Why Are My Box Braids Stiff

Box braids are a beautiful protective hairstyle that requires little maintenance and is perfect for the summer. Many people find their braids too stiff when they receive them from their salon, and some find this uncomfortable.

So, why are my box braids stiff? Lack of moisture, detangling, and over-washing is the main reasons. Especially with African American hair, this happens more frequently.

However, there are a few ways to make your braids more manageable, fluffy, and beautiful. Let’s discuss the best natural remedies for softer braids.

Are Box Braids Stiff? 

Why Are My Box Braids Stiff

Box braids typically get stiff. Some people experience problems when wearing box braids. Instead of feeling soft and smooth, their braids seem dry, coarse, and stiff. 

This can be caused by several factors, including not moisturizing your hair, over-styling your hair with heat tools like blow dryers or flat irons, or simply having a bad quality product.

What Are The Best Tips for Making Your Box Braids Not Stiff? 

Tips for Making Your Box Braids Not Stiff?

Most hairstyles require a little preparation to look their best. Box braids are no exception and can suffer from similar hair-related problems like frizz or dryness.

Luckily, there are some things that you can do to smooth out your box braids so that they’re soft and manageable: 

I. Clean Your Hair Regularly

Wash your hair with clarifying shampoo. This will remove any build-up or oil from styling products and leave them soft.

II. Use Conditioner

Condition your hair regularly, especially if you’re using many styling products. Make sure to follow up with a moisturizing conditioner. 

III. Oil Scalp Massage

Rub a small amount of your favorite oil or moisturizer into the scalp. You can also do this before washing and conditioning your hair and right after. If you want to use a deep conditioner, apply it after the oil but before washing. 

IV. Hair Masks

Apply a hair mask for at least 20 minutes before washing and conditioning your hair. 

V. Use a Pencil

For short box braids, apply a pencil to the bottom section of your hair after styling it. This will help prevent the hair from getting stiff.

Why Are My Box Braids So Stiff?

Why Are My Box Braids So Stiff

Many things can make your braids stiff, ranging from how you styled them to the products you used after.

Lack of moistureApply moisturizer
Over-washingStop over-washing
Lack of conditionerUse conditioner
Using the wrong productsUse sulfate-free products
Lack of detanglingDetangle regularly

a. Lack of Moisture 

The leading cause of stiffness is a lack of moisture. If you don’t moisturize your hair regularly, 


Apply natural moisturizer before styling and afterward as well. Oil is a natural way to keep your hair from drying out. 

b. Over-Washing 

Another reason for this issue is over-washing your hair. Too much shampooing can lead to dryness.


Change up your routine. Wash your hair with a gentler shampoo twice a week instead of every time you wash. 

c. Lack of Conditioner 

Conditioners are an essential part of your hair care routine. They help to soften and smooth out dry hair. 


Apply conditioner after washing your hair. Leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing out. 

d. Using the Wrong Products 

The wrong product can also make your hair stiff. Using too many gels or styling products can make it feel dry and rough.


When buying products, make sure to check the ingredients. Use sulfate-free products. 

e. Lack of Detangling 

When you’ve braids or twists in your hair, it’s vital to detangle them regularly. Most people don’t like to detangle because of the time it takes out of their day.


Detangle before washing your hair, then again right after. 

Why Are My Box Braids Getting Loose?

Box braids are one of the most popular hairstyles, but when you wear them for extended periods, they can become challenging to maintain. One problem that people may run into is that they begin to lose their shape and break easily.

Because of hair growth, your hair is continuously rising. When you sleep with box braids, the pressure on your scalp will cause the roots of your hair to become loose.

How Can I Soften My Braids?

Box braids can be a little stiff sometimes. You may need a quick refresher on how to soften your braids. All you need is to use Warm Water. 

The hot water will help the braids move and soften. You can also use a heat cap if you don’t want to use hot water.

What Are Some Other Things I Can Do to Take Care of My Hair While Wearing Box Braids? 

Take Care of My Hair

You can do a few things to take care of your hair while wearing box braids. Here are a few tips:

Leave in Conditioner 

Use a leave-in conditioner to keep your hair moisturized, soft, and tangle-free. The conditioner will help your braids keep their shape longer and reduce frizz.

Deep Conditioning 

During the wash cycle, be sure to add a little extra deep conditioner to your hair. Let the conditioner sit for about 10 minutes and rinse with cool water until it runs clear. 

Scalp Care 

Use a soft-bristled brush to brush your scalp gently. This will stimulate the blood flow and help with dandruff. 

Braid Care 

Ensure the ends of your braids are not curling up or getting caught in the hair tie. This can cause damage to your braids. Over time, this will become a bigger issue and may cause breakage.

What Causes An Itchy Scalp With Box Braids?

1. Tight braids can cause scalp irritation: If your braids are too tight, they can pull on your hair and irritate your scalp. This can lead to itchiness and discomfort.

2. Sandy hair is caused by exposure to the sun and sea: If you spend time in the sun or salt water, your hair can become sandy. This can cause an itchy scalp as the sand rubs against your skin.

3. Box braids can go wrong and lead to a tender and raw scalp: If you don’t take care when installing box braids, they can pull on your hair and damage your scalp. This can lead to an itchy, raw, and tender scalp.

4. Apple cider vinegar can help relieve tension and irritation: Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe an itchy scalp caused by tight braids or box braids gone wrong.

Box Braids for Non-African Hair: Cultural Appropriation or Fashion Statement?

 Cultural Appropriation

Box braids are a type of hairstyle that is traditionally associated with African culture. The style involves braiding the hair into small, tight sections, often using colorful beads or other decorations to add flair.

While box braids can be worn by anyone, some people argue that non-Africans should not wear them because it is considered cultural appropriation. Others argue that box braids are simply a fashionable hairstyle that can be enjoyed by anyone.

There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument. On one hand, box braids do have a long history and meaning within African culture. For many Africans, they are more than just a hairstyle – they are an important part of their identity. Wearing box braids if you are not African can be seen as disrespectful or insensitive to this history and culture.

On the other hand, some people argue that box braids are simply a stylish way to wear your hair – and that anyone should be able to enjoy them without worrying about cultural appropriation. They point out that many African-American celebrities and fashion icons have popularized the style in recent years, making it more mainstream and accessible to everyone.

Ultimately, whether or not you choose to wear box braids is up to you. If you do decide to wear them, it is important to be respectful of the history and culture behind the hairstyle.


Why are my box braids sticking up?

Your braids can stick up because of dryness; use a lot of moisturizing products on the section before you start to braid.

Are box braids supposed to be tight?

Box braids are not supposed to be tight; braiding hair is supposed to be comfortable. However, tight braids aren’t good for hairline, scalp, and hair.

What are the braids called that look like dreads?
  • Senegalese twists: These are two-strand twists that start at the root and work their way down the length of your hair.
  • Havana twists: Havana twists are similar to Senegalese twists, but they use a thicker strand of hair.
  • Kinky twists: Kinky twists are two-strand twists that use a very fine strand of hair.
  • Braided dreads: Braided dreads are created by braiding small sections of hair and then securing the ends with a rubber band or clip.
  • Crochet dreads: Crochet dreads are created by crocheting synthetic hair into your natural hair.


The main reason why are my box braids stiff is because of dryness. To prevent this from happening, apply a lot of moisturizer to the hairline before starting the braid. It won’t be a problem if this still happens after applying moisturizer. 

However, you can ask your stylist to loosen up the braid a little bit or loosen up your braiding slightly to prevent them from being stiff. Good luck!

By Cindy Mahlangu

Hey there! I'm Cindy Mahlangu, a pro hairstylist with a serious passion for natural hair care. My mission? To inspire and educate others on the beauty and benefits of protective hairstyles. Through my creative writing, aim to empower individuals to embrace their unique hair texture and confidently care for their locks. So, whether you're rocking locs, braids, or twists, join me on this hair journey and let's achieve healthy, fabulous tresses together!

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