Knotless Box Braids vs Traditional Box Braids

Knotless Box Braids vs Traditional Box Braids

 

box braids

 Which style is best for your Natural hair?

 

As black women, the most challenging decision we have to make every 2-3 weeks is “what should I do to my hair”. Do we want to rock a protective hairstyle like cornrows, a crochet style, or wigs? Or are we looking to style our natural hair with a twist out, a curly half up half down, or just a good old fashioned “wash n go“?  The plethora of options exists as both a blessing and curse for black women.

When it comes to braided hairstyles, they are truly a gift from the heavens! Whether you are a student, mom, nurse, or instagram baddie – braids allow convenience, versatility, and protection while encouraging hair growthStyling your natural hair becomes much more “doable” and less time consuming for the everyday, very busy, black girl. Lemonade braids, Fulani braids, and goddess braids, function first as a protective style, but also an expression of black culture, and embracing the beauty and uniqueness of black women and their hair.

In the world of YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, it really has been made easy for women to learn how to do their hair themselves. I, myself have taken many courses at the YouTube school of cosmetology! When funds are low, or finding a hairstylist is hard, resorting to your own hands is what a lot of women are doing in order to keep their hair done with the latest styles. If you’re someone like me, asking a cousin, sister, or aunt is always my go to for getting my hair braided. Girl, everybody gotta cousin who can braid! Of course, if these options are not viable, booking an appointment with a professional is always possible. There are various options when choosing a stylist who specializes in braided hairstyles. You can go to the traditional African braiding salons, who will get you in and out the chair for a reasonable price. Or most popularly, you could make an appointment with the “instagram braiders” who will give the most trendy, baby hairs laid, type of look. Cost varies on location, the stylist, the size (jumbo, large, medium, small, extra small etc.) and length.

When making an appointment, it is imperative to do your research on stylists. I always check photos on instagram of their work, and ask around about their  professionalism and the experiences of their clientele. It is no secret that many braiders and stylists are not licensed and are self taught. Use your discretion, and ask  questions to make sure your hairstylist knows the best thing to do for your hair. Listen, your hair is your crown and ensuring it will be treated and styled with care, is of utmost importance!

Choosing which type of braids can be a difficult decision, especially with options like box braids and. Both styles have their pros and cons, and it truly depends on preference, your hair type, and budget. Let’s find out which is best for you!

The OG, Box Braids 

 

There was a time about 6 or 7 years ago, when everyone either wanted box braids, was currently wearing them, or had just spent hours taking them out. They were that style in the black community, and having them in your head made you that girl! I can remember getting box braids for the first time in sixth grade. My mom sat in our dining room, watching tutorial after tutorial, practicing  so she could get her braiding grip just right! I sat in that dining room for 12 hours as my mom embarked on the daunting new task. And when she was finished, I loved them. They were small, and the tips touched the bottom of my back, so I really thought I was doing something with those long braids flowing and swinging as I walked! Box braids were a right of passage for me as a young black girl. This was the first “big girl” hairstyle I had, and I was happy to leave the ball balls and barrettes in the past! Girl, you couldn’t tell me nothing!

Like many black womenbox braids were a style you kept for the long haul, and allowed for you not to have to worry about what to do to your hair for at least a month. Whenever I got my hair braided, whether by my mom or by a professional, I could depend on the braids lasting me all through the summer for swimming and being outdoors. The time you spend in the chair can seem never ending, but is always worth it when you don’t have to worry about styling it for the next month or two.

While many black women were wearing box braids, it never felt as though we all looked the same. Women wore their braids in different styles and updos that allowed for versatility and individuality. Incorporating colors like blonde, red, or even highlights of blue and purple were sure to make someone stand out. The use of shells, beads, and gold clasps have recently become popular and definitely elevate any braiding style to make it more unique.

Depending on the braiderbox braids were reasonably priced and affordable. If done properly, the $180-200 spent can be well worth it, functioning as an investment for your natural hair.

While box braids are widely liked and convenient, they are not for everyone and have their cons. For someone like me, with fine, fragile hair – the tension and tightness of box braids can result in hair breakage, and can be painful – especially right after they have been done. People who have tender and sensitive scalps may want to choose an alternative to box braids. Another issue that can arise is dry and itchy scalp while having your hair braided. One should keep hair oil and even an apple cider vinegar rinse handy, in order to prevent buildup  and sooth an irritated scalp.

The New Girl, Knotless Braids 

 

Just like Beyoncé, knotless braids made the world stop! While similar to box braids, with the same convenience and versatilityknotless box braids introduced a new look. They were sleeker, and flatter. Unlike box braids, there was no knot at the root of the braid, allowing for a more natural looking braid. And the style has been trending for the past 3-4 years.

The appeal of knotless braids is due to their ability to give off the allusion that the 30 inch braids going down my back, are in fact growing out of my scalp! The flatness of the braids alleviated that bulky look that box braids can sometimes have. The new braiding technique for knotless braids, creates less tension on your own hair unlike traditional box braids, which in long run prevents hair breakage and a sore scalp. I believe what most appeals to black women is that you can wear these braids in a ponytail right after your appointment! Usually with box braids, sleeping on a fresh head of braids is a painful experience, so the idea of tying it up in a ponytail was a no go.

Like box braids, knotless braids look best when a person adds their own personal touch. That can be with using ombre braiding hair or Latched & Hooked braiding hair, getting out the edge control to create dramatic swoops and swirls in your baby hair, or using curly hair on the ends to give off that “goddess” look. They look good in all sizes from jumbo knotless, to super tiny knotless. If one does not want the traditional box parting, you can get triangle, scalloped, or free parts. Natural hairstyles like these are what’s trending right now, and all the girls on the For You Page, or Instagram timeline are rocking knotless braids.

Now, nobody’s perfect and knotless braids definitely have some cons that may make some people choose a better hairstyle for themselves. First things first, knotless braids are expensive! From prices starting around $200 and increasing up to $450 based on length and size and of course the braider. It is necessary to make sure you have the funds available before booking that appointment and hurting your pockets.

Another downfall, is that in my personal experience, knotless braids do not last as long as traditional box braids. Many hairstylist use a lot gelmousse, and other products to replicate that sleek look on natural hair – but that often just results in frizz and fuzz after a few weeks. This can be great a disappointment, especially if one has spent a large sum of money to get their hair done. While this may be a better alternative for people with sensitive scalps, or people who don’t want to experience breakage, the cost and longevity are factors a person should also consider.

What’s Best For You?

 

I love both traditional box braid and knotless braids, and plan to get them done again in the future. However being aware of all factors of both styles allows me to know which one to get for certain times of my life. If I were going on a week long tropical vacation, I would get knotless braids, but if I was college student needing an affordable style for the semester, I would get box braids. I believe that is the way you should make the decision, based on what is best for your hair, budget, and circumstance. While knotless braids are aesthetically appealing, and very popular at the moment, there ain’t nothing wrong with some good old faithful box braids! Both are beautiful styles that can be accessorized and elevated by the black women who wear them. Remember, it is you who makes the style look good. With any hairstyle you can be that girl who makes the world stop!

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