We always are excited when about to get a fresh set of box because you get to get a new look that promises weeks of low-maintenance, but unfortunately those weeks are numbered. The key to effective protective styling is having the patience to keep a style in for an extended period of time. So how long should you keep in your box braids?
It varies for each person. Depending on how well you care for your hair, you can leave in your look for a bit longer than others can. On the flip side, fine hair types may not be able to deal with the tension of extension braids for too long. If you’re not sure of your particular hair deal, you can’t go wrong by following the two -month rule. It’s cool to leave in box braids, or any extension protective style, in for up to one month, but do not leave in longer than two months. That second month is the absolute final expiration date.
But it’s just as important to know when to take it down. Here are signs that you’re due for a re-set
New Growth: When your roots start separating from the braid, due to growth, it’s time to remove. Because the new growth is hanging onto the braid, it’s prone to twisting and tangling.
Your ends are snapping: The objective of protective styling is to preserve your ends, so if they start breaking you are defeating the purpose. Ends breakage typically happens when your protective style is too dry. Try pulling lightly on your twists or braids from root to tip. If there are broken ends in your hands, then it’s time for a re-do. Note: If you are wearing a cornrowed or flat twist updo style, your are particularly susceptible to ends breakage, as most of the hair is hidden and tucked away, and can’t be properly moisturized by a spritz.
Build up: If you start to feel product build-up or lint cluster into your braids, it’s time to take those bad girls out. Because your hair is braided, all of the moisturizer and conditioners you’ve been applying overtime, will build-up, causing some serious knots.
Frizz: This is the easiest sign to spot. When gels, hair spray, and creams can no longer tame the frizz, it may be time to take down this look. Of course, box braids and other extension braided or twisted hairstyles don’t have to look super neat all the time. In fact a lot of women prefer a bit of wear to their look — it gives a cool,carefree, boho vibe. But there’s a difference between flexy, frizzy braids and dry, messy ones. When your real hair starts to frizz out of control, it can lead to more tangles and weak ends.
The style is not retaining moisture: Natural hair needs immersion in water to be properly moisturized, and spritzing can only do so much. If you are sleeping with a satin bonnet, and spritzing regularly but your style still feels dry, then you need a re-boot. If your twists or braids can tolerate a weekly or bi-weekly deep condition, incorporate that into your protective styling regimen. But if you’re wearing a style that can’t be immersed in water without being ruined, you’ll need a re-boot. Note: Lack of moisture leads to breakage. So no moisture, no length.
When You no longer feel good about it: The length retention/protective styling journey can be a challenging one. It takes focus and discipline, so it’s important that you keep yourself motivated. If you are hanging on to a style that is no longer attractive for the sake of retention, you are making an already challenging journey more difficult. If possible, try re-doing your edges to get them crisp again. But if you are rocking a style, like a bun or cornrow/twist updo that can’t be partially re-done, just let it go. Feeling bad about the way you look for the sake of length retention is not worth it. Note: A little fuzziness does not mean a style is unattractive. It is important for long-term protective styles to learn how to tolerate a little fuzz.