Box braids 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 pricey cost of anywhere between $100-$300. 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.
Here are 12 large and jumbo box braid styles to help inspire you to finally commit to the style gracing our Insta-feeds.
Let your braids do the work. After all, you didn’t get show-stopping braids for nothing, did you? To accomplish this style, pull all of your braids back into a bun except for a few face-framing pieces. Let the loose braids hang free, either all together to one side or split down the middle.
Bring an everyday feel to the box braid with this style. 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. Now you can take selfie after selfie without worrying about any flakes getting in the way.
Go for a mature half-up, half-down hairstyle by tying a few of your large braids closer to the nape of your neck. Let the rest hang freely.
Center-Part Box Braids
After making sure your scalp is nice and clean by using a product like Curlsmith's 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 an accessory of your choice.
Balayage Large Box Braids
Still obsessed with balayage? Same. Ask your stylist to blend your braids so that the hair gets lighter as it transitions from your scalp to your ends.
Even though Aliya Will 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 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 ($29), a scalp rebalancing treatment that doesn’t have to be washed out, you can afford to draw extra attention to your baby hairs and let your braids fall where they may.
On those days when our brows are just too good to let hide behind large braids, we opt for a fan favorite: a topknot. Simply loop your braids up into a twist, and then take to your baby hair, using a gel like Oribe's Curl Gelée for Shine & Definition ($44) to smooth out and design your edges.
Pop of Color
If you want to step into the world of brightly colored strands without going all the way, add four or five large braids in a fun color like purple, green, or pink.
Who among us doesn’t secretly wish she was edgier? By adding metallic accessories and tying in a simple black bandana, you, too, can feel like the e-girl of your dreams.
Add a little levity to your braids by reaching for soft, colorful stands, like this sugary look that’s giving us major cotton candy vibes. Pile your large braids atop your head, and add a clip or two to add some flair.
Two unique ways to differentiate your braids from the others across the internet are to switch up your parts and to add details. Natural details like these cowrie shells turn your hair into a true work of art.