Box braid extensions are growing in popularity because they are more decorative than normal ones. Since there is a lot of misinformation out there, and many people are getting ripped off by braiders who charge extra for a style they don't really know how to do, I thought I'd clear some things up.
1. Box braids are four strand braids made by crossing opposing strands one pair on top of the other. In other words, they are a 4-strand round braid.
2. They can be done either with the person's natural hair or with extensions.
3. It doesn't matter what shape the hair is parted. You can do box braids with diamond shaped or curved parts. You can even make box braids of other braids or dreadlocks, so long as you're using four of them, and crossing the opposing braids.
Most find it difficult to do box braid extensions with only two hands, so usually two braid artists are required to pull it off neatly. This makes it more time consuming and expensive, but some feel the look is well worth it.
Many skilled, experienced braiders have no problem doing it with only two hands. It takes some serious hours of practice and good manual dexterity, but it can be done. So if you're learning, don't give up. In time you'll learn to braid them as quickly as normal 3-strand braids.
Aside of beautiful braids, box braiding is also a good start for "dreadlock" extensions because of their roundness. As nice as they are, though, as with anything else done to the hair, the wrong techniques can permanently ruin your real hair. You might even lose a great deal of it in the process.
Here are some things to watch out for, if you go to get box braids from a braid artist or salon:
As with any kind of braids, too much tension can be painful and possibly cause hair loss. To prevent this with box braids, your braid artist should braid one or two normal fusion stitches close to the roots and only after that start the box braid.
The proper hair texture for box braiding is kinky-straight to curly. This covers most regular Kanekalon "jumbo braid". Yaki and silky-straight textures of synthetic hair are a bit too slippery to hold well.
If you insist on the straighter texture, use human hair as it has microscopic texturing that allows for better hold.
DO NOT allow your braid artist to use fire anywhere near your real hair. Kanekalon synthetic hair is non flammable, but your real hair is very flammable, especially with oils and conditioners in it. Only the ends of the braids should be heat sealed.
If this is not enough, then a small injection of the special fusion glue should be used every few stitches. This usually has a remover that will help the glue to melt when it is time to get the braids removed.
Be careful out there. Whether your braid artist is a licensed cosmetologist or a traditional loctitian, proper training is essential. Some bad hair mistakes have been made in some of the most expensive salons so don't let neon signs and free espresso fool you. Check to see how well they really do their work.