I Got The Viral French Box Braids And Feel Like A Queen

I'm never going back.
Habiba Katsha with French Curl Braids.
Habiba Katsha
Habiba Katsha with French Curl Braids.

It’s hard to think about your identity as a Black woman without thinking about hair. Whether we want to admit it or not, it plays an integral role in our lives.

Lots of Black women have spent years trying to unlearn European beauty standards – and many of us are still in the process of unlearning.

Despite this, braids have always been a staple hairstyle for lots of Black women.

When we were younger, we spent countless weekends getting our hair braided by our mothers or aunties. I loved my braids as a child – it was the hairstyle mums made us have so they wouldn’t have to do our hair every morning.

However, it wasn’t until I got older that I truly fell in love with braided hairstyles. I’ve had weaves, wigs and relaxed my hair – but braids are my favourite.

In 2021, I decided to cut my hair and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Short hair allowed me to feel free and rid myself of the idea that hair length makes me beautiful.

But the length of my natural hair also meant I wasn’t able to get braids anymore. Even though I loved my hair I was filled with envy when I saw my Black girlfriends with boho braids, cornrows or locs.

As I spent my days longing to have braids, there was one braided hairstyle that was taking over TikTok: French curl braids. In fact, the hashtag ‘French curl braids’ currently has 130.7m views on the app.


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I decided enough was enough and spent the first half of the year growing out my hair so I could join in the fun.

Your hair has to be a certain length to be plaited to get braids done. Once my hair was long enough, I rushed to my auntie’s salon and let the transformation begin.

French curl braids aren’t like regular braids, as they are obviously curly. Normally, you’d be able to go to your local hair shop to pick up a few packs of synthetic hair. But, with this style, it’s best to find hair that has been pre-curled.

So, I did some Googling and found someone who stocked curly braided hair. I bought six packets and waited for my hair appointment to arrive. As I walked into my auntie’s salon, I felt anxious and excited. Anxious because I knew how taxing the next couple of hours would be, but excited as I was going to be a braided up baddie again.

After eight hours, my hair was complete and I felt like an African queen. Nothing really compares to the feeling of fresh braids. Your scalp looks neat and tidy and your hair is so tight it’s like mini Botox. No seriously, my hair was so tight I had to take paracetamol.

But that didn’t stop me from feeling like a goddess.

I opted for brownish ginger French curl braids as I wanted a brighter hair colour for the summer. The hair is 24 inches long, so it comes right down to my torso.

One of the best things about being a Black woman is being able to change your hair when you please. Each hairstyle makes you feel very different and braids make me feel at home. I feel so close to my roots when my hair is braided, while the curls add that wow factor.

Habiba with French Curl Braids.
Habiba Katsha
Habiba with French Curl Braids.

“Braids are the perfect protective style heading into the summer months. If you have curly or coily hair, you’re already prone to breakage as it’s harder for your hair to retain moisture,” SheaMoisture UK’s in-house afro hair expert, Jennie Roberts says.

“This low-maintenance style helps keep your hair healthy and moisturised by limiting harmful exposure to the sun and heat damage if you’re prone to wearing other protective hairstyles such as weaves,” Roberts adds.

Afro-Caribbean hair stylist Felicia Annang, who is the founder of Braids By Fels, says she remembers seeing French curl braids on her aunties when she was younger.

“It’s interesting to see how trends resurface as a result of social media, even though it continues to remain popular mainly within the African countries for example Nigeria and Ghana,” Annang says.

“However, as much as we see people requesting us stylists to recreate the look, it’s not top of the list compared to the consistent wave of boho braids.”

Another benefit of this hairstyle is that you can style it in various ways. “One of the benefits of French curl braids is its versatility,” Annang explains.

“You can layer it like you would do with a blowout and the most common braid styles. Although, the most popular style is half up half down with a claw clip, which gives a clean but standout look and seems to be the current go to,” she adds.

Though braids are generally a low-maintenance hairstyle, you can increase the longevity of them by moisturising your hair and protecting it at night.

“It’s really important to use an SPF on both the hair and scalp, focusing on making sure the scalp is protected first and then the hair last,” says Karen Windle, salon manager of Chop Chop London.

“Using a moisturising curl creme at the start when beginning styling will help keep the style neat and I’d recommend regularly topping up the moisture levels with a hydrating styling spray, to be applied topically at intervals,” she says.

Annang recommends using a silk bonnet to maintain the quality of the braids and longevity as the silk prevents friction.

Like Windle, she also suggests moisturising your hair every week and “using a mousse and a blow dryer to take any flyaways that eventually show up as the weeks go by”.

I’m dreading the day when I have to take my hair out, because I’ve enjoyed this hairstyle so much. The braids are back and I fear that they are here to stay all summer long.