The Best Yarn Braid Looks for Your Next Protective Style

yarn braids


Protective styling is so versatile. You can box braid, cornrow, Bantu knot, twist… the list goes on and on. Traditionally, a protective style like box braids uses kanekalon braiding hair made with synthetic fibers that mimic the feel of hair. We love to honor tradition, but shaking things up is usually a good thing, and yarn braids prove my theory. These brightly hued braids are everywhere. We love to see it—Black girls living their best lives, out loud, in living color. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to hair color, that’s great too! You can use yarn to create looks with deeper shades as well. Think chocolate browns and even grays. 

If you know how to install braiding hair, you’ll install the yarn with no problem—you may even save a few dollars. Yarn tends to be cheaper than kanekalon braiding hair because it stretches further since you can separate it into smaller pieces. You may be thinking, "Doesn’t yarn get hot?" The answer is yes. However, you can avoid the extra heat, particularly in the summer months, if you use acrylic yarn and not wool. Wool yarn can also be drying to your coils, so even in colder months, you may want to skip using it altogether. 

One final tip we want to add to your haircare toolbox, is yarn braids tend to be lighter than traditional box braids. However, once the yarn is wet, the braids can become heavy and take an extended amount of time to dry. Wringing them out post-wash and wrapping them in a microfiber cloth for up to an hour can help soak up the excess water. Like most protective styles, stylists usually recommends keeping them in for four to six weeks to prevent breakage and tangles.

Now, for some inspiration. Below, we've rounded up some of the coolest yarn braids on Instagram. 

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Yarn Braid Highlights

Add dimensions to your braids by adding colorful yarn without the damage of traditional hair color.

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Neon Green Yarn Braided Cornrows

We can’t get enough of this green eyeshadow and green cornrows beauty moment. 

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Lavender and Black Yarn Braids

This lavender and black yarn duo is a beautiful pairing.

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Multi-Colored Yarn Braids

Can't decide which colors to go with during your next braiding session? Try them all! Pink, neon green, blue, white… the opportunities to brighten up your style are endless.

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Yarn Braided Pixie

Cropped braided looks are chic and cool, and adding a pop of color with yarn can help your look take on new life.

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Cropped Yarn Braids

Yarn braids can work on any length or cut, and these blue and yellow yarn braids make this cropped look the epitome of hair envy.

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Yellow and Turquoise Yarn Braids

Two-toned hair can be achieved in more than one way, and here we see Frokyo braid each half of her hair in two different colors. 

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Yarn Braided Bob

This yarn bob is sleek and intricately crafted since Bliss used more than one color to braid her hair. If you want to try this at home, check out her tutorial

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Yarn Wrapped Jumbo Braids

Accessorizing braids with yarn is also an option. Here we see neon yarn used to wrap the natural hair color underneath. 

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Neon Pink Yarn Braids

Neon pink looks beautiful on Sherice’s brown skin, and her two buns frame her face perfectly.

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Cotton Candy Yarn Braids

I’ve never thought about cotton candy braids until now, and boy are these yarn braids sweet. 

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Multi-Hued Yarn Braids

These aren't quite micro-braids, but their small size and length make the gray yarn and colorful accents stand out. 

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Floor-Length Neon Orange Braids

Ok, these braids made me stop and save (to my Instagram folder). Want to make a statement? Floor-length neon orange braids will do just that.

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Pastel Yarn Braids

Fairy but make it fashion. These whimsical, pastel hues give Hayley's braids a springy, fairytale-esque feel we love. 

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Bright Blue Bun

This blue yarn braided bun is show-stopping, but could add some stress to your scalp and edges if you're not careful. Be sure to let your hair down overnight and limit the updos if you do find your buns too heavy. 

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Two-Toned Middle-Parted Yarn Braids

Faith's braids show how texture and color can reimagine a traditional protective style. 

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Colorful Highlights

Colorful highlights coupled with two free-flowing ponytails give these braids dimension and a cool-girl look I can't get enough of. 

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