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Boho Braids: The Season’s Most Popular Protective Style

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NYU chapter.

We’re all familiar with box braids, but what about their effortlessly messy-chic cousin, boho braids?

If you’ve been out and about on campus lately, you’ve probably seen your fair share of Black girls rocking boho braids. They look like box braids, dressed up with wispy curls to provide a stylishly messy look. It’s no wonder the protective style is so common; they are easy to maintain, stylish and fun.

Protective styles are not a new concept; from twists to cornrows to box braids, people with kinkier hair textures are familiar with the many options for protecting their natural hair and looking good while doing it. 

Echoing the pick-up-and-drop braids of the 90s, bohemian box braids (sometimes referred to as goddess braids or boho braids) provide a casual-chic update to a tried and true style. They’ve been seen on celebrities from Zendaya to Zoe Kravitz, and if you wind back the clock, you can find similar styles on Y2K icons like Brandy and “Dangerously in Love”-era Beyoncé. With wispy curls interspersed within the braids, the style provides a beachy, laidback look. 

The style begins with a base of box braids, though the length and size can vary from person to person. Varying lengths of curly strands are incorporated into the braids at different spots, lengthening the style and blending curls and braids for a cohesive, carefree look. The style can be achieved with synthetic or human hair, though most stylists recommend the latter. Human hair is easier to maintain and tangles less, and synthetic curls have a tendency to get matted. Though human hair is more expensive than synthetic hair, many stylists say the difference in cost is worth it. The price of boho braids varies depending on the length, hair type and stylist, but generally ranges from $150 to $250.

To keep the braids looking fresher longer, it’s important to take proper care of the hairstyle. I know it may sound redundant to protect a protective style, but it’s necessary to keep up the look and maintain the health of your hair! Make sure to wear a bonnet or silk scarf when you sleep to avoid unnecessary tangling. To keep the curls looking fresh, consider misting your hair with a water-conditioner combo. Personally, I’ve found that using a wrap lotion throughout the length of the hair, like this one from Creme of Nature, makes all the difference. Wrap lotion is preferable to mousse, which can leave the curls looking stiff and crunchy.

They’re also a lovely vacation hairstyle, providing beachy waves without sacrificing the health of your natural hair. Feel free to get them wet while swimming; just rinse or wash them when you get out of the water. Again, wrap lotion and leave-in conditioner are your best friends. With proper upkeep, the braids can last six to eight weeks!

Whether it’s boho braids, passion twists, faux locs or something else, the versatility of Black hair is something to be celebrated; so go out, style your hair and remember to look fly while doing it.

Monique Ezeh is a senior at NYU, where she studies politics, journalism, and creative writing. She is a multi-disciplinary writer and researcher, an activist, and a lover of funky earrings. She's also on the social media team for HCNYU! When she's not writing (which is rare), you can usually find Monique baking banana bread, going on long walks, and waiting patiently for Noname's next album.