How to Box Braid Your Own Hair Without Extensions

It’s no secret that box braids are a timeless, trendy protective hairstyle. Yet, a lot of people think they have to have extensions in order to get this look. What they don’t know is that you can achieve box braids sans extensions. But how?

Applying box braids without hair extensions is easier than you might think. With some good leave-in conditioner, oil, and a whole lot of patience, you can turn your natural mane into a beautiful set of box braids (in any size, I might add!).

Wondering how to box-braid your own hair without extensions? Then keep reading. I’m sharing how to successfully box-braid your own hair – at home – without ever needing to buy hair extensions to help you along the way.

Get your comb and your favorite products, and let’s get stylin’!

How to Box Braid Your Own Hair Without Extensions in 5 Steps

No, I’m not pulling your leg – you can actually box-braid your own hair without extensions in just five steps! Here’s how to do it.

1. Wash and Condition Your Hair

You always want to start with a fresh head of hair.

That said, the first step in the box-braid process is to wash and heavily conditioner your hair. Make sure you’re using a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. Follow up with a heavy-duty leave-in conditioner to keep your natural hair in tip-top shape.

2. Section Off Your Hair

The next step is to section off your hair. This process is made much simpler with the end of a rat tail comb. So, if you don’t have one already, get one.

Right now is the time to decide how small or large you want your box braid. Keep in mind that the smaller the braid, the more time-consuming it will be to finish your plaits. However, micro box braids are so gorgeous – they’re worth every second!

You can use clips, hair ties, or whatever you’d like to keep your hair portioned off.

3. Start Braiding!

Now that your hair is sectioned off exactly how you’d like it, it’s time for the fun part – braiding!

It’s highly recommended to use a curl custard like this one from Aunt Jackie’s. Not only will it help to define the shape of your delightful box braids, but it will keep them moisturized and frizz-free for an extended period. Win-win situation here, girls.

Massage the curl custard into the section of hair you’re working with. Then, starting as close to the root as you possibly (and comfortably) can, start plaiting three strands of hair. Twirl the end, so it doesn’t unravel.

4. Continue Until All Hair is Braided

Continue plaiting the remaining sections of hair. Follow the same steps as above: thoroughly apply the curl custard, plait the hair using three strands, and twirl the ends to keep them from unraveling.

Are you more of a visual person? Then here’s a great video to watch. I love how she explains how she’s box braiding her hair without extensions (and her hair is incredible!):

5. Add Beads, if Desired

Some women enjoy adding beads to their box braids. Sound like you? Then now’s the time to do it!

If this is your first time adding beads to your hair, you’ll need a beader tool. Then, you can follow these quick steps to bedazzle your box braids:

  • Place the end of your box braid into the large loop on the beader tool
  • Wrap it around to make a circle around the loop of the beader tool
  • Hold the hair together and slide a bead onto the end of the beader tool
  • Slide the bead over the beader tool onto your box braid
  • Release the beader tool
  • Use a small rubber band to tie the bead onto the end of your box braid

6. Maintain the Box Braids

Box braids can easily last for up to eight weeks when they’re correctly cared for. Here’s a quick rundown on how to properly maintain your box braids:

  • Regularly moisturize. Keeping your scalp and hair moisturized is vital (whether you have box braids or not!). Using a moisturizing braid spray is the easiest way to go.
  • Wash when necessary. While you don’t need to wash your box braids too often, keeping them clean is essential, especially if you notice any product buildup or grime. Use a spray bottle with water and shampoo for the best results.
  • Wrap at night. Don’t let your box braids fend for themselves while you slumber. Wrap them up into a satin or silk scarf, bonnet, or other preferred product to keep them safe while you sleep.
  • Ditch tight styles. While a tight ponytail or bun is a-okay, overdoing it can cause strife for your box braids. Stick to looser hairstyles 90% of the time.


Now you’re ready to plait your own box braids at home and walk out in style, queen! But before you go plaiting your mane, take a peek at these frequently asked questions. You might find them helpful!

Can you do box braids without hair extensions?

Although we can’t deny how awesome box braids look with extensions (especially if it’s zhuzhed up with some colorful extensions), it’s 100% unnecessary. If your natural hair is long enough to plait, you can successfully do box braids without hair extensions.

How long does your hair have to be to get box braids without extensions?

While longer hair will be easier to work with, you can get by doing box braids without extensions with as little as two inches of hair. So, don’t think you have to grow your hair out extensively before trying to box-braid your own hair without extensions!

Will box braids grow your hair?

Box braids do not automatically equate to hair growth. However, they can assist with hair growth in two ways. For one, they can help you retain your hair length. Secondly, it’s a protective style, which means your natural strands will be protected from the elements – which can equate to accelerated growth.

Who Knew It Was So Easy to Box Braid Your Own Hair Without Extensions?

There you have it, girls! You can successfully box-braid your own hair without the need for hair extensions. All you need is a rat tail comb, some great products, and the patience to make your box braid dreams come true – and you can even do it on shorter hair lengths!

Have you ever done box braids without hair extensions? Do you have tips you’d like to share with other readers? Do you prefer box braids with or without extensions? Share below!

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