If you’re thinking about pinning knotless braids, congratulations and welcome to the future—at least that’s what Kamilah (“Queen of Knotless Braids” nicknamed Ms. Hair and Humor) thinks. Low tension, simple maintenance, and easy weight control make these braids a standout preventative style, especially for women looking to achieve hair growth rather than damage.
But knotless box braids are more than just a great way to style natural hair. “It erases years of trauma that black women have experienced in getting braid hairstyles,” says Ms. Hair & Humor. “I’ve seen the wave of emotions that hit people as they experiment with a knotless braid, and I hope more women understand that braids don’t have to hurt.”
Saloon owner and celebrity Susan O’Lodeli agrees. “Box braids and protection styles are meant to protect your hair, not destroy it,” she says, which is why she teaches the knot-less technique at the beauty school she opened to address the lack of education about black hair specifically. “With knotless box braids, you don’t have a lot of weight, you don’t have a lot of tension on your scalp, it’s much flatter on your head, and it looks smooth,” says Olodeli.
Are you ready to try it out for yourself? Here’s everything you need to know about knotless box braids.
What Are Knotless Box Braids?
Knotless braids are just like traditional three rope braids. They can be made in different sizes and lengths. The biggest difference is that knot-free braids do not include the small knots that start at the root of traditional box braids. Traditionally, this knot is used to tie braiding hair. With Knotless braids, the hairstyle is created using the nourishing braid technique instead. This involves adding small amounts of braided hair to your natural hair as you go along, making the braid look flatter. As a result, your braids are also not as heavy on your scalp, which helps reduce the risk of hair breakage.
How To Do Knotless Box Braids?
Follow our step-by-step tutorial to create a Knotless braids masterpiece as easily as a professional hair braider, right from the comfort of your home.
Step 1. Prep Your Hair
Before braiding your hair in any way, you should always start with freshly washed and moisturized strands. The key is to provide long-lasting moisture to your hair because the braids will stay on your hair for weeks. Use L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Moisturizing Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Conditioner before traveling to Knotless box braids.
Step 2. Detangle Your Strands
Then, as always, make sure your hair is free of any knots or tangles. Use L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Non-Stop Dreamy Curls Leave-In Conditioner, which adds slip and extra hydration to your tresses. Using a wide-tooth comb, detangle your hair from the ends to the roots.
Step 3. Divide Your Hair Into Sections
Unwinding the braiding process will make the overall task less stressful. To help you do this, divide your hair into four equal sections. Use hair ties and claw clips to secure three of these sections apart as you start one.
Step 4. Add Your Hair Cream
Next, you’ll want to give your hair more moisture to protect it for the duration of your knotless braids wear. Apply nourishing hair cream or a bit of leave-in conditioner to your tresses, and be sure to show some love to your ends as well.
Step 5. Perfect Your Parts
Using a rat tail comb, create your parts. You can choose to use the parts of the box or parts of the triangle – but make a decision first. Creating subtle sections will help you avoid borrowing hair from the outside of each individual strand and will give your knotless braids a more polished look in the end.
Editor’s Tip: Your parts should be one-to-one for the size of the braids you want. In other words, don’t use an inch of hair for a two-inch braid. It will cause undue tension on your scalp even with knotless braids.
Step 6. Craft Your Knotless Braids
Once you have defined your sections and confirmed the volume of your braids, create a small section and apply some hair gel, such as L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle LOCK IT Extreme Style Gel, to the roots of the section to help keep the braid in place. Divide the section into three strands and start weaving your braid. Once you have three links braided (or as long as that makes sense for the length you want your braids to be), add some hair braiding and continue working your way down. Once you reach the ends, add a little gel to hold.
Editor’s Tip: The type of braiding you buy will make a huge difference in how well the ends of your hair hold, so be sure to pick exactly what you need for a hassle-free experience.
Step 7. Use Holding Spray For Extra Staying Power
Once the braid is complete, apply a holding spray to the braid from root to tip. This will help your hair stick to the synthetic hair and prevent your braid from unraveling while you continue to work. This extra step adds some time and work to the process, but it can make a big difference in how long your knotless box braids stay intact.
Step 8. Repeat In Each Section
Repeat the process on the remaining sections of your hair until you have a head full of knotless braids.
Step 9. Seal Your Style
Apply an egg-sized amount of hair mousse, such as L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle, BOOST IT Volume Inject Mousse, to your braids from root to tip. This will give your braids extra hold for a long-lasting look.
Step 10. Add The Finishing Touch
Once the braids have completely absorbed the foam, it’s time to wrap things up. If you’ve ever braided your hair professionally, you may remember that the braids are used to dip your braids in hot water to lock in the foam. Unless you know exactly what to do, you may want to skip this step at home. Instead, spray your braids with a shine-enhancing hairspray, like L’Oreal Paris Elnett Precious Hairspray for Shiny Hair, to give your braids a natural shine.
How To Maintain Your Knotless Box Braids
Congratulations on your new set of knotless braids! Now, follow the three tips below to help keep your braids looking flawless for weeks (while also protecting your natural hair).
1. Oil Your Scalp Every Week
While you should have taken steps to condition your hair, after a while, your tresses will need more hydration. Using your favorite hair oil, oil your skin once a week to keep your scalp and hair properly hydrated.
2. Protect Your Braids At Night, No Exceptions
While you may feel that having a protective style means less maintenance, you still need to protect it at night in order for it to last. Covering your braids with a scarf or silk scarf can help protect your hair from frizz and keep your braids intact. After all your hard work, you won’t want to see your knotless braids unravel.
3. Take Them Down When It’s Time
Looks pretty like knotless braids, after six weeks it’s time to remove the braids. If you leave it in for too long, you risk discoloring your hair from the roots, which can cause it to break when trying to detangle it. So, play it safe and take down the braids in time.