If you’re considering getting knotless braids installed, congratulations and welcome to the future—at least that’s what Kamilah—the “Queen of Knotless Braids” who professionally goes by the name Ms. Hair and Humor—thinks. Low tension, simple maintenance, and lightweight manageability make these braids a stand-out protective style, especially for women looking to achieve hair growth instead of damage.
But knotless box braids are more than just a gorgeous way to style natural hair. “It erases years of trauma Black women have experienced getting braid styles,” says Ms. Hair and Humor. “I’ve witnessed first-hand the wave of emotions that come over people while they’re having a knotless braid experience, and I wish more women could understand getting braids doesn’t have to hurt.”
Susan Oludele, salon owner and celebrity braider, agrees. “Box braids and protective styles are meant to protect your hair, not destroy it,” she says, which is why she teaches the knotless technique at the cosmetology school she opened to specifically address the lack of education around Black hair. “With knotless box braids, you don’t have a lot of weight, you don’t have a lot of tension on your scalp, they’re flatter on your head, and they look seamless,” Oludele says.
Ready to try them for yourself? Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about knotless box braids.
What are knotless box braids?
“Knotless box braids are essentially box braids done with a different technique to install them—without the traditional association of pain at the root of the install,” says Ms. Hair and Humor. Unlike with regular box braids, where braiders begin by knotting extensions into your hair tightly at your scalp, knotless braids start with your natural hair and extensions are fed-in as you braid. This keeps your hair, especially your edges, more protected because the braids cause less tension on your hairline and scalp.
Another bonus is that knotless box braids can have a more natural-looking finish. “When you look at knotless box braids, you can’t tell where the hair starts or finishes,” says Oludele. “They’re very seamless from the roots.” You’re also able to begin wearing your hair in whatever various box braid hairstyles you want without discomfort.
How much do knotless box braids cost?
There are a lot of different variables than can affect the price of knotless box braids. The braids themselves can vary in length and thickness, as can the skill and location of your stylist, says Ms. Hair and Humor.
The price can average anywhere from $160 to more than $600—with longer braids with smaller thickness being at the higher end of the price range. For example, at Oludele’s Brooklyn salon, knotless box braids installation starts at $250. If that number looks steep to you, trust us, it’s worth it. “You’re paying for no tension, for the extensions, and how they’re installed,” says Oludele. “All of that comes into perspective for your service.”
How do you care for knotless box braids?
Maintaining your box braids once they’ve been installed is similar to other protective styles. Use a leave-in spray, oils on your scalp, and make sure you tie your hair back at night, advises Oludele. “Even though your hair is intertwined with the extensions, most of your hair is more exposed, so you want to take precaution by tying back your hair,” she says. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase or wearing a silk scarf will also help preserve your hair at night.
How long do knotless box braids last?
Knotless box braids last for between two to three months with in-salon maintenance, according to Oludele who recommends clients come in after one or two months of wearing knotless box braids. “We touch up your edges, here you part your hair because that is the most sensitive part of your hair, cleanse the scalp, and that will last you another month” she explains. That said, Oludele emphasises that length of time varies based on how you care for your hair.
Miss Hair and Humor agrees, stating that “it isn’t about how long braids can last, it’s about the suggested timeframe a client should keep them installed.” She always suggests a time frame of 6-8 weeks maximum because, in her opinion, “the longer the style is in, the longer clients typically neglect their own hair. It’s important to stay on a strict schedule for a protective style and not only use hair as an anchor.” Regardless of how long you keep your knotless box braids in, be sure to not neglect your scalp and handle build up right away.
The best knotless box braids ideas
If you’re looking for the best knotless box braids ideas, Ms. Hair and Humor and Susan Oludele’s Instagrams are a great place to start. Because knotless box braids are so versatile, the sky is kind of the limit here, folks. Other star stylists with active feeds full of inspiration include @creativexhands, @nikkinelms, and @vernonfrancois, but if you want a quick overview of some of our favorite looks, just scroll on down below. You truly can’t go wrong with any of these.
Amber Rambharose is a beauty writer in Philadelphia. Follow her on Instagram @amberdeexterous