Everything You Need to Know About Knotless Braids

Beyonce. Keke Palmer. Tessa Thompson. Zoë Kravitz. Knotless box braids are endlessly popular and look great on everyone—including these gorgeous celebrities. Whether hanging at home, out to brunch with the girls, or getting photos taken by the paparazzi on the red carpet, this braiding style is always a good idea.

Although knotless box braids are generally installed the same way, that doesn't mean all looks are similar. The beloved protective style can be worn in hundreds of different ways, including a high ponytail, half-up, half-down, an updo, or just down to name a few. No matter what, it's a gorgeous look and a serious timesaver. If you're thinking knotless box braids might be perfect for your next protective style, we chatted with licensed cosmetologist and certified hair loss practitioner Courtney Foster to find out everything you need to know.

The Difference Between Knotless Braids and Traditional Box Braids:

The difference between knotless box braids and traditional box braids, well, is the knot. But that's not all. “With traditional box braids, the braiding hair is wrapped around the client's hair, forming a knot that sits on top of the scalp,” explains Foster. “This can sometimes be irritating to the scalp. It is usually very tight and can cause breakage.” She also notes that traditional box braids require using a lot of braiding hair, which can become heavy on the head, causing even more damage. The braids are very stiff requiring days to loosen.
“Knotless braids use the 'feed in' method where the client's natural hair is braided first, then the braiding hair is continuously added, or fed into, the braid,” she continues. “Knotless braids are usually lighter since they require less braiding hair. Clients are able to pull their hair up into a bun almost immediately after the service is complete. They can sleep comfortably and do not have to worry about breakage. Overall, there's less tension with this braiding technique.


With proper maintenance, knotless box braids can last as long as traditional box braids. This can include sleeping on a silk pillowcase and using a silk scarf, as well as applying leave-in conditioner or scalp oil. The upkeep is basically the same as any other box braid. “The general rule I advise my clients is going no longer than eight to 10 weeks with the braids in,” says Foster. “Any longer than that you're looking at potential breakage and matting.”