Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hairstyle How-To: 4 Strand Box Braid

Most of us can do a 3 strand braid without too much difficulty. The idea of learning how to do 4 and 5 strand braids is both intriguing and sometimes daunting.  I know it was a daunting idea for me, even 3 years ago.

I am one of those people who is truly all thumbs.  My typing is slow, my fingers aren't nimble--I feel as though I have no dexterity.

Yet, I was so charmed by the look of the 4 strand box braid and the 5 strand flat braid that I made it my business to learn how to do them, no matter how long it took.

I started learning each braid by doing it as a half-up braid.  Having less hair to work with seemed to make it much easier.  Also, doing a half-up allowed me to have a decent sized braid with more plaits than if I tried to braid the length of my hair.

It took me at least a week to learn the 4 strand box braid. It was really something new to try to figure out the fingering, even though I had the pattern firmly in my mind.

I remember that I would attempt making that 4 strand braid, and I would get a few rounds into it and then make a mistake.  I would then start over.  As soon as I felt the least bit frustrated, I called it quits for that day.

Yet, day by day, my fingering got better.  The muscle memory was beginning to get there.  Finally one day I made that 4 strand box braid in a half-updo!  After that, I knew how to do it forever.

The pattern for the box braid is very easy. It's a really nice looking braid because it has a 3-dimensional quality. 

1. Divide the hair in 4 equal strands.  

2. Mentally number the strands from left to right: 1, 2, 3, 4.  

3. Take strand 1. Bring it under strands 2 and 3 and then over strand 3.  It will now sit in the strand 2 place.

4. Take strand 4.  Bring it under strands 3 and 2 and then over strand 2.  It will now sit in the strand 3 place.

5. Rename the strand again from left to right, 1, 2, 3 and 4.  Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the braid is done.

If you have trouble with this, don't worry.  You are using fingering that you're not used to.  Yet I guarantee that with practice, anyone can do this.  You just need patience, and don't be frustrated if you don't learn it in a day.

Once you learn it, you will be able to start doing it in a French style too.  

Here is a photo of my 4 strand box braid half-up. It is held with a Scunci Ouchless Invisible elastic.  They're made of silicone, and I find them to be quite hair friendly, although they need a bit more care to remove than the regular Scunci elastics that I talked about earlier this week.

Have fun braiding!


  1. I love braids. That braid looks very pretty in your hair.

  2. What a gorgeous braid! Thanks for the directions too. I once was making an egg braid loaf of bread that required 4 lengths to be braided. Boy. Did I end up with a mess. Tasted good but not even close to what it was supposed to look like.

  3. Thank you so much I have been having trouble with this box braid for a week now, I can get the length but not the start of the braid on the head itself, your instructions are clear and very easy to follow I'm so happy it actually looks right now lol btw are you on LHC I'm going to give you credit in my album when I get the pic of my braid up :D


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