Everything You Need to Know About Knotless Braids

Knotless braids are a hairstyle that seemingly offer, well, everything. “The pros of knotless braids include hair growth, styling flexibility, and they are weightless and pain-free,” says Pearl Ransome, a professional master braider and the CEO of Pearl The Stylist Studio. “Clients have the option to style their hair for any occasion—the office, working out, on vacation. Once they are installed, they can be styled immediately, due to less tension.”

No wonder you can hardly scroll Instagram without seeing a new celebrity sporting the chic protective style. That tension-free perk is one of the key reasons the modern take on box braids has had so much success, too: “The step to executing this technique is starting with your natural hair, followed by gradually weaving in braiding extensions. This will allow the braids to lay flat, giving it the natural look,” explains Ransome. “The technique for traditional box braids (locking at the start) does not afford the same flexibility as the knotless. Unfortunately, it creates more tension at the scalp which could lead to breakage.”

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And breakage is something we all want to avoid, for obvious reasons. To learn everything you need to know about knotless braids—including prices, styles, and which size to try first—keep reading as Ransome walks us through the mega-popular style.

How much does the average knotless braid installation cost?

So, obviously, you’re all in on knotless braids, but it’s good to take a moment to consider the price tag first. “For a trained braid professional, the average cost could range from $300 to $600,” says Ransome. “This includes, but is not limited to, size, length, technique, style (boho with curly ends), color mix, and more.” Remember you aren’t just paying for someone’s expertise, either—time is a major factor here. Ransome says that a knotless braid installation can require anywhere from four to seven hours.

Is it possible to DIY knotless braids?

Ready to two-day ship extensions to your house after seeing that price? Not so fast. Ransome says it’s “highly recommended” to leave knotless braids to the professionals, even if it’s certainly possible to DIY the style. “A professional braider can ensure the measurement of boxes are tailored to your crown,” she says. “They can also avoid tension and the amount of extensions used.” In the long run, going to a pro might not only save you money on supplies, but it’ll also probably save your hair from breakage.

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Which knotless braid size is right for you?

With knotless braid sizes ranging anywhere from jumbo to teensy tiny, you should go into your appointment set on a chosen dimension. Ransome actually recommends medium braids for knotless braid first-timers, since “it’s less hair and quicker turn around in the chair.” The same logic doesn’t quite apply to jumbo braids, though. “Large lasts up to two weeks. It is a quick protective style for vacation,” explains the braider.

Finally, choose smaller braids if you really want to take advantage of the protective nature of the style. “Small is a great style for growing your hair, has a fuller look, lasts longer, and provides more versatility with styling,” she notes.

How to care for knotless braids once you have them.

Fast forward to the future, and you’re now the proud owner of flawless, knotless braids. What now? “Depending on care, knotless braids can last up to two months. My clients visit me every six to eight weeks for a touch-up—a touch-up consists of rebraiding the perimeter,” explains Ransome. She also notes how important it is to keep your hair hydrated with weekly mousse or oil sheens, and to focus on washing your scalp rather than the entire braided style.

“Also, I strongly recommend my clients tie their hair down at night with a silk scarf, bonnet, or pillow case (optional),” she notes. “Sleeking your edges is key! It gives the hairstyle a fresh look.”

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How can you style knotless braids?

To quote Mean Girls, the limit does not exist when it comes to styling options. Ransome suggests throwing knotless braids up in a high or low ponytail if you’re going to work out, styling in a bun or half-up, half-down bun for dinner, or accessorizing an updo with flowers for a wedding.

You have options for the braids themselves, as well: “There are many variations—boho knotless with curls, the colorful gel bands, and beads (preferably clear beads). The one I favor the most is my knotless bob,” says Ransome. “My vision was to flip a traditional style and make a bold look that gives character while making my clients feel sexy. As a stylist, it’s important for me to find ways to be creative as braids are constantly evolving.”

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