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Our guide to knotless box braids

Here’s everything you need to know about knotless box braids, including what makes them different and all the pros and cons of having them vs traditional box braids.

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From celebrities including Mocheddah and Toke Makinwa, and influencers like Afua Osei and Nonye of ThisThingCalledFashionn, the chances are, knotless braids have appeared on your Instagram feed countless times. The hype is real ladies! Knotless braids are not just in, they’re it, and we answer all your questions on the go to hairstyle for women.

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Knotless box braids, also called feed-in, are another variation of box braids. The difference is that, unlike box braids, these don't include the small knot that sits at the root of the scalp. The knotless method starts with your natural hair and gradually adds pieces of hair to the braid as you go.

There are many advantages to knotless box braids, however, there are also a couple of disadvantages. Here are the most important pros and cons to help you decide whether the knotless box braid option is the right choice for you.

  • One of the issues with traditional box braids is that they are painful when you first get them done. Since knotless box braids are more gentle on the scalp, they are painless!
  • When done correctly, there’s no breakage. When installing knotless braids there is less tugging on your hair, and without knots, there is less friction. This dramatically reduces the chances of complications such as traction alopecia.
  • They take longer to install. While the exact timings vary depending on your stylist, expect to be in your chair for 4-8 hours for box braids in general, with knotless braids being at the longer end of the timescale. As a rule, knotless braids take longer than a similar style would with traditional box braids.
  • There’s a lot of variation from one braided style to the next. Smaller braids take longer to install so are more expensive for example. A rule is that, because knotless box braids take longer to complete, they cost more than a similar style with knots. However, with all of the pros, they are more than worth it.

Knotless box braids cause less damage than other types of braids, but like all braids, leaving them in too long can cause damage. It is advised to take braids out after a maximum of six weeks. Knotless box braids last roughly the same length of time as traditional box braids, at around four to six weeks maximum, dependent on how well you care for them.

The maintenance of knotless box braids is the same as for other types of braids. You need to keep them well moisturised and cleanse in a way that refreshes your scalp and braids, but does not overly disturb the braids and reduce the longevity of your style.

Moisturise your braids with a leave-in conditioner two-three times a week. A spritz applicator is particularly handy to evenly distribute the product, and look for ingredients such as shea butter and argan oil. To maintain moisture levels wrap your braids in a silk scarf overnight.

The simple answer is yes. Here’s how to wash your braids while maintaining their longevity:

Wash your braids every 1-2 weeks with a clarifying shampoo to make sure that you adequately cleanse away product build up and dirt.

  1. Wash your braids and scalp without rubbing the braids aggressively. Instead, concentrate on moving your hands in an upward and downward motion from scalp to ends, to prevent any unnecessary disturbance to the braids, which will cause frizzing. 
  2. Then, a small amount of conditioner should be applied to the ends braids that were created with human hair extensions. Those with synthetic hair extensions can skip conditioner. 
  3. Next, hot oil treatments are also a great way of revitalising your scalp after washing, and they should be applied immediately after cleansing. 
  4. Finally, apply your regular daily hair hydrator.

The knotless method starts with your natural hair and gradually adds pieces of hair to the braid as you go. This creates less tension on the scalp and reduces the chance of hair breakage.

The knotless box braids usually last for about four to six weeks depending mostly on how you care for them.

Always dry your braids before styling since damp braids can lead to fungus and dandruff issues. This is especially important if you are opting for an updo, so make sure braids are completely dry before tying them up. The best way to dry your freshly washed and conditioned braids is to sit under a hooded dryer for at least 30 minutes.

As an alternative to washing, astringent products can be used to cleanse the scalp and remove excess product build up. Popular astringents with braiders include witch hazel and apple cider vinegar. Your chosen astringent can be used once a week or instead of every other wash to help maintain clean and long lasting braids.

Getting knotless box braids at the salon can take a lot of time and money, while there is the option to do knotless box braids yourself.

Beauty YouTuber, Ronke Raji shared a detailed step on how to make knotless box braids in her video. The steps are beginner friendly so you can learn them with ease.

Here are some knotless box braid looks to help you choose your next style:

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