It’s not up for debate: Box braids will never go out of style. In fact, they’ve been around since 3500 BCE, worn by the African women of Namibia and the Nile Valley. The style carries a strong, deeply rooted cultural context and tumultuous history as one of the very first natural styles worn by women of color. Box braids really made their way back onto the scene in the early ’90s when they were donned by R&B icon Janet Jackson in the film Poetic Justice. It would be false to say they’re “having a moment in Hollywood” because box braids have been around for decades and are here to stay.
“Box braids transformed the modern world’s sense of community,” celebrity hairstylist Larry Sims says. “Braiding studios located in African American communities such as Harlem, New York, are the perfect example. Getting your hair braided in this salon environment builds unity and embraces a historical culture.” I have to agree. Last year, I swapped my straight hair for four months of box braids, and it felt like an empowering act of rebellion against societal standards of beauty. The beauty in box braids is the freedom to wear them however you see fit. “Expressions and styles have changed, but braiding patterns have remained the same,” explains Sims. “In today’s culture, braids are adorned, worn, and praised in many different ways. Men and women who wouldn’t have worn them previously now embrace them. Women are approaching the braiding style in different ways, from clean lines to braids that are organic and messy. Women are taking on a fresh approach to coolness.”
This protective style will save your hair in the midst of harsh weather conditions and preserve your time if you’re into no-fuss styles. Ahead, be inspired by celebs and influencers rocking large box braids in fresh ways. And keep scrolling for a few of my must-have hair products to keep my braids looking so fresh and so clean, clean.