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For as long as I can remember, summer has been the unofficial box braid season. Obviously, the protective style is a year-round look that’s hardly confined to a specific type of weather. But when the weather warms up, I almost always see an uptick in braided styles in my neighborhood and amongst my fellow black girlfriends. And with that comes a desire to know how to style box braids beyond your basic down ‘do or top knot.
Though they do a good job of shielding your natural hair from the sun and making our morning routines a lot shorter, the combination of rising temps and hair flowing down our back results not only in sticky back sweat, but premature frizzing as well. Before you know it, you’re sitting in front of the TV, binging a Netflix show and removing the hair long before the time you predicted they would last until. I’ve been there one too many times and learned that if you want your box braids to look fresh beyond that first week, switching up styles isn’t just for spicing up your selfies. It’s also a low-key way to keep them in tip-top shape. Plus, variety is the spice of life, right?
The #boxbraids hashtag turns up millions upon millions of styling ideas that you probably haven’t thought of, but don’t sleep on the red carpet either. Celebrities including Amandla Stenberg, Jhene Aiko, and Chanel Iman have all flaunted some next-level looks that will definitely inspire your summer beauty uniform. From unicorn hair color to prim and proper updos, here are some of the standouts.
Who says box braids have to be long? Cut them into a chic bob like Amandla Stenberg.
You can also rock medium-sized ones like Jhene Aiko with curly ends.
A milkmaid braid a la Jessica Williams looks so elegant.
There’s also this badass half-up, half-down ‘do on FKA Twigs.
Eva Marcille’s floor-length, honey blonde braids are a surefire way to stand out.
Unicorn-colored braids, like these ones on Chanel Iman, are perfect for festival season.
Yvonne Orji’s cinnamon bun updo is a cute way to keep braids off your back in hot weather.
You can also accessorize with teeny baubles like Tessa Thompson.
Add some pizazz to a top knot with decorative string like Skai Jackson.
Clear beads are a small, but stylish touch as well; just ask Lupita Nyong’o.
Double buns styled vertical instead of across the head (like Keke Palmer’s) add a touch of elegance.
Afroball ends will turn you into a moving work of art.
A fishtail braid looks even more intricate with bold color.
Leave it to Rih to show us how to slay in jumbo box braids.
We can hardly look away from this rainbow-colored updo.
A simple top knot for lazy days.
This high ponytail is giving me Poetic Justice vibes.
A braided lob is always a good idea.
Headscarves just scream regal.