Braiding African American hair is a gorgeous way to keep it well-maintained and neat for several weeks without bothering to do it every single day, which also gives an opportunity to add extra length and volume to your natural hair by incorporating synthetic strands (or extensions made out of natural hair) into the braids. There’re also numerous hairstyles you may create out of long-term little box or cornrow braids like messy or ordinary buns, knotted hairstyles, braided updos, when you use one or several thin braids instead of hair strands, half-up half-down hairstyles, etc. Combining different braiding techniques to create a hairstyle on your own hair is a good idea as well. You may secure your hair away from the face on one side by cornbraiding and let the rest of the braids fall straight from the part by making box braids.
I’m not the one to tell you that it’s quite difficult, almost impossible, to grow out afro hair and even keep it looking semi-decent without having to chop the ends regularly, untangle and twist the curls, as black girls are unfortunate to have quite thin hair that can be easily damaged. Moreover, the ends often lack ‘nutrition’ from the roots due to the curly texture of the hair, that’s why they tend to break off so much. Also, it’s always a struggle to keep black hair well-moisturized and provide enough treatment to make it look shiny and healthy. I’m not even going into detail on brushing your tight curls…
That pain is something you can’t understand if you’ve never experienced it. And it takes so long to brush it through carefully. Who in the world has time for that? Moreover, even if you stick to the hair maintenance routine and do everything possible to grow out your hair, it’s still difficult to achieve a decent length.
That’s why most women prefer keeping their natural afro hair quite short and either wear weaves or go to the hairdressers to get a sew-in weave attached to their natural cornrow braided hair to achieve more natural (and more reliable) result and enjoy the length, volume and smooth, silky texture of their new hair. Purchasing hair rows and trying to sew them in on your own might save you some money on hairdresser’s visit, but it’s quite difficult to achieve a decent look when you have little practice in sewing in the weave or don’t have someone to assist. Besides, this process is quite time-consuming and you will very quickly get tired of constantly keeping your hands over your head. So, you probably won’t do the greatest job on the last sections without taking multiple breaks.
And, that’s why it’s better to find an experienced hairdresser and book an appointment to get your hair done professionally. Visit HireRush.com to find a hair stylist who works within your local area and may even come to your house to recreate any hairstyle you want. Scroll through the hairdressers’ profiles and call the ones, whose ads sounded the most appealing to you.
However, there’re a lot of things you can do at home on your own or with the help of your friend or family member. Today I’ll walk you through the process of cornrow and box braiding black hair, as those are the most convenient hairstyles which allow incorporating hair extensions without applying any complicated braiding or sewing techniques. So, let’s get started, shall we?
How to braid cornrows
Cornrows are basically small Dutch braids braided closely to the scalp. Attaching hair extensions is not necessary at all if you’re satisfied with the length of your hair, or if you’re not willing to put them on your child’s head. However, incorporating hair extensions makes your braids and entire hairstyle more voluminous. Just make sure to purchase enough packs of hair extensions. It’s possible to play with the length of your hair, define how thick or thin your braids should be, add colorful strands of hair to enliven the hairstyle, etc.
As cornrow braids usually stay neat for a couple of weeks or up to a month, it’s better to wash your hair before braiding. Don’t forget to apply deep conditioner to your natural hair to moisturize it properly, as you won’t be able to do that for a long time. Also, it will make your hair softer and easier to braid. When that’s done, brush your hair really carefully. Do the same to hair extensions if you’ve decided to use them.
Now, prepare for quite a long process. Decide if you want bigger or smaller braids. The latter ones may create more interesting and even delicate look, but you’ll be exhausted by the time you finish braiding. As I’ve mentioned, combining different sizes of braids, braiding with the change of directions to create an interesting pattern will only improve your hairstyle. Be creative and come up with something that will suit your personality and mood.
But, a basic cornrow braid is made this way. Use the pointy end of a comb to divide a section of hair for one braid, starting from the forehead and up to the back of your head. Clip off the rest of the hair for now. Apply some hair oil to the stand to keep your hair moisturized throughout the entire period of wearing cornrow braids. Hairdressers don’t recommend using grease for that matter.
Then, pick three thin strands of the hair at the beginning of this section just near your forehead and start cornbraiding by crossing the outer strands under the middle strand one by one and adding hair to the outer pieces from the sides. Do that all the way down the scalp, incorporate all hair from the segment and finish your plat as a normal 3-strand one. If you’d like to add hair extensions, pick a strand of necessary size and incorporate it into the braid this way: take a strand of additional hair over its middle to create two strands, wrap it around a single thing strand of your natural hair.
Basically, your hair extension will turn into the two outer strands of the braid. If one side of the braid comes out to be a little bit thicker as you braid, you may split some hair from it and bring this small chunk to the thinner side.
Finish braiding the rest of the hair and you’re done!
How to do box braids
Box braids are regular three-strand plats, so they’re quite easy to braid. However, it will take you quite a while to box braid all your hair.
Treat your natural hair and extensions just as you did before cornbraiding. Moisturizing your hair properly is a key point of hair routine, as box braids stay in place even longer than cornrows. Some people can wear them up to 6-8 weeks, which is completely understandable. Either you’ve paid to your hairdresser to do the job or spent quite a lot of time to create numerous box braids on your own, you will not want to undo the hairstyle too soon.
So, after you’ve washed and brushed your hair, decide how thick or thin your braids should be and define the part. We’ll start braiding from the back of the head, creating the rows of box braids. Divide a section of hair for the first bottom row and clip off the rest of your hair. Then, use your comb to divide the first row into several ‘squares’ or ‘boxes’ to define future braids.
Take a section from the first square and incorporate your hair extension just like we did to create a cornbraid: take a strand of ‘borrowed’ hair over its middle and incorporate it into the box braid by using it as two outer strands of the 3-strand braid. Keep on braiding as you’d normally braid a regular three-strand braid, but divide some hair from the two outer ‘extension’ sections to add to the middle one once you run out of natural hair.
You may secure the ends of the braids with small elastic bands or braid your hair up to the ends and dip them into the hot water for several seconds to make sure that you braids stay in place.
Continue sectioning the rows and doing braids to complete your hairstyle. Don’t forget to apply some oil onto each strand of your natural hair to keep it moisturized and avoid flyaways. Once you reach the top of your head, start sectioning the rows parallel to the parting, so that your braids fall down straight along your face.