Why Are They Called Box Braids

Box braids are a type of hairstyle originating from African roots. The box braids emerged as a “protective hairstyle”, which protects and makes the hair stronger. Fashionable as well as functional, box braids are one of the best hairstyles out there!

But Why Are They Called Box Braids? As the hair is divided into small square sections, resembling boxes, they are called “box braids”.

In this article, we’ve covered all the details, from the history of box braids to their impact on today’s lifestyle. Continue reading to know everything there’s to know about box braids! 

When Were Box Braids Invented?

When Were Box Braids Invented

The existence of box braids dates as far back as 3,000 years ago. Brading was prominent in African countries, but this particular type of braiding may have originated in Namibia. 

In the past, hairstyles were used to distinguish between tribes. Brading was seen as a symbol of prosperity, given the time and effort that went into making them. Religion, caste and social status were also tied to the braiding style. 

Who Wore box Braids First?

Why Are They Called Box Braids

As box braids date all the way back to 3500 B.C, there’s no official record of who wore the first box braids. But it’s highly likely that the women of the western parts of Africa (present-day Namibia) invented box braids and were the first to wear them. 

The Khoisan and Afar tribes of South Africa were also among the early wearer of box braids. 

There are photographs dating back to 1884 of a Senegalese woman wearing box braids similar to the way they’re worn today. 

Why Are Box Braids Called Box Braids?

Why Are Box Braids Called Box Braids

Box braids are a protective hairstyle made using synthetic hair extensions. There are square-shaped partings on each braid. As these square-shaped divisions resembled “boxes”, the hairstyle was named “box braids.” 

The box braids were not given any specific name till the 1990s. Even though the word was used by many, pop star Janet Jackson popularised the term “box braids”.

Are Box Braids A Good Protective Style?

Box braids are one of the most popular protective hairstyles. 

Generally, box braids are installed using synthetic hair extensions, which help to add thickness and protect the natural hair in the braid. This hairstyle effectively protects the tips and roots of the hair from split ends.

As the hair remains tucked away in the braids, minimising exposure to the harsh environment outside, the damage done to the hair is decreased. The braids make the hair stronger and enhance length retention. 

Compared to other hairstyles, box braids can be worn for a more extended period, approximately eight weeks. Moreover, the braids don’t require much maintenance. Oiling and shampooing 2-3 times a week is enough for box-braided hair. 

Are Box Braids Part of Black Culture?

Are Box Braids Part of Black Culture

Box braids are an integral part of Black culture and heritage. Originating from the African civilization, box braids have evolved over time and still remain one of the most prominent hairstyles in the Black community today. 

Initially, braids were used to differentiate between tribes and castes as each had its unique hairstyles. Among them, box braids were considered to be a mark of sophistication, as they required more time and effort to be made. 

In this way, braids became not only a part of the Black culture but also were an essential part of an individual’s identity. 

Today, the modern Black community proudly wear their braids and box braids have evolved into a fashionable and trendy hairstyle.

What Is The Difference Between Box Braids And Regular Braids?

Difference Between Box Braids And Regular Braids

The main difference between box braids and regular braids is that regular braids don’t have a knot at their base, where the synthetic hair extension is to be added. Whereas box braids start with a knot at the bottom. Other differences are:

a. Scalp Sensitivity

This knot at the base makes box braids less flexible and tends to pull more on the hair roots and scalp. Whilst regular braids are more flexible and gentler on the scalp. 

b. Installation and Styling

Regular box braids don’t require much time for styling and can be made anywhere at any time if you have a brush and a hairband. It’ll only take a few minutes, depending on the length of your hair.

On the contrary, box braids take 5-8 hours to be installed. You may need help as it’s a complicated process. 

c. Longevity 

While box braids can last as long as eight weeks, regular braids aren’t meant to last that long. You can take off regular braids at any time you want.

d. Requirements

In order to get box braids, your hair needs to be long and thick. Whereas regular braids are versatile and can be made with short, long, thick or thin hair.

e. Cost

Regular braids don’t cause much and can be done within the comfort of your home. But box braids are expensive as it’s highly likely that you’ll need to go to a salon for the process. 

Box braid installations can cost you anywhere between $50 to $75, or even more, depending on your styling preferences and the location of the saloon. 

Why Get Box Braids?

You should get box braids as they’re an amazing hairstyle. They’re trendy as well as practical. You’ll be safeguarding your hair while at the same time looking fashionable and stylish. 

There are plenty of good reasons to get box braids; they’re low maintenance, trendy, and last long. If you’re bored with your hairstyle and want to try something fun and new, you can consider getting box braids.


Are box braids dreads?

While box braids and dreads look similar, they’re entirely different hairstyles. Box braids are more square-shaped, whereas dreads are smaller and rounder.

Do box braids look good on everyone?

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so it’s up to you to decide whether it looks good on you. While no hairstyle is considered bad, you should choose a style that matches your personality and fashion sense. 

Why can’t I wear box braids?

To wear box braids, your hair needs to be long-lengthed, thick and strong. Box braids can be made with short and thin hair. If you can’t wear box braids due to your hair length, wait for them to grow and try again.

Are box braids appropriate for work?

Whether box braids are appropriate or not depends on the rules and regulations of the workplace. While most workplaces allow box braids, there may be some exceptions which don’t. To be safe, check the codes on appearance and dressing before getting box braids. 

Which hair extension styles best for box braids?

The best hair extension for box braids is Kanekalon hair, a high-quality synthetic hair extension. It’s a fibre made from a combination of acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride by co-polymerization.

What size box braids last longer?

Larger box braids don’t last long as the gap between the braids is bigger. If you want longer-lasting braids, opt for small-sized braids. 

how to unstiffen box braids

If you’ve just gotten box braids, you might be wondering how to keep them from looking too stiff.

One way to do this is to wear them down without restyling them right away. Putting your braids into a ponytail immediately after getting them done can increase the amount of tension on your scalp. Instead, try letting your box braids hang loose for a while to help soften them up.

You can also try using a leave-in conditioner or oil to help moisturize your hair and give it a more natural look and feel.

Related Articles:

  • Are Box Braids Cultural Appropriation
  • What Gel To Use For Box Braids
  • What To Do After Taking Out Box Braids From Your Head


With box braids getting more popular and trendy daily, it’s natural to wonder Why Are They Called Box Braids. It’s also important to know the origin and history behind it.

We hope this article has satisfied your curiosity regarding box braids and their rich history. 

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!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *