences you have about your hair’s part, braid direction, edges, etc. before they begin. When you’re done, you’ll have a gorgeous style that can take you from a backyard party to a boardroom meeting!

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