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How Long Should You Keep in Box Braids?

Box braids are a commitment. They take a lot of time to put in, require special care, and need treatment to look great. How long should you keep box braids in to maintain the health of your hair?

Read on for more information and for some tips on how to keep your braids looking wonderful.

Question: How Long Should You Keep in Box Braids?

  • 4-6 weeks is common, but box braids can last up to 8 weeks
  • Regular cleansing, thorough drying, and scalp oiling prolongs box braids
  • A number of factors determine how long you should keep box braids in

Box braids make haircare and styling sooo much easier for natural hair. This is a gorgeous style that’s easy to transform from braids hanging loosely into half-updos, mega buns, and big, chunky braids.

There’s no doubt that box braids are one protective style you’ll never regret getting. They’re just so versatile!

You might be sure about making this your next look, but wait – how long should you keep in box braids once you get this pretty protective style?

Glad you asked. This is important! Generally, most people agree that 4-6 weeks is an appropriate amount of time to keep in your box braids. You can keep your box braids in for up to 8 weeks, but only if you’re serious about keeping them clean, moisturized, and comfy on your scalp. 

It all really depends on your preferences and how well you’re maintaining and caring for your braids.

When you get box braids done, you’re probably choosing this look because you want to protect your hair and avoid over-manipulation for a while – and look good while doing it. You also want to get good value for your money.

Keep reading to find out the answer to “How long should you keep in box braids?” for your specific hair goals. 

Here’s How Long You Should Keep in Box Braids

Young African American woman walking in the city with collared shirt on wearing box braids

Why you got them in the first place will help you decide the best amount of time to keep in your box braids. You can hone in on the perfect amount of time to keep your box braids in by considering your needs and goals.

Here’s what you should keep in mind when deciding how long you should keep your box braids!

…If They’re a Protective Hairstyle

If you choose to get box braids as a protective hairstyle for natural hair, you’ll typically need to keep them in for 2-8 weeks. Taking them down too soon will negate the purpose of having a protective style in the first place! 

Since protective box braids will last a long time, you can have them for up to 8 weeks. If you plan to keep yours in from 6-8 weeks for the most hair protection, make sure to oil your scalp regularly and cleanse your braids at least once every 2-3 weeks. 

…If They’re Just an Event Style

Maybe you decide to splurge and get cute box braids done for a specific event. Usually, if you’re getting your braids done just for a one-day event, they aren’t made to stay in for a long time – about 1-4 weeks is typical. 

Depending on whether or not you had another reason for the box braids, you can take them out a few days later. There is nothing wrong with having your box braids in for a few days to a week, so don’t feel guilty.

Do at least consider keeping them around for a while longer – they can last for another few weeks if you commit to keeping them clean and moisturized! 

…If They’re a Fun Style

Putting in fun box braids for 1-3 weeks is a great way to switch up your hairstyles. You may choose an intricate box braid style or one that puts a bit more tension on your scalp.

Fun box braid styles don’t typically need to last for longer than a week, but with some genius styling and care, you can push it to 3 weeks. If they are feeling too tight on the scalp, consider removing them as soon as possible to avoid issues with traction alopecia

…If They’re Small Box Braids

Smaller box braids will look neat even as time passes. Because they use less hair for each braid, it does not come undone as fast. You can keep them in for up to 8 weeks.

Small box braids are tighter, look neat, and take longer to install or braid. But they definitely have the longest-lasting benefit and are the best choice for protective wear. 

…If They’re Medium Box Braids

Medium box braids are usually most people’s go-to option. They can stay neat with proper care but don’t require as much time to braid. However, you may not want to stay with your medium box braids for more than 5 weeks.

They will likely look unkempt after this amount of time due to the size of the individual braids, frizz, and general loosening up. Medium box braids don’t take as long as small box braids to install or braid, so you may be okay with the shorter wear-time trade off! 

…If They’re Large Box Braids

Large box braids are easy to braid and take less time. They look cute for events but don’t last as long. If you have large box braids, it’s best to undo them after 3 weeks maximum.

The bigger your box braids, the less tight and secure they’ll be. This leads to frizz, unraveling, and loose roots much sooner than small or medium box braids.

If you really love the jumbo look, just plan on wearing for up to 3 weeks and choose another protective style to try afterward! 

…If You Have an Oily Scalp

Oily scalps shouldn’t keep box braids in as long as normal and dry scalps – limit yourself to 2-3 weeks. If you have an oily scalp, you may notice flare-ups, dandruff, and itching even a few days after you get your box braids. This is made worse if your braider used a lot of grease or gel to part the hair.

For an oily scalp, prioritize washing and moisturizing to avoid oil buildup. This will compromise the look of your box braids. You will likely not be able to keep your box braids in for longer than 3 weeks without running into scalp issues.

…If You Have a Dry Scalp

Prioritizing hydration and moisture is the key to caring for a dry scalp when you have box braids. If you have a dry scalp, you will notice itchiness if you do not moisturize it regularly. You may be able to keep box braids in for up to 6 weeks with regular moisture and oiling. 

When you have box braids, it’s important to keep moisturizing your scalp. Use hydrating serums with one or two oils and many humectants. You can also buy or make a hydrating scalp spray with humectants to help. Seal with light oil and repeat until wash day.

Your box braids can last up to 6 weeks with proper care when you have a dry scalp.

…If You Have a Sensitive Scalp

If your scalp is sensitive, especially if it is sensitive and oily or sensitive and dry, your box braids may not be comfortable to wear as long – around 2-4 weeks. Sensitive scalps are prone to excessive itching, peeling, and irritation.

This can be aggravated by getting box braids. When getting box braids with a sensitive scalp, ensure you get low-tension and low-manipulation ones. No need for gels or grease to sleek your hair parts. This will irritate your scalp and lead to itching.

It is best to remove your box braids after two weeks or even less with a sensitive scalp. This is especially important if the braider puts too much tension when braiding. You can keep looser braids in for a month with proper scalp and braid care.

What Else Affects How Long You Can Keep Box Braids?

Woman grabs handful of small box braids to show their texture close up


Whether you get extensions or not, your hair type, and general lifestyle needs are other things to keep in mind when figuring out how long you should keep in box braids. Different hair types hold on to styles differently, and certain lifestyle factors – like working out or swimming – can also affect the length of recommended wear time. 

Box Braids With Extensions

If you used extensions on your box braids, you may need to take them down sooner than the 6-8 week mark – usually around 3-4 weeks. Some extensions, like human hair extensions, may last longer than artificial ones.

Your hair can easily lift off the extensions, especially with washing. Most people try to get around this by not washing their hair or scalp for weeks. However, this leads to product buildup on your scalp and hair which makes it harder to clean later, prone to breakage, and lacking moisture.

Box braids with extensions can look disheveled faster if you have coily type 4A to 4C hair. This is especially true if your hairdresser did not properly attach and blend the extensions to your hair. Type 4 hair also shrinks a lot more and washing your braids will make the extensions obvious.

Instead of sacrificing scalp and hair care for the longevity of your box braids, try keeping them in for less time. Aim for no more than a month, but ideally, 3 weeks. This allows you to clean your scalp and braids without the worry of pushing the style to last for two months.

Box Braids Without Extensions

Box braids on your natural hair without extensions tend to last longer, up to 6-8 weeks with good care. They can look neater and are easier to maintain than those with extensions. Cleaning and moisturizing your scalp is easier because you can easily wash your hair regularly.

You can comfortably keep in box braids with no extensions for up to 8 weeks. As long as you do not neglect scalp care or keep your hair dirty, these box braids will serve you for a long time.

Box Braids in Hair Prone To Breakage

If you’re experiencing a hair setback and your hair is breaking off when you brush or comb it, keeping in box braids for more than 2 weeks can be detrimental. While a low-manipulation style helps tuck your hair away as it recovers, you need access to it as well.

Breaking hair needs regular TLC including moisture or protein hair masks, repair treatments, and deep conditioning. You need to be able to access your hair to look for any further damage or improvement.

Keeping in box braids for too long on hair prone to breakage can do more harm than good. Ideally, keep them for no longer than 2 weeks so you can properly treat and condition your hair.

Box Braids That Suit an Active Lifestyle

Your last consideration for how long you should keep in box braids is your lifestyle. Do you work out a lot? Are you unable to dedicate time to daily or weekly styling? Do you swim regularly? Are you often on the road or flying?

Box braids are a convenient and beautiful style. They protect your hair and take some stress off your shoulders for the period you have them in.

For those with a more active, busier life, you may want to keep your box braids in for at least 4-6 weeks. However, if you work out or swim a lot, your braids can begin to stink without proper cleaning or if you don’t thoroughly dry them when they get wet.

Removing them around the 3 week mark may be best if you don’t think you can keep up with the care and maintenance! 

Frequently Asked Questions

African American woman with medium length box braids in a pink ombre color swings her head around to fan out the braids

We’ve tried to be thorough in this guide, but we inevitably miss a few questions! Check below to see the most frequently asked questions about how long you should keep in box braids to get answers. 

Do box braids destroy your hair?

Box braids can lead to traction alopecia if worn too tightly over time. This is where you lose hair because you regularly wear styles that are too tight, especially around the hairline.

As long as you don’t tightly braid your box braids and regularly give your hair a break, box braids should not damage your hair.

Are box braids for everyone?

Box braids are great for anyone with textured or curly hair. Straight hair cannot hold a small braid as well as coarse or ultra-curly hair and can easily break off, especially with extensions.

Why does hair grow faster in box braids?

Your hair does not actually grow faster in box braids. Box braids make it easier to retain length because they offer a low manipulation protection style.

However, you can still lose length when undoing and combing out if not done gently and correctly. So be careful during the installation and takedown processes!

Can you get box braids wet?

Yes, you can get box braids wet. Whether your box braids are with or without extensions, ensure you wring them dry and blow dry them to avoid mold. Don’t get them wet regularly.

Box braids with extensions will get very heavy when wet as the extensions soak up extra water. This isn't as much of an issue with box braids done with only natural hair.

When should you remove box braids?

Box braids can last 4-6 weeks with good care and maintenance. You can keep box braids in for as long as 8 weeks if needed, but regular scalp oiling and moisture is essential.

You should remove box braids when they begin getting frizzy, unraveling, or becoming uncomfortable on your scalp. If you notice scalp redness or flakes, it may be time to give your hair a break.

So, How Long Should You Keep in Box Braids?

There are many factors that determine how long you should keep box braids in, from your scalp health to your braid size. In general, 4-6 weeks is the consensus for how long you should keep your box braids.

Nonetheless, you can stretch this to 8 weeks or drop it to as little as 1 or 2 weeks if it suits you.

Remember that it is essential to maintain proper scalp and hair care so your box braids last a long time. You also want to have a style you feel confident knowing it won’t unravel or frizz up.

It never hurts to take your braids out sooner than recommended – in fact, that can help ensure your braids help you hit all your hair goals!