Box braids, which can be anywhere from $100 to $300 to install, are a killer protective style. Instead of a damaging blowout or straightening treatment, box braids don’t require any heat at all. Instead, your stylist will focus on treating your hair beforehand, and on helping you understand the process for keeping hair healthy for as long as you keep the box braids installed. Like most braiding styles, it’s going to take a while. Prepare to spend more than just the afternoon in the salon chair—instead, you’re looking at a full day’s work, hence the cost. But once the washing, drying, sectioning, and braiding is complete, you’re set for up to eight weeks of a hairstyle that you can count on.
But, just because you have your dream hairstyle, that doesn’t mean you have to just let it sit there. Mix things up instead by turning to our favorite inspiration of all things beauty and haircare: Instagram. The hair influencers (Hairfluencers?) of Instagram have truly nailed the look of box braids, turning that time-consuming endeavor into a work of art. They’re here to help you take your large braids and transform them into artful high buns, sweet ponytails, and more.
Here are 20 large box braid styles to help inspire you to finally commit to the style gracing our Insta-feeds.
These Delicate Strands
Let your braids do the work. After all, you didn’t get show-stopping large braids for nothing, did you? To accomplish this style, pull all of your braids back into a tight low bun with the exception of two braids. Once those braids are hidden, let two braids fall loose, with one on either side of your face to frame your cheekbones.
Side Swooping Large Box Braids
The best thing about box braids is that just a simple movement can totally shift the look: push your hair over one shoulder for a flirty look that highlights collarbones. Scalp health is always big with braids, especially given that much of your hair is in a protective style, so if your scalp starts to feel like it could use a good scrub, try an exfoliating scrub like this one from Eva NYC, which is gentle enough that it won’t mess with your braids. Then, continue to flirt with confidence.
This Low Ponytail Look
Bring the everyday braid to the box braid with this twist on the box braid hairstyle. The secret to a look like this one is a healthy scalp, and Oribe's Serene Scalp Soothing Leave-On Treatment ($48) has a tiny tip that makes it easy to deposit product just where you need it so you can take selfie after selfie without worrying about any flakes getting in the way of those likes.
Center-Part Box Braids
After making sure your scalp is nice and clean by using a product like Curlsmith Curl Quenching Conditioning Wash ($56) make the center-part your new look by making it the centerpiece of your large braids. Top things off with your
Even though Aliya wears her hair in locs, this is a style that would look just as incredible with box braids. Pile your large braids onto your head, and let the wrap take to the spotlight. I love a neutral tone like this one, and you can mix things up by choosing a fabric that feels true to your personality and sense of style.
Celeb-Inspired Knotted Braids
While celebs like Rihanna have turned to the knotless box braid, Jhene Aiko proves that there’s still a place for knotted large braids. By focusing on a healthy scalp with help from a killer product like IGK's Trust Issues ($15), a scalp rebalancing treatment that doesn’t have to be washed out, you can afford to draw extra attention to your little baby hairs and get away with not really having a part at all. Instead, let your braids fall where they may.
A Top Knot
On those days where our brows are just too good to let hide behind large braids, we opt for a fan favorite: a top knot. Simply loop your braids up into a twist, and then take to your baby hair, using a gel like Oribe Curl Gelée for Shine & Definition ($44) to smooth out and design your edges.
Twinning With Large Braids
As soon as I saw this look, I was like, okay, is it time for me to get box braids? Because look at how sweet this is. Plus, it’s proof that the top knot trend isn’t going anywhere, and rightfully so. A pile of large braids surrounded with flowing strands is a great way to stand out in a crowd (or, these days, on your Instagram feed).
Beyond parting your hair this way or that, two unique ways to differentiate your braids from the others across the internet are to switch up your parts (are you seeing these zigzags? Because I’m obsessed) and to add details. Natural details like these metallic clips and cowrie shells turn your hair into a true work of art.