With upcoming travel in a couple weeks, I installed a second set of box braids in Z’s hair last Friday. I did our usual hair preparation regimen: wash, deep condition, detangle, moisturize, seal, and stretch (using the tension method). Like the first set of braids, I used the rubber band method to install the hair extensions. This method worked so well last time! Z had no damage to her hair from using the rubber bands at her roots. Tip: Use REAL rubber bands that matches your hair color, preferably. Last time I used the clear “plastic” elastic bands and after a few days, they started breaking. Therefore, I had to slide them out from her roots of her braids as they popped. This did not affect anything with the style but was an annoyance for the first two weeks.
Parting Pattern Matters for Box Braids?
The first set of braids took me a three-day span to install. This could have been due to the learning curve of adding hair extensions or the fact I installed 80 smallish braids to her head. (Yes, I counted them as we removed them as a reference not to repeat as many braids again.) I vowed at that point to not do more than 50 the second time around. I think doing scalloped parting led me to create more random sized sections versus doing an organized box parting pattern. Therefore, in attempt to save time, I decided for set number two, I would do box parting to test my theory.
What Length to Choose for Box Braids?
Last time, I bought six packs of 25 inch extensions which I cut down to 18 inches because I did not want the braids too long. Little did I know that I should have been more concerned by Z’s actual natural hair length. When I finished her first braid of her first set, her natural hair spanned about 95% of the length of the extension! This time, I decided to buy eight packs of the 20 inch. I knew I wanted them to go a little farther past her natural hair length. In hindsight, the 20 inches was better, but she could have gone with the 25 inches. My child has long hair so I should just roll with the fact that any braid extensions she gets will be down her back.
Different Game Plan for Round #2
All parting was done first prior to braiding versus the part and go method I used in the previous set. With her hair nicely stretched and with a goal number of braids in mind, this process went effortlessly! I ended up creating 46 parts which came under my goal of 50 braids. Obviously the parting was bigger than the last time, but everything was consistent and I knew my end point. With the bigger parting, I used more hair per section to help the style look fuller. With so many packs of hair, I knew I would not run out during the process.
How Did the Braiding Process Fare?
I completed her entire head from wash to braids in 14 hours. This blew my expectation because I am a slow braider. I ended up using only four packs of hair so I have enough to do one more set. She loves the results and the length does not look too long given the fact my 9 year old is five feet tall (insane). The thickness of the braids is actually a nice medium sized length so she can still wear different styles. I plan to keep her braids in until the end of this month before allowing her hair to rest in May. So nice to be free from styling for a month! For maintenance I will apply a foam moisturizer by Creme of Nature to her braids weekly. To combat itchiness, I will apply Cantu’s Apple Cider Vinegar Root Relief as needed.