knotless braids vs box braids

Knotless Braids vs Box Braids: What’s the Difference?

Braids are undoubtedly one of the best protective hairstyles out there, but they’re also of different types. Some of the most adorable options are box braids and knotless braids, and they look pretty similar. Even with those similarities, there are clear differences between the two.

Knotless braids are simply the same as box braids, but without the knot that signifies the addition of hair extensions. While you also need to use extensions for knotless, you add it in a way that it looks so natural without protruding at the roots of your hair.

In this article, I’ll compare box braids and knotless braids to help you decide what to choose between the two. Also, you’ll see some of the most crucial differences between the two hairstyles and which one wins out in common tests.

What are Box Braids?

Box braids refer to a hairstyle that involves making the hair into tiny strands formed by separating the hair into little boxes across your head’s surface. The hair is then made into braids of three strands, hence, the box braids name.

Box braids don’t have to be in the shape of little boxes across the entire surface of your head. If the partitions end up looking like triangles, you can still refer to them as box braids. Moreover, most of the box braids hairstyles you’ll see will not be in boxes.

Since you need to add extensions to the hair before braiding it into long strands, it takes a lot of practice to master box braids. Even if you opt to using the services of a hairstylist, you’ll still have to sit for a long time to get it done, and it often scares people away from getting the hairstyle.

What are Knotless Braids?

Knotless braids are so similar to box braids that some people even refer to them as ‘knotless box braids.’ The difference between the two hairstyles is also subtle, and unless you’re actively looking for the signs, it’s very easy to mistake one for the other.

When making box braids, you add hair extensions at the roots of the hair before starting to braid it up. Since the extensions are a foreign part, they’ll cause a protrusion, forming something that looks like a knot at the roots.

In a bid to get rid of the knots, some hairdressers stopped adding the hair extensions right at the root of the hair. Instead, they’ll braid the hair alone for an inch or two before adding the extension gradually, which amounts to box braids, but without the knot. Over time, that hairstyle became known as knotless box braids.

Due to the absence of knots, knotless braids look a lot more cohesive and natural. In some cases, you can’t even tell the presence of extensions in the hair because of how seamlessly the entire thing integrates. The following few sections will dive deep into the differences between the two hairstyles.

Which Lasts Longer: Box Braids or Knotless?

When out for a long-lasting hairstyle, you won’t go wrong with either box braids or knotless braids. However, there’s a defined difference between the two, and that difference impacts how long each one will last when you install it. So, which lasts longer: box braids or knotless braids?

Regular box braids always seem to do better when it comes to longevity. Knotless box braids have no supporting hair extensions at the root, preventing the hair from holding on properly to the scalp. While that doesn’t mean the hair will come off as soon as you finish installing it, you also shouldn’t expect insane longevity.

With that said, you can still expect your knotless braids to last for up to two months. When you compare this to the couple of weeks you get with other protective styles like two-strand twists, you’ll understand how well it holds up in terms of longevity.

Are Box Braids Cheaper than Knotless?

Since both hairstyles look virtually the same, you can expect them to also have a similar price tag. Both regular box braids and knotless box braids require the same type of hair extensions, the same type of three-strand braiding, and other similarities.

However, knotless braids seem to take a little more effort, since you need to add the extensions expertly to ensure you’re getting a hairstyle that looks natural. That makes it harder to make them yourself at home, and even when you plan to use a hairstylist, you’ll end up paying more than you would for regular box braids.

Summarily, if you have a friend or relative that could help you install the hairstyle for free, box braids and knotless braids should be the same price. However, if you’re using a salon, you’ll likely have to pay more for the knotless braids than you would for regular box braids.

Knotless Braids vs Box Braids: Pros and Cons

There are several advantages to getting both box braids and knotless braids, and depending on what you want with your hair, one should appeal better than the other. The next few sections will analyze the pros and cons of knotless and box braids to help you decide.

Pros and Cons of Knotless Braids

If you want your hair to look s natural as possible, knotless braids is probably your best bet, and that’s the biggest advantage of wearing the style. When you install knotless box braids, your hair will look effortlessly natural with no traces of the addition of a hair extension to it.

They also usually weigh less than the regular box braids hairstyle since you don’t need to add a bulk of the hair extension to your hair at once. If you fear the possibility of developing traction alopecia as a result of your hairstyle, going for knotless braids should alleviate all of your worries.

The hair also puts less stress on your scalp, which translates to a load of benefits. In addition to preventing hair breakage, which leads to traction alopecia, the reduced tension wíll also give you a painless experience, which is one of the reasons why I’ll always choose knotless over knotted.

On the negative side, however, adding hair extensions to your hair to make it look natural without creating a huge knot at the base is probably the hardest job you’ll have to do when DIYing. If you plan to make your hair yourself, you have a better chance of success with regular box braids than with knotless braids.

Knotless braids are also not cheap. Since it’s not easy to install them yourself, you almost always have to use the services of a hairstylist, who’s going to charge you more than for box braids. That normally shouldn’t be a worry, if not that knotless braids still don’t last as long as box braids.

Pros and Cons of Box Braids

Box braids came before knotless, so you should also expect it to have a fair bit of advantages too, and it does. For one, it lasts longer than knotless braids, with everything else being equal. By taking care of your braids properly, you can get them to last for two months or more without having to redo the entire style.

It’s also easier to install regular box braids yourself, and even if you’re not up for that, there are tons of stylists willing to do it for you. Unlike knotless braids, it’s not a new hairstyle, and almost every other person knows how to install it properly.

Another advantage is that the hair extension is enclosing almost the entire length of your hair with box braids. That way, it becomes harder for anything dangerous to make it to your hair, effectively reducing the chances of frizz or hair breakage.

As for the drawbacks, the tension that the knots create could be pretty painful, eventually leading to scalp sensitivity. If you discuss box braids within your circle, you must’ve noticed a few friends discouraging you from getting the hairstyle on account of the inevitable scalp pain, which is true.

Also, braiding your hair too tightly into this style may cause complications, most commonly breakage. While you can avoid this easily by simply not braiding too tightly, you’d be surprised at just how many people obsess over the looks of their hair and end up making their hair too tight.


If you’re not a fan of the knot that appears naturally when you add hair extensions to your box braids, you can try out knotless braids to get rid of them. Apart from lacking the knots, there aren’t a lot of differences between regular box braids and knotless.

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One Comment

  1. It’s great that you pointed out how one of the best protective hairstyles out there is undoubtedly the braids. I was chatting with one of my friends last night and I heard she wants to have her hair braided. This time, she should probably try out knotless box braids.

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