Box braids are considered one of the most versatile and stylish protective styles. After getting the box braids installed, a key concern I used to have was: How long should I keep the box braids in?
The challenge with a braided hairstyle is that if you leave it in for too long, you risk damaging your hair. At the same time, if you also take it out too soon, you will be manipulating your hair too soon and not getting the maximum benefit from the style.
You need a balance.
In this article we will analyse 7 factors that may affect the duration of time box braids can last after installation.
How long do box braids last?
Box braids can last anywhere between 4 weeks to 6 weeks after installation.
Whilst you will see some people advocating for leaving the box braids for more than 3 months, it’s not recommended at all.
Leaving your box braids for longer than 6 weeks will lead to damage. It will result in build-up that is both difficult to clean but can also lead to other scalp issues.
Thinning edges due to the strain and tension over a period of time may also result from box braids being left in for too long.
Factors affecting how long box braids last
Box braids longevity varies from one person to another because of many factors we shall cover shortly.
For instance, if you have a faster hair growth rate your box braids won’t last as long as someone who has a slower hair growth rate.
Another factor is styling. If you are always styling your box braids, you are manipulating the hair and so it won’t last long, whereas if you do minimal styling, it can last longer.
Here are 7 factors that affect how long box braids last
1. How well you take care of your box braids
Box braids that are well taken care of can last up-to 6 weeks while neglected braids will start to wear out as soon as 2 weeks after installation.
Even if you have your hair in a protective style, it still needs some bare minimum maintenance.
Your scalp needs a lot of constant care. You can use braid sprays for a quick sprinkle especially when you are in a rush.
Have designated days for thorough cleansing and moisturising. A hot oil treatment and gentle massage is a great way to care for the scalp after washing.
Related Article: How to care for braids so they last long
Remember not to over style as that will gradually destroy your edges and ultimately lead to hair loss because of the wear and tear you keep subjecting your hair to.
When you sleep ensure, you have your silk scarf to wrap your hair. This will help your braids last longer as the silk cover prevents unnecessary friction making the protective style last longer.
Lastly, take breaks of at least 3-4 weeks before installing another braided hairstyle.
2. Hair care before installation
Before doing the box braids, you need to ensure that your hair is strong enough to handle the braids.
Start by clarifying the using a clarifying shampoo or Apple Cider Vinegar. This will help remove build up that is in your hair.
Proceed to deep condition or use a protein treatment at least twice before doing the box braids.
3. How loose or tight the braids are
How you have your box braids installed, will determine the longevity of the braids.
Moderately tight box braids will last longer than loosely done box braids.
The disclaimer here is that don’t go overboard with the tightness as it will lead to breakage.
The tightness of your box braids also affects your scalp and so you should only choose what is comfortable for you. It will also have an impact on your final look and sometimes this is purely personal preference.
4. The products you use
Just because your hair is protected doesn’t mean it can be neglected or you should abandon your regimen.
Box braids are usually synthetic and they will dehydrate your hair over time which is why you should invest in hair products.
The right braid products will help with the elasticity of the braids, strength and maintain the growth of your hair.
Using products such as braiding custards and braid sprays will ensure your box braids last from 4-8 weeks.
With products, avoid the heavy ones as they will lead to build-up.
A great DIY DIY product to use is Apple Cider Vinegar. After every 2-3 weeks clarify your box braids using Apple Cider Vinegar. It will do a good job at removing build-up and nourishing the braided hair.
Box braids are one of the most versatile when it comes to styling. You can play with the hair and make it very stylish and need I say exquisite. From a simple bun to bow ties to pinned back bangs, you can really look amazing in any of these styles.
That said, let your hair be for the most part and avoid over styling as this will end up doing more harm than good especially to your beautiful edges.
Over-styled box braids will not last long, so go moderate in your styling.
Also, don’t leave your box braids in a style that exerts tension on the scalp for too long. An example here is having the box braids in a bun for more than 2 weeks. This may strain the hairline.
6. Moisturising routine
Moisturised box braid will last long as your hair constantly needs moisture to stay nourished. Moisturizing can be done in different ways that will help your hair ultimately.
At the very least, you should invest in a spray bottle that you can use to sprinkle some water to you scalp and hair. You can also consider water-based products as they will help keep your hair hydrated.
Wash your box braids occasionally to clean them clean and hydrated.
7. Hair growth rate
The faster your hair grows the shorter your box braids will last since the growth will be quickly visible which makes the braids look old quickly.
When your hair is in a protective style and there is minimal manipulation, hair will grow well.
You will notice significant hair growth after four to six weeks. However, you should avoid keeping it in for too long as it will lead to hair breakage and take you back two steps.
Final word: whilst box braids are great for protecting the hair (if well installed and taken care of), you must exercise caution and don’t wear them for too long, and too frequently. This will result in hair damage 
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