It’s a memory that feels like just yesterday. When I was young and summer would arrive, my mom knew it was time to take me to the salon to get my hair braided, eager to put it in a style that she could be certain wouldn’t interfere with my frolicking in pools for the months ahead. With each appointment came another opportunity to decide what color beads would be adorning my ends. And whether I opted for a simple clear or white bead, or one with some added color and pizazz, having the freedom to choose accessories for my box braids became one of my earliest memories of creativity. So while there are still very few feelings more satisfying than setting my natural hair free, allowing the breeze to penetrate every inch of my scalp, more often than not I’m still wanting to continue to keep my hair protected, and frequently doing so through styles like box braids and twists.
But over the years as protective styles have evolved, so have the accessories available to add to them, proving time and time again that the creativity of Black women is endless. “You can add just about anything to your box braids,” New York City hairstylist Orie Yo, whose clients include Elaine Welteroth and Aurora James, tells TZR. “With each accessory added, the style takes on a new personality.” However, just because there are boundless options, that doesn't always mean everything is for everybody, nor that the look requires tons of decoration. "Braids are so beautiful and not to mention they take hours to install, so I would recommend letting the style and braids take front and center and accessorize to enhance the look," editorial hairstylist and founder of Hair On Purpose Olubunkola Ojeifo says. "There are a lot of trends out there that are cute, but won’t always match your personality and aesthetic, so allow yourself room to explore, but stay true to what feels good to you. Protective style accessories don’t have to be hard to find."
But no matter your style or your price range, you can guarantee that there's something perfect out there for you and whatever vibes you're looking to achieve. Ahead, check out 20 box braid accessories that'll add new life to your protective styles this season.
"These are amazing as a part of a cute denim outfit," Ojeifo says. The trend, which TZR deemed spring's standout makeup embellishment, is one of beauty's most sophisticated, and understated accessories. "Adding the pearls to bobby pins, or finding pins that already have them attached and placing them on your braids is definitely a look."
"This is definitely what I use the most. I like hair string because you can put it through the braids, or you can put it over the braids. It can be manipulated into any kind of pattern or design, and can be bent and twisted into any direction," Yo says.
"A lot of people love these because they're appropriate for any occasion. It's a very universal accessory," Yo insists.
"I see feathers a lot, especially with updos. I feel like as a stylist I can do so much with feathers, they're so versatile and beautiful," Yo says.
"Love these. They really go with any vibe. You can make these hoops add edge to your cornrows or braids, or elegance to a ponytail or high bun," Ojeifo suggests.
"We remember them from childhood and being so youthful," Yo recalls. "But now they're making a comeback in such an unexpected and grown-up way." The accessory has even been spotted on couture runways, adorning the hair of models for Rodarte's Fall/Winter 2019 show in Los Angeles.
"They're so simple yet make so much of a difference. Add as many or as few as you'd like, wherever and however you'd like," Yo says.
"Gold is really the go-to color when it comes to hair accessories, and for good reason. Like, it really goes with just about anything," Yo emphasizes.
"I have two types of clients: the simple ones who like a more classic look, and the ones I call 'Spice Girls,'" Yo jokes. "For my Spice Girls, I like to add some color on select braids for some added fun. It can be like neon highlights."
"I like that these stretch so far. You're able to create a variety of lengths depending on what you want them to look like," Yo says.
"The moment I saw Cardi B with her bedazzled finger waves on the campaign are for her song 'Money,' all I could think about was how fire they'd look in braids and twists, and they do," Yo emphasizes.
"When done right, this can be a total vibe, especially with styles like goddess locs. Yarn has the ability to set a look off completely," Ojeifo says.
"There are so many options with these. You can have hair a different ornament for any occasion," Yo says.
Press-On Hair Stickers
"These are so cool, but you have to be careful because too much heat can ruin the texture of the braiding or twisting hair," Yo warns. "Also, be sure you have the right products to remove it with. Applying to your baby hair is a great alternative."
Decorative Safety Pins
"These are so crafty, and can even be the creative and fashionable way to pin your braids and twists away from your face," Yo says.
"These make decorating your style easy. Just slide on and go," Yo says.
"I've been seeing dream catchers on the bottoms of braid and twist styles and it looks amazing. The creativity is yet another example of how you can add just about anything to your protective styles," Yo emphasizes.
Rhinestone Hair Clips
"I like simple hair bling moments. The trend with the bling that has words like 'FEARLESS' and 'BOSS,' I’m obsessed," Ojeifo exclaims.
"I love wooden beads on the ends of some intricate braiding styles. It gives me total Patrice Rushen and Solange vibes. They can be loud and difficult to sleep in, but they are worth it," Ojeifo says.
"I've been seeing these used much more as the unsealed ends trend becomes more popular. Securing braids with these guarantee a literal rainbow of fun," Yo insists.