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Can You Swim With Box Braids? | Things to Know

If you have braids or are planning to install box braids soon, you might’ve wondered, “Can you swim with box braids?” The short answer is yes. Continue reading for more details about whether your box braids are safe in the water and other related questions.

When Can You Swim With Box Braids?

You can usually swim with box braids without worrying about damaging them or making them frizzle, as long as you have them installed correctly, tightly, and with a good quality pack of braiding hair extensions.

In this article, we’ll go into more detail regarding:

  • What box braids are
  • What factors influence how “waterproof” box braids are
  • What to do if your box braids get frizzy from water
  • Related questions

By the end, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect if you want to take a swim with your box braids, as well as some tips on protecting them.

What Are Box Braids?

Woman with box braids pictured sitting no a grey tiled floor


Box braids are a type of protective style typically worn by African American women that can help keep your natural hair healthy and free from damage as you grow it out.

Box braids get styled by dividing the hair into small sections or “boxes” and then braiding each section with extensions. The result is a series of long, neat, parallel braids.

You can install box braids with any type or color of hair extensions, from synthetic to human hair, and they can be as thick or thin as you’d like. You can also get them installed in various styles — from loose and flowy to tight and neat.

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WHow “Waterproof” Are Box Braids?

Various factors might influence how easy swimming with your box braids will be.

Quality of the Extensions

The main factor determining how well box braids hold up in the water is the hair extensions’ quality. Cheap synthetic hair extensions are usually not a good choice for box braids because they can absorb water, swell up, and become frizzy.

For this reason, it’s important to use good-quality hair extensions made of materials resistant to water, such as human hair or Kanekalon.

Tightness of Installation

Another factor that can affect how well box braids hold up in the water is the tightness of the braids. If the braids are too loose, they can become undone by the water.

For this reason, it’s vital to ensure that the braids get installed tightly and securely. If you’re unsure whether your box braids will stand up to water, it’s always a good idea to consult a professional stylist.

Type of Water

The type of water you’re swimming in can also affect your box braids. For example, highly chlorinated water can dry out and damage your hair, which can lead to frizziness and tangles. Salt water, on the other hand, can also have a drying effect on your hair, which can also lead to frizziness.

It’s best to avoid swimming in chlorinated or salt water for too long to avoid damaging your box braids. And, of course, if the body of water is filthy, you should avoid that as well — or at least make time for an intensive wash the next day.

What to Do If Your Box Braids Get Frizzy From Water

For a piece on can you swim with box braids, a woman squirting leave-in conditioner into her hand

Bernado Emmanuelle/Shutterstock

If your box braids get frizzy from swimming or being in the water, there are a couple of ways you can try to fix them.

Leave-in Conditioning

First, you can try using a leave-in conditioner or light oil to help moisturize your hair and tame the frizz. Apply the product to your damp braids, focusing on the ends, and then style as usual.

You can also apply leave-in conditioner or oil before swimming, as this can help create a barrier that will protect your hair from the water.

Deep Conditioning

Another option is to deep condition your hair after it’s been in the water. Doing this will help rehydrate and revitalize your hair and can help minimize frizz.

To deep condition your box braids, start washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove any build-up. Then, apply a deep conditioner to your braids and leave it in for 30 minutes to an hour. Finally, rinse your box braids with cool water and style as usual.


Finally, you can also try using a light hairspray to help keep your box braids in place and minimize frizz. Just use a light touch of hairspray, as too much hairspray can make your hair look and feel crunchy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman with box braids pictured in front of a brick wall

Tatiane Silva/Shutterstock

If you have more questions about swimming with box braids, check out our answers to commonly asked questions below.

How do I swim without getting my braids wet?

Usually, it’s okay to get your box braids wet while swimming. However, if you plan to be in highly chlorinated water, salt water, or dirt-heavy water for a significant amount of time, you may choose to cover your hair and protect them from getting too wet.

In this case, you can use a swimming cap or a shower cap to keep your hair dry. You can also try wearing a baseball hat or scarf to keep your hair covered if you’ll mainly be wading through the water.

Can you swim in a pool with box braids?

Yes. If you correctly installed your box braids, there should be little to no concern about swimming in a pool. However, if the pool is highly chlorinated, you may want to avoid swimming in it for too long or washing your braids thoroughly after your swim.

Can you get your box braids wet?

Part of the appeal of box braids and other protective styles is that there is less concern about getting caught in the rain or getting them wet for different reasons. So yes, you can get your box braids wet! Just make sure you clean them if they interact with dirty, chlorinated, or salt water.

How do you maintain braids while swimming?

The best way to maintain your box braids while swimming is to ensure you have had them correctly done and avoid getting them wet for too long. It’s also crucial to have high hair extensions of a decent quality to prevent too much frizziness after you get them wet.

What braids are best for swimming?

Box braids are an excellent option for swimming, but other braiding styles may work better or worse, depending on your hair type and preferences. Double french braids are another popular protective hairstyle for swimming that tends to hold up well.

So, Can You Swim With Box Braids?

Box braids are an excellent option for anyone who wants to have long, beautiful hair. And although they provide more freedom to do what you wish, then perhaps leaving your natural hair out would, as they protect your natural hair, they can still be a little tricky to care for, especially if you want to swim with them.

You can do a few things to ensure your box braids hold up well in water, including using good quality hair extensions and having someone install the braids tightly. You should also avoid swimming in highly-chlorinated water or salt water for too long or dirty water at all.