Do Box Braids Ruin Your Hair? ANSWERED!

If you’re looking for a stylish and effortless protective style to try, then chances are you’ve considered box braids. Box braids can definitely help strengthen and grow your natural hair, but could they also cause harm?

Box braids can ruin your hair if they are braided too tightly, left in for longer than 6 -8 weeks, and if you don’t take care of your natural hair under your braids by washing and moisturizing it. If you consider these factors, your box braids will not damage your hair but will instead serve as a great protective style aiding in hair growth.

To find out exactly how to prevent your box braids from ruing your natural hair with step-by-step instructions. Plus, product recommendations; keep reading to find out, and you’ll be well on your way to rocking your box braids without ruing your natural hair!

How To Avoid Ruining Your Hair With Box Braids

Ruining or damaging your hair whilst wearing box braids is an avoidable thing if you take the necessary precautions. If you’d like to learn how to make your box braids benefit your hair as a protective style should keep reading!

To avoid ruining your hair with box braids, moisturize it with conditioners and hair oils as dry hair causes damage and breakage. To moisturize your hair, use a rinse-out conditioner on wash days and use a leave-in conditioner and natural hair oils 2-3 days a week to ensure you’re not only bringing in moisture but you’re also locking it in.

Keep reading to learn exactly how to moisturize your hair with conditioners and hair oils and also how to wash your hair whilst it’s braided. Trust me; you don’t want to miss this!

1. Moisturize your hair

The best thing that you can for your natural hair whilst it is in any protective style, including box braids, is to ensure that your hair is retaining moisture. By doing so, you will not only reduce braid-related shedding and hair damage, but you’ll also strengthen your hair and help it grow.

Rinse-out Conditioners: To bring moisture into your hair or help your hair absorb moisture from the environment, incorporate a conditioning routine when washing your hair. A moisturizing rinse-out conditioner will help to restore any moisture that was stripped from your hair during shampooing. 

Leave-in Conditioners: In addition to that, apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair at least 2-3 times a week to bring moisture to your hair and scalp. Since your hair will be braided in box braids, you will need to use a leave-in conditioning spray.

To apply it to your hair:

  • Section off your hair into 4 equal sections and work with one section at a time
  • Spray your leave-in conditioning spray on your scalp and use the pads of your fingertips to rub it in
  • You can also spray some on the length of your braids

A great leave-in conditioner to try with box braids is the Honest Company’s Sweet Orange Vanilla leave-in conditioning spray. It’s also great for detangling hair and is made from natural oils such as shea butter, argan oil, and jojoba protein, which are perfect for strengthening hair. You can buy this product from Amazon for only $5.99.

Moisturizing Hair Oils: The final step is to apply a hair moisturizer in the form of hair oils after applying your leave-in conditioner to lock or seal in the moisture that has been restored by the conditioner as environmental factors can strip your hair of moisture without you even knowing.

You should always stick to hair oils made from natural oils as they will cause less build-up on your hair. 

To apply hair oil to your hair:

  • Section off your hair into 4 equal sections and work with one section at a time
  • Apply 2-3 drops of your hair oil to your scalp only and use the pads of your fingertips to rub it in
  • Do not apply the product directly to your braids

A great moisturizing hair oil is the Design Essentials Scalp & Skin Care Tea-Tree oil; not only does this product moisturize your hair, but it also has anti-itch and soothing properties as it contains tea-tree oil and aloe vera, so your scalp will always feel fresh. You can buy this hair oil from Amazon for only $8.99.

2. Wash your hair

How To Wash Your Hair With Box Braids

A clean scalp and hair is actually the foundation of any protective style, including box braids. A clean scalp responds to hair products much better and will, therefore, allow you to see the benefits of the protective style you choose, those benefits being healthy hair growth.

Box braids can cause a quicker build-up of oil, dirt, and dust on your scalp and hair, so make that you wash your hair at least once a week or more if you have an active lifestyle.

Only use gentle, alcohol-free, and sulfate-free shampoos to wash your hair whilst you have box braids as this will prevent your hair from losing its natural oils and drying out too much.

To wash your hair with box braids:

  • Wet your hair completely under the shower with cool or lukewarm water
  • Mix 2 parts shampoo with 1 part water in a spray bottle
  • Section your hair into 4 equal parts, so you work with one section at a time
  • Spray the shampoo mixture on your scalp, in between the braids, and gently rub it in with the pads of your fingertips to create a lather 
  • Once you’ve done your whole head, step under the shower again and let the water rinse out the shampoo
  • Mix 2 parts rinse-out conditioner with 1 part water in a spray bottle and repeat the above process
  • Once you’ve rinsed-out your conditioner, dab your hair dry with a microfiber towel
  • Then let your hair air dry naturally before apply your hair oils

Pro Tip: If you’re in-between wash days and your hair is itchy or feels dirty, you can use an anti-itch braid spray such as the Jamaican Mango No More Itch Gro Spray from Amazon for only $4.36 as washing your braids too often can shorten their lifespan. You can spray this braid spray on your scalp and braids.

3. Wrap your hair

Before Bed: Always wear a satin bonnet or silk headscarf to bed to cover your box braids. This will prevent your braids from rubbing against your pillow, thus causing friction that not only drys out your hair but also prompts frizzing and split-ends.

You can also switch out your cotton pillowcase for a silk one for added measure.

Before Showering/Swimming: When showering or going for a swim, if you’re unable to avoid getting your box braids wet, then I recommend that you wear a waterproof shower cap or swimming cap. Unnecessary wetting your box braids will shorten their lifespan and also cause frizzing.

Not to mention that chemicals in chlorinated pools or salt in seawater will definitely cause your braids to become tangled and your natural hair to become dry and brittle, which could lead to hair damage.


Hey, I’m Jodie, the gal behind CraftyHairHacks. I have a deep passion for hair extensions, hairstyles, and almost anything that has to do with hair, which leads me to the writing and research I do for this website daily. Our site is still small, however, we’re pushing to get the best hair hacks out to as many as people as possible. ENJOY!

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