Box braids and faux locs are the go-to summer protective styles for Black girls. Box braids have a long history and saw a resurgence in the ’90s after Janet Jackson’s iconic look in Poetic Justice. We’ve see them on the likes of Beyoncé, Zoe Kravitz, Jhené Aiko, and so many others. Similarly, faux locs have been seen on the likes of Rihanna, Ciara, and Zendaya.
There are so many benefits to protective styling, the most compelling being you don’t have to worry about doing your regular hair routine for at least a month. Switching up your ‘do for the day is also a great way to keep your box braids and faux locs looking fresh well past the first week. Don’t just take my word for it, take it from these celebs who have rocked these styles in a variety of ways everywhere from the red carpet to magazine spreads to Instagram. There’s a plethora of options to choose from, and I’ve narrowed it down to a few striking celebrity-approved looks. Be prepared to get inspired and be your most beautiful self this summer.
Some Up, Some Down
For when you can’t decide if you want it up or down. For Zendaya’s look, simply part the hair to one side, then take a handful of locs from both sides and tie them in back.
You may remember the infamous remark by Giuliana Rancic at the 2015 Oscars about Zendaya’s locs that sparked a much-needed conversation on the negative stereotypes associated with Black hair. Zendaya handled it with immense class and shut down the nonsense like a pro, writing how she wore them with pride to showcase the beauty of Black hair. She went on to say, “To me locs are a symbol of strength and beauty, almost like a lion’s mane.” Words to remember next time you rock this empowering look.
Half Up with Pigtails
It’s a playful take on the half-up, half-down look. To get singer and beauty enthusiast Symphani Soto’s look, take the front section of your braids and tie into two pigtails, leaving two face-framing pieces and the back down. Then wrap a part of the braids around each pigtail to hide the hair ties—a super cute and whimsical look for the girly girl.
A classic style elevated with face-framing strands. Logan Browning does it so well with these jumbo braids by freelance hair artist @braidedbytee and made sure those baby hairs were laid.
The top knot is a super simple style for those days you don’t want to do anything too elaborate but still want to look polished. Either gather all your locs and tie or do a half-up, half-down style like Jhené Aiko to show your gorgeous face.
This double bun style is out of this world! Go for a boho vibe like Ciara by not fully wrapping your locs into the bun and leaving some strands free.
An edgy spin on the bun updo. Divide your hair into three section and twist up into buns going down the back of the head like Marsai Martin’s style.
Rather than just leaving your locs down, sweep your gorgeous mane to the side. You can do an updo and leave a couple strands to tuck behind your ear for a romantic side bang. Or create a deep part and push them to the side like actress and model Eva Marcille.
The center part is a classic. Model your look after Beyoncé’s waist-length tresses styled by her longtime hairstylist and self-proclaimed “style legend” Neal Farinah for a sophisticated look.
Of course, Chloe x Halle have authentic locs, but Halle’s style is still inspirational. To achieve Halle’s look, part your locs into three sections and braid in a cornrow style. This is probably the most intricate of all the hairstyles mentioned, so make time to accomplish your ideal look. For an easier alternative, section your hair and braid with several strands to create a head of thick plaited locs.
Box Bob with Frayed Ends
Box braids don’t have to be long; short looks need love too! Take it from Amandla Stenberg and her hair artist Lacy Redway and go for a jumbo braid, cut them short, and neatly fray the ends for a little pizzazz. It’s ever-so chic, easy to manage, and perfect for those sweltering summer days.
Meagan Good is the unofficial queen of goddess locs. In 2015, natural hair expert and hairstylist Dr. Kari Williams created the look for Good as homage to Lisa Bonet, marking the first faux locs created with a loose wavy end. The look is now named goddess locs, and the rest is history!
Boho Box Braids
Think of this style as having the best of both worlds: you get the look of box braids with the wavy ends of goddess locs. Undoubtedly, Zoe Kravitz does this partially braided look the best because she has the cool, laid back attitude to match. We have celebrity hairstylist Nikki Nelms, who’s been with Kravitz since 2013, to thank for giving us this gorgeous ‘do. This style is meant to look less polished and more free-spirited for the carefree Black girl in all of us.
Add Some Color
Who says braids or locs have to be your natural color? There is an endless amount of shades from deep burgundy to ash blonde. For the truly daring among us who like to experiment, try a beautiful rainbow of colors like those seen on Amandla Stenberg styled by celebrity hairstylist Vernon François. It’s flashy, whimsical, and guaranteed to turn heads!
For a regal appearance, knot a headwrap around your braids or locs in a tiara-like fashion, like in this stunning photo of Issa Rae for Essence magazine. There are so many more ways to tie a head wrap for sophisticated and effortlessly chic looks. Just fall down the rabbit hole of step-by-step YouTube tutorials like this one; you’ll be glad you did.
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