7 Bright Ideas For Colorful Box Braids

Plus, how to care for them.

by Hilary Shepherd
Originally Published: 
From honey blonde to red and black, here are ways to wear box braids with color.

When it comes to box braids, the styling options are truly endless. You can switch up the braiding pattern or even add accessories if you really want to get creative. Wearing box braids with color also makes for long, cascading plaits that are as stunning as they are long-lasting and protective.

Janet Jackson and Brandy’s braided styles were iconic in the ’90s. And with celebs like Storm Reid, Keke Palmer, and Zendaya rocking the go-to protective style in recent days, there’s no shortage of inspiration. “Box braids are so popular right now,” Monaè Everett, Texture Style Awards creator and hairstylist to stars like Brittany Howard and Laya DeLeon Hayes, tells Bustle. “Over the years, box braids have become more and more elaborate with both the patterns and colors. Gone are the days of only having dark brown or black braids.”

Experimenting with fun shades like purple, blue, and green is an easy way to zhoosh up braids, adds Robin Groover, Curl Rehab ambassador and professional hairstylist. “[And] a great combination is copper and golden blonde with the dark roots.” In terms of styles, Groover suggests playing with different braid sizes or even adding loose curls for a wispy look. “Box braid hair jewelry is popping, too,” she says.

Using colorful braiding hair is a great, low-maintenance way to experiment with a new hue (box braids can last from six to ten weeks ), but caring for your hair is essential. According to Kayleena Johnson, braid stylist at BEAUTYBEEZ, “taking care of your scalp is crucial when you have box braids. Your scalp is more exposed than usual, so make sure you’re keeping it moisturized and protected.” (She recommends using a conditioning treatment like Naturally Drenched Rebalance Treatment or a silk turban to protect locks from frizz and bedhead.) Another tip for keeping your box braids looking healthy? “Make sure you dip the braids in hot water after styling has been completed,” says Darling ambassador Xia Charles, a braiding expert who works with Beyoncé.

While box braids are totally DIY-able (just note that it might take several hours), visiting a professional hairstylist — or better yet, a braiding specialist — is always a good idea. Before you book an appointment, consider the many, many ways to rock box braids with color. As evidenced by the below list of fun examples, you’ll have a hard time picking just one.


Burgundy & Brown Box Braids

Johnson touts the rich — and very fall-friendly — combo of deep red or burgundy with a natural brown color. “I love these shades together, especially for fall,” she says. “It’s a sophisticated way to liven up your braids without being too vibrant.”


Mermaid Pastels

For a spring-friendly look — or a “mid-winter pick-me-up” — Johnson points to pastels like baby blue and light pink. This mermaid combo looks especially dreamy when extensions are used and the hair is blended or given an ombré effect, adds Everett.


Honey Blonde Highlights

Incorporating honey blonde or golden hues throughout your box braids is a good look if you don’t want to commit to one color, says Johnson. “You can still experiment with color with just a few different golden tones, which will add dimension and change up your look.”


Natural Red Ombré

If you’re nervous about adding dramatic color to your braids, or just want to keep your hair color in a more natural range, Everett recommends going for a classic (and popular) blended combo of reddish brown and dark brown extensions. “I’m a huge fan of the color mix 1b/30,” she adds.


Midnight Purple & Blue

A moody mix of dark purple and dark blue (or either hue on its own) makes for a “subtle yet fun pop of color,” says Charles, “especially when they hit the sunlight.”


Blonde Ombré Box Braids

Black (or dark brown) and blonde — either in an ombré effect or as a Beyoncé-style mix of light and dark — looks great on any skin tone, says Charles. She recommends combining Darling extensions in the shades #1/27 and #27 if you’re in need of precise color inspo.

For those who prefer a warmer color combo, Everett suggests going for the darkest brown at the root, light reddish brown at the mid-shaft, and golden blonde at the ends. If you prefer a cool-toned color mix, consider going platinum or pale blonde at the tips. Regardless of how you mix the the shades, blonde is a winning addition to box braids.


Silver & Black Box Braids

“[Metallic silver] is so in right now — and rightfully so,” says Johnson. The pro especially loves when black and silver combine into an ombré look. “It looks good on virtually anyone.”

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