K. Lanier Lewid / EyeEm
If you're looking for a protective style to give your natural hair a break, box braids are a great solution. Brandy has been rocking them since her days of playing Moesha on the hit UPN series - and they are still her go-to style. Mary J. Blige turned up the heat with her blonde box braids last summer, and Rihanna made her jumbo box braids 'work, work, work' back in October as she showed off some Fenty Beauty products.
With so much versatility, it's easy to see why celebrities love this timeless style.
"You can style box braids in so many ways and they are suitable for different occasions," says Tamara Albertini, holistic master braider and founder of Ancestral Strands. "You can wear them to work, out on the town, or even in a beautiful updo for a wedding."
There's a whole world of fabulous box braid styles to be explored, and with the country opening back up, there is no better time to try something new.
Below, we asked a few master braiders to share some box braid styles that will get you tons of compliments this summer.
Ombré Box Braids
Ombré styles aren't exclusively for loose hair, they can look great on braids too. These bold pink ends are a fun way to add color. "This style is very edgy, making it prefect for the coming summer months," says Albertini. "My clients always tell me what style and hair color they want. This client just said, 'Hey, I would like ombré pink ends,' and my answer was, 'You got it! Let's do it!'"
Highlight Box Braids
If you've been thinking about adding color to your box braids, but you're not sure if you want to take the plunge, highlights are a great way to test out a few colored braids without making a full commitment. "It's always fun to add highlights," says Pearl Ransome, master braider and founder of Pearl The Stylist Studio. These green extensions are a bold color which the client wore with confidence."
Triangular Part Box Braids
Box braids are typically characterized by box partings on the scalp, hence the name. However, there's no rule that says you can't change the partings every once in a while. For this look, Albertini adds her own spin on the traditional style by incorporating triangular parts. "One thing I love about braids is the number of styles you can do, and how you can tweak popular styles," says the stylist. "For this look, my client said she wanted triangular parts. Sometimes it's not only my brain working to add spice to the braid styles. My clients contribute to the creative process as well."
Colored Elastic Box Braids
The color you add to your braids doesn't always have to come from hair extensions. Hair accessories are another way to jazz up box braids for the summer. For this look, Ransome used colored elastic bands to add peeps of color throughout the hair.
VIDEO: Tracee Ellis Ross's Chunky Butt-Length Braids Are the Perfect Summer Style
Beaded Box Braids
Give your braids an old school '80s vibe by stacking beads at the ends. Whether you choose to go with wooden beads, multicolored beads, or simple clear plastic, this look is a must for any summer festival - just imagine how your hair will jingle as you throw your hands up in the air to the beat of the music.
Fluorescent Box Braids
If you want a summer style that will make you stand out in a crowd, look no further. "Fluorescent box braids are trending right now and are perfect for clients who want something different," says Marlisha Lofton, master braider and hair extension specialist. For this style, Lofton used the knotless braiding technique which gives the braids more flexibility and creates less tension on the scalp.
Box Braid Bun
Putting your box braids up in a bun is an easy way to create a glamorous look for a special occasion. Wrap the braids around the bun for a soft, elegant look.
Boho Box Braid Bob
Why have straight or curly braids, when you can have both? This box braid curly bob is a great playful style for summer and the length makes it easy to maintain. "Curls allow me to be more creative while styling and they add volume to this look," says Ransome.
Jumbo Box Braids
Although medium-sized box braids look fabulous, it's completely understandable if you don't want to sit still for five hours braiding your hair. Jumbo box braids often take less than half the time to install and you still get a sleek summer look with just as much versatility.
Bohemian Box Braids
These bohemian box braids showcase a mix of curly and straight braids and provide an effortless-chic vibe. "The long braids with flowing body waves are great for hanging out at the beach or lounging by the pool," says Lofton. "This is a great protective style. You can nourish your hair and scalp with all the essential oils it needs without weighing down the hair, because you can't see the oil on the braid extensions like you can with natural hair."