21 Box-Braid Hairstyles That Should Be on Your Protective-Style Vision Board

There are protective styles, and then there's the protective style: box braids. The two are basically synonymous at this point, as box braids are not only protective but also incredibly convenient and can save time when styling your hair in the mornings.

The look has become so popular that it was officially granted space in the dictionary and is defined as: "a triple-stranded braid using the hair from a sectioned-off square on the scalp." Yes, there are in fact levels to being that iconic. "Box braids are braids that are created with human or synthetic hair extensions," the founder of Iman Yvonne Beauty, Alicia Bailey, tells POPSUGAR. "The name refers to the square-shaped partings that are used to attach the extensions in order to create the braids."

From medium box braids to short box braids with curly ends, the variations of box-braid hairstyles are seemingly endless. As much fun as the style is, however, it can cause some damage if you're not careful. "To ensure that box braids are not damaging to the hair, be sure not to have them installed too tightly," Bailey says. "If this happens, it could cause follicular damage and hair loss. This could result in traction alopecia, and depending on the severity of the situation, the hair may not grow back."

That being said, box-braid maintenance is another way to ensure the health of your hair while simultaneously prolonging the style. "Box braids should be maintained by applying scalp oil as needed," Bailey says. Additionally, wearing a satin bonnet to sleep at night will also prevent too much tugging on your hair as you sleep, and applying mousse to the style can help to prevent frizz.

If you're ready for your own box braids, we don't blame you. Get inspiration for everything from long box-braid hairstyles to short box-braid hairstyles ahead.

Types of Box Braids

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Short Box-Braid Bob

One way to jazz up short box braids? Go for bold. The gorgeous pastel shades used for this hairstyle feel like spring in all the best ways.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Short Box Braids With Beads

If you still need some more inspiration for short box-braid hairstyles, allow this hairstyle featuring Y2K beads to convince you to take a trip to the beauty supply store.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Long Box Braids With Colorful Elastics

Large box braids are one of the easiest protective hairstyles to install and remove. Take the look up a notch by adding fun accessories like the colorful elastics seen here.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Medium Box Braids

If you don't want to think too hard about which box-braid hairstyle to get, there's nothing like medium box-braid hairstyles. The ones here are a straightforward black color that feel clean and elegant.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Curly Box Braids

Box braids are actually an extremely versatile hairstyle in terms of styling. You can do everything like buns, ponytails, and even loose waves like the ones seen here.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Space Buns

Another cute way to style your box-braid hairstyle? Space buns. Add tinsel for the perfect festival-season hair.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Large Box Braids With Curly Ends

Take large box braids up a notch with the addition of curly ends for a chic, bohemian feel to the style. You can also try long box braids with beads for an extra fun detail.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Large Box-Braid Pigtails

Speaking of the versatility of box-braid hairstyles, this pigtail hairstyle is equal parts cute and classic. If you're a lover of the outdoors, this style is perfect to keep your hair out of your face while still looking cute.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Large Ombré Box Braids

Box braids can be ombré, too. This hairstyle features medium-size box braids that go from a black to a bleached-blond gradient.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Large Box Braids

Another fun way to play with large box braids actually has nothing to do with the braids at all, but instead the parts. The technique used to part the hair prior to installing box braids can be just as impactful as the braid itself. Prime example? These triangular sections add intrigue without altering the braid at all.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Jumbo Box Braids With Charms

Jumbo box braids can also be adorned with hair jewelry. (Bonus points if they match your everyday jewelry as well).

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Large Box Braids With Charms

While you can also use hair jewelry with different finishes to decorate your jumbo box braids, don't be afraid to shift around the positioning of the charms so it gives an "intentionally scattered" effect.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Long Box Braids

If you want to give your box braids a little extra something but don't know where to start, a subtle color is the way to go. These braids have a brown/red tint that isn't over the top but adds visual interest.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Gemini-Hair Box Braids

The "Gemini" hair trend is going strong, so why not give your box braids a colorful makeover? Opt for colors that offer a bold contrast like the black and red combination seen here, or choose softer, more complementary colors; the choices are endless.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Box Braids With Cornrows

Also known as Fulani braids, this technique combines cornrows and box braids for eye-catching braids that you can style however you see fit.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Jumbo Box Braids

If you struggle with doing your own box-braid hairstyles at home, using elastics to secure the base before you start to braid is an easy hack that will give you a similar look to this jumbo box-braid style.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Gray Box Braids

The best part about box-braid hairstyles is that you can add virtually any hair color you'd like. This gray is a wonderful alternative to black, but you also have the option of neon green, orange, and even yellow. Spoiler alert: they will all look fantastic.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Flipped-Under Box-Braid Bob

A flipped-under bob is one of the most sophisticated hairstyles that can be done on short braids. Opt for the ends of the hair to be tucked under like the style seen here, and you'll be both office- and vacation-ready in an instant.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Long Red Box Braids

Need more colorful box-braid hairstyle ideas? Red is sultry and bold and works perfectly whether you want to tuck away your natural hair color and let the shade shine on its own or blend the two.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Short Goddess Box Braids

It can sometimes feel like the default length for box-braid hairstyles is long, but short braids and medium box-braid styles can look just a beautiful. These short box braids are perfect if you prefer something low maintenance.

Box-Braid Hairstyles: Cornrow Box Braids

Another way to jazz up your box braids is to combine them with cornrows for a gorgeous style that you won't have to worry about upkeep.