Box braids are more than just a distinct hairstyle. It has a rich history that’s highly significant to the African culture, which might make you hesitate to get them if you don’t have African roots. However, as long as you have the right intentions, then your African hairstylist will be more than happy to let you get them.
But how do you know if your box braids wouldn’t offend anyone? This topic can be difficult to talk about, but every person has to be educated on different “fashion trends” that may relate to a certain culture, such as box braids, cornrows, and other types of tight braids. Besides, being educated isn’t only to avoid being offensive, but to also let you share your knowledge to anyone who might don an outfit or hairstyle without being aware of its origins.
That said, let’s discuss everything you need to know about box braids, from its cultural value down to maintenance tips.
1. Is it Cultural Appropriation?
According to some celebrity hairstylists, wearing box braids is cultural appropriation if you did it for the wrong reasons, such as stating that it is a trend started by a celebrity. This reasoning discredits women of color who have been wearing the hairstyle for years prior it was declared a “trend.” Moreover, it implies that the hairstyle is only appropriate when celebrities sport them, but “unprofessional,” and “ghetto” for Black women, who are the original wearers of box braids.
That said, make sure you have the right intention for getting box braids. You should do it to express your respect for the culture instead of just being trendy. Educate yourself first about its original purpose, which is to distinguish different tribes, marital status, age, wealth, religion, and social status. In some Caribbean islands, braids had intricate patterns that signified a map, which the people used as a way to escape slavery.
You should also give credit to box braid’s original style name, which is Bantu knots.
Knowing those bits of historical details is essential before getting box braids, as it’s the only way you could use it to inspire other people. That said, even if Kim Kardashian is your initial inspiration for getting the hairstyle, don’t book an appointment until you read about its history.
2. How Long Should They Be Kept?
Box braids can last from 4 to 6 weeks, but experts approve of keeping them on for 8 weeks at max. Keeping them longer than that may cause matting and tangling, which may lead to hair damage.
3. Is It Doable for Any Hair Type?
If you have wavy, coiled, or curly hair, box braids will look splendid on you, but you don’t have to alter your hair type just to get gorgeous box braids. You don’t even need human hair to rock the style. Synthetic hair extensions hold box braids well, and it will most likely be recommended by your hairstylist if you have thin, coarse hair.
4. Should They Be Very Tight?
If your scalp is pretty tough, then it won’t likely suffer the tension of the braid’s tightness. On the other hand, if have a sensitive scalp, the tightness and tugging may be uncomfortable, so consider getting knotless box braids.
5. How Do I Keep it Shiny and Fragrant?
Since you’d keep your box braids on even when you bathe and sleep, keeping its shine and fragrance is important. There’s also the matter of possible breakage, so maintain your beautiful box braids by using an effective hair-care product, such as the famous African Pride Olive Miracle Anti-Breakage Braid Sheen Spray or other products from other excellent brands.
Now that your critical questions about box braids have been answered, you can consult your hairstylist and book your first box braids appointment. Again, remember to wear it to spread knowledge, not just to be trendy.