Looking to refresh your style? Box braids were incredibly popular in the 90s, and just like scrunchies, velour tracksuits, and frosty blue eyeshadow, they've made a comeback. Small sections of hair are braided individually and organized into squares, or "boxes," all over the head. The low-maintenance, versatile style allows hair to grow naturally and keeps it protected. Braids can vary greatly in thickness and length but are often worn quite long, largely influenced by celebrities including Jada Pinkett Smith and Alicia Keys. They can be worn up or down and styled in any number of ways.

Ultra-thick twists

This box braid style is traditional yet has a modern flair. The individual braids are actually twists, which resemble traditional dreadlocks and give off a natural vibe. You should aim to pick a braid style that works well with your natural hair's texture and condition. For thicker hair, it makes more sense to choose thicker braids, which are heavier but are supported by larger sections of hair.

A woman with long and very thick box braids Delmaine Donson / Getty Images


A touch of shine

Adding just a few strands of contrasting color throughout the hair is a great way to add an interesting dimension to box braids. Try metallic gold or bronze for a bit of subtle shimmer. The added color makes even simple styles more striking. Try making one or two large braids out of the box braids or twist hair into a simple half-crown. Make sure to use individual colored braids to best showcase the style.

A woman with black and bronze box braids styling a child's hair Marilyn Nieves / Getty Images


Piled high

Pile your braids on top of your head in an elegant updo for a look that's somehow understated and dramatic at the same time. The contrast between the braids' thickness toward the root and the ends of the hair adds dimension and volume, making it anything but an ordinary bun. This is a great styling option any time of the year, but especially for warmer weather and when you'll be swimming. Just throw it up and go!

A woman with all of her braids arranged into an updo PeopleImages / Getty Images


Mermaid color

If you're looking for a look just for summer and festival season, consider choosing brightly-colored box braids. The sky's the limit when it comes to picking a color, so get creative! Don't think you have to limit yourself to just one color, or even two. While complementary colors like pink and purple look great together, there's nothing that says you can't wear several shades at once.

Two women laughing together, one with pink and purple braids Rawpixel / Getty Images


Loose, natural ends

There's nothing that says box braids have to go from the roots to the very ends of the hair. Braiding only the top length of hair and letting the ends be loose and natural is an interesting twist on the box braid style. If you're rocking the loose ends look, consider putting your hair up in a high pony for a playful, flirty look, or leaving it down for a boho vibe.

A woman and female child, both with box braids karelnoppe / Getty Images



Box braids don't have any hard and fast rules, so they can vary in length. This is a great way to add texture and dimension to the style. In this simple yet stylish look, a section of the hair is pulled up and back, away from the face. It's not as formal as a true updo, but more elevated than just leaving it down. Consider adding a clip to make a bigger statement.

A woman with half-up box braids playfully sticking out her tongue PeopleImages / Getty Images


A braided bob

It's true that it's more common to see long box braids, but there are definitely exceptions to that. One of the best things about box braids is their versatility. Shorter hair lengths, such as a chin- or shoulder-length bobs, also look great with box braids. Having shorter locks may make them even lower maintenance, plus they can still be styled creatively.

A smiling woman with chin-length box braids PeopleImages / Getty Images


Braided braids

Another great thing about box braids is that the individual braids function just like individual strands of hair. This means that you can style box braids in many of the same ways that you would style your hair without them. For a modern pulled-together look, pull all of your box braids back into a larger chunky braid, such as a French or fishtail braid.

A smiling woman outdoors with her box braids braided kali9 / Getty Images


A sleek pony

Is there any hairstyle easier or more classic than a simple ponytail? This style is understated, sleek, and versatile enough to work for any occasion. Heading to work? Going on a date? Have a class at the gym? A pony works for all of these occasions. Whether you choose to wear your pony low or high on the head, this style looks especially great with box braids. It adds so much volume and dimension.

A female with her braids pulled back into a ponytail NeonShot / Getty Images


Box braids for guys

A guide to box braids wouldn't be complete without a shout-out to the guys. This versatile style certainly isn't reserved for just women. Men can wear box braids, and all the same rules apply – there aren't any! While men may choose to keep their styles a little more simplistic than the ladies, there's no reason you can't incorporate some color or even earthy accents threaded throughout the braids.

A man in silver box braids accented with brown thread CarlosDavid.org / Getty Images


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