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Will Box Braids Damage Caucasian Hair? Are They Good or Bad?

Young woman with thin caucasian hair wearing braiding hair extensions

In the past, box braids were only worn by black women, but times have changed. Nowadays, you’ll see women of all races wearing the style, including Caucasians.

A common concern among Caucasian women is, “Will box braids damage Caucasian hair?”. Opinions differ on the subject, so many ladies are unsure.

If you are considering box braids but are worried they’ll ruin your hair, this article is for you. We will take a deep dive into this topic and reveal everything you need to know about the possibility of damaged hair from box braids.

Will Box Braids Damage Caucasian Hair?

Box braids can damage Caucasian hair, just like they can damage any other type of hair. The braids require you or a stylist to braid extension hair with your natural hair using tension (to ensure the braids won’t slip or unravel).

When too much tension is used during the braiding process, your chances of experiencing damage go way up. The most common type of damage associated with box braids is major hair loss.

When the braids are done too tightly, they literally pull your hair out at the roots. The damage is not usually immediate, but it happens over time. Some signs that your box braids may pull your hair out include scalp redness, soreness, and bumps. 

Cute white girl standing near the beach wearing braids on her own hair

Reasons You Shouldn’t Get Box Braids

Though many white people have straight hair and most black people have curly hair, this has no bearing on whether your hair can tolerate box braids. But there are other hair characteristics that actually do make a difference in your damage risk.

You are more likely to experience damage from box braids if your hair is fragile in any way. Here are some signs that your hair may be too delicate for box braids: 

  • Your hair is naturally fine. Fine hair is thinner than average and doesn’t take much to break. To check whether your hair is fine, take a strand of your hair and rub it between your thumb and index finger. If you can’t feel your hair strand between your fingers, you have fine hair. 
  • Your hair is color-treated or bleached. Color-treated and bleached hair is more fragile than virgin hair because the chemicals that alter your hair color damage your hair shaft in the process. Once your hair has been compromised with chemicals, it becomes weaker and prone to breakage. 
  • You are losing your hair. If you are losing your hair, it’s not a good time to try box braids. The style may exacerbate the issue.
White lady with thin natural hair whilst trying not to get her thinner box braids wet at the beach

You Can Try Box Braids Without Damage

Just because there’s a risk of damage doesn’t mean you’ll end up with ruined hair if you try box braids. After all, many people wear box braids regularly and enjoy healthy hair. So, here we’d like to share with you some ways to prevent damage from box braids. 

Examine Your Hair First

Take a few minutes and look at your hair up close. Be on the lookout for tangible roughness along the hair shaft and split ends. If your hair shows any signs of damage, you would be better off with a different style. 

Choose A Reputable Stylist 

Some stylists only care about how the braids look and neglect the health of your hair. Others simply don’t have the knowledge necessary to preserve the integrity of your strands.

So, it’s best to do your research and seek out a stylist who has experience braiding Caucasian hair. 

Before you get your box braids installed, have a serious talk with your stylist about any concerns you may have. You should be sure to mention that you don’t want your braids to be too tight.

In addition, it’s a good idea not to add too much extension hair to a single section. Small sections with large braids are much more likely to cause damage than small sections with small braids or large sections with large braids.

If your stylist listens to you and keeps these things in mind, your braids shouldn’t end up so heavy that they constantly tug on your roots. 

A white lady sitting on the beach with her hair braided in thick braids

Know When to Take the Braids Out

5 Ways To Loosen Tight/Sore Braids for Relief| 2019

Sometimes, even after talking to your stylist beforehand, you still could end up with braids that are too tight. If that turns out to be the case, take your braids down.

You will find YouTube videos explaining how to loosen up tight braids, but even after you try those methods, your hair may still be too tight. The longer you leave tight braids installed, the higher your risk of hair loss and traction alopecia. 

Another way to prevent damage from box braids is to take them down if they are heavy. Your braids may be too heavy if you notice neck pain or you find yourself struggling to hold your head up. 

No Ponytails for a While

Right after getting your box braids done, you should wear them down without restyling them. Putting your braids into a ponytail right away will increase the amount of tension placed on your scalp.

You may get tired of wearing the braids down and loose, but you’ll be able to wear them in updos once your natural hair grows out a bit and the braids aren’t flush to your scalp. 

Take Them Out On Time And Carefully

Box braids should be removed after 6 to 8 weeks. If you leave them in for longer than that, oils and debris could build up at the roots of your hair. You could also experience thinning at the roots.

In addition to taking the braids out on time, you should take your time unraveling them: don’t use your fingernails to undo the braids, try not to tug on the braids as you unravel them, and use a detangler and water to comb through your hair after the braids are out.

If you take these precautions, the chances of your hair becoming damaged from box braids will be significantly reduced. 

White female rocking caucasian box braids while wearing sunglasses and giving a peace sign

Benefits of Box Braids for Caucasian Natural Hair

Now you know that box braids are not off-limits for white hair, so let’s get into some of the benefits you can expect should you give box braids a try. 

  • They give you a break from your hair. If you’ve grown tired of frequently washing and styling your hair, box braids will give you a long break. With box braids, you won’t have to worry about exactly what you’re going to do with your hair daily.
  • They protect your hair from manipulation and the outside elements. When your hair is braided, it’s protected from wind, sun damage, and other elements that could damage it. You also won’t be able to access your hair without taking down your braids, so breakage from over-styling will be prevented. This leads to increased length retention. If you have damaged hair, the key is not to make damaged hair worse.
  • They are low maintenance. The most you’ll need to do with your box braids is cover them up at night with a silk or satin bonnet and wash them if you notice buildup accumulating at your roots. 
  • They are versatile. Box braids are one of the most versatile protective styles. You can put them into an updo, space buns, low bun, high ponytail, or virtually any other style you can think of. 

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Box braids are a popular hairstyle for people of all hair types; however, it’s traditionally been a common style within the African American community.

If you’ve ever had box braids done before or seen someone else with box braids, then you know that they can damage your natural hair, especially if the style will involve hair extensions.

While it’s a great protective style, it’s critical to ensure that you keep your natural hair healthy and don’t let box braids ruin your hair.

When it comes to braiding your hair, you have a lot of options.

However, if you are getting box braids for the first time, make sure that they are done by someone who knows what they’re doing and can help you avoid any damage to your natural hair or scalp.

The key is to find a stylist who understands the techniques and tension (i.e., how to create a neat and firm braid) needed during the process so that you don’t wind up with bald patches in your head from too much tugging on your scalp.

Hopefully, this article has eased any anxiety or uncertainty you may have had about trying box braids on Caucasian hair.

Our goal is to help you keep your natural hair healthy and give you the confidence to try box braids immediately.

If your hair is reasonably healthy and you don’t mind taking the precautions mentioned earlier in this article, feel free to try out this iconic protective style.