Over the winter break, I installed box braids to Z’s hair for the first time. I did the following pre-install routine: shampoo, protein treatment, deep condition, moisturize, and seal. Next, I used the tension method to stretch her natural hair before separating it into four sections. I soaked her braiding hair into a sink of apple cider vinegar and water to remove some of the hair’s chemical coating. This helps reduce irritation on the scalp. After air drying over night, I cut the braiding hair to approximately 18 inches long.
Rubber Band Method
The technique I used was the rubber band method. I did scallop parting to reduce the pressure of creating perfectly even box parting. I took a small section of hair, applied shea butter at the ends, and EcoStyler gel before securing with a band. Then I incorporated the braiding hair into her hair starting at the band and braided pretty much to the very end of the hair. Y’all, my thought process was not to make the braids super long since this was our first trial at this. However, I quickly found out that her hair was 1-2 inches shy of the actual extension. Her hair is so long! Since I had already cut all the braiding hair to one length, I had to pull/stagger the ends of the extensions quite a bit to add more length once I braided it into her hair. It worked fortunately however, I may have to go for 20 inches of hair next time to accommodate her length.
My First Box Braid Results
Once completed, I created 80 box braids across her entire head over a course of three days. I dipped the ends of her braids into hot water to set her hair and prevent unraveling. Finally I oiled her scalp with a homemade oil mixture of JBCO, EVO, and Tea Tree Oil. I was impressed with the final results and Z loved her braids! Thank you for the rubber band method. Otherwise, I probably would not have attempted box braiding via the traditional method.
Post Braid Hair
The original plan was to keep the box braids in for four weeks. At the fourth week mark, her braids still looked great. Therefore, we extended the install for another two weeks. For maintenance, I sprayed her braids with Aloe Vera juice and distilled water. She covered her hair nightly. After six weeks, we found time in our schedule to take her braids down. My husband helped and Z helped to unravel the ends. The pick comb helped tremendously in this process! I was so relieved that the take down only took three hours. And her hair was still moisturized.
Following the braid removal, I simply washed and conditioned her hair. I twisted her hair and called it a night. She is currently going into week two of her twists. I plan to give her hair a good deep conditioning and maybe a slight trim. My plan is to put her hair into mini puff balls and perhaps try for a second install. I definitely will make the braids and sections slightly bigger to cut down on install time.