Knotless Braids Vs Box Braids (Here are 7 Surprising Differences)

Whitney MosingiBox Braids, Protective HairstylesLeave a Comment

knotless braids vs box braids

Knotless braids vs box braids, what is the difference between the two and which one should you go for?


The main difference between knotless braids and box braids is that Knotless braids are started with the hair and then the braid is added using a feed-in technique giving a seamless natural look whereas the traditional box braids are installed by forming a knot around the hair.

The other key difference is that with knotless braids less tension is applied resulting in a pain free installation unlike the box braids where a lot of tension is applied while making the knot resulting in some discomfort.

If you are deciding between these two braided hairstyles, then this article is for you. We shall analyse the following key differentiating factors between knotless braids and the box braids;

  1. Installation technique
  2. Versatility
  3. How long it takes to install
  4. Scalp sensitivity
  5. Hair breakage
  6. Cost
  7. Appearance

Here are 7 key differences between knotless braids and box braids

Installation Technique

knotless braids vs box braids

Knotless braids and traditional box braids differ in the way they are installed.

For knotless braids, they appear natural and blend with the hair as they use a feed in technique. This is a technique where they start braiding your natural hair and synthetic braids are inserted mid-way or mid shaft using the feed in technique.  

On the other hand, box braids are installed by adding the braid as an extension around the base of your hair and then making a knot. The knot is used to anchor the synthetic braids to your hair.


Right after they have been installed, box braids, are generally very inflexible and difficult to style. This is because of the tension from the knot which may cause discomfort when styling.

You will therefore need to wait for some few days so that they loosen up, and for the scalp to be less sore.  

For knotless braids on the other hand, they can easily be styled right after they have been installed.

The fact that they are very light, cause no strain to the hair and look very natural makes seamless to style in any style you fancy.

How long it takes to install

One turnoff for many people when it comes to braided hairstyles is the long hours spent in the salon getting the hairstyle done.

While both  don’t take too long, knotless braids take a longer period to install because the method of installing is a bit technical. Knotless braids can take anything between four to eight hours to finish depending on the size.

Box braids on the other hand take far less time than knotless braids and so if you are looking for a quick fix, box braids are an ideal option for you. Box braids take anything from one hour to three hours to install depending on the size as well as the speed of your hair technician.

Scalp sensitivity

The scalp is very sensitive and will react differently with different styles.

Knotless braids are considered to be more gentle and therefore one does not feel pain when they are being installed. They are gentle because the braids are installed in such a way that the synthetic braids do not touch the scalp, at least not closely.

Synthetic braids generally tend to cause inflammation and makes the scalp sensitive.

On the other hand, box braids are more painful compared to knotless braids and this is because the knot is done closer to the scalp. Some people have experienced itchiness and have developed bumps on the scalp after using box braids.

When selecting between the two, it is important to know how your scalp reacts to the different styles.  

Hair breakage

Traditional box braids may cause more breakage as compared to knotless braids. If you get your knotless braids done well, there will be less friction and this will ultimately decrease the chances of hair breakage on your hair.  

If installed poorly and not maintained well, box braids can cause hair loss and lead to traction alopecia. This is caused by the constant tugging and pulling of the hair when forming the knot.

Additionally, for knotless braids, the edges remain intact whereas damage can be caused on your edges if you go the box braids route.


Since box braids take a shorter time to install, they tend to be cheaper than knotless braids.

Knotless braids will take anything from 4 – 8 hours to install and the technique is more complex hence a higher cost.

They also cost more because some products are applied on your hair like edge control and some gel to sections of your hair which increases the cost.

Generally, the difference in cost between the knotless and box braids ranges between $50 and $130; with knotless braids being the more expensive.

If you are on a strict budget, you know what to do but the downside is that they will last for a shorter time than the knotless braids

In my view, the difference between the two is a very small price to pay to have healthier hair.


Knotless braids have a seamless, natural look. The braid blend in with the bair while for the box braids, the is a knot at the base.

Now, let’s explore some cool IG profiles to see the visual difference between knotless braids and traditional box braids. Credit to all these wonderful ladies, please visit their pages and show them love.

Juicy, jumbo knotless braids

Medium-sized long knotless braids

Medium- sized box braids

Jumbo box braids


Protective styles are good for your hair as they give your hair breaks from the manipulation that comes from daily styling. They are also great if you have a busy schedule and have no time to keep styling your hair.

When searching for a perfect protective style, there are a number of factors that people look at to get the most suitable style. The factors above are a key consideration, so keep this in mind when deciding between knotless braids and box braids.

For the longest time, box braids have been very popular but recently, more people prefer knotless braids.

Even though the knotless braids have their own disadvantages, the perks definitely outweigh them. If you haven’t tried installing knotless braids, you should definitely give it a try and see how good you look.

Before you leave, you may find this recommended products page useful. Here you will find the natural hair products that my friends & I have found to be very good for natural hair.

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