11 Ways To Make Your Box Braids & Cornrows Look Even Cooler

We could go on and on about the many benefits of protective styles. They give your hair a break from hot tools and product buildup, plus they're so easy to maintain. Aside from the technical stuff, they also look really effing cool. We've already seen how Lupita Nyong'o has transformed the bob, but some people still want their long, flowing braids, twists, and faux locs for the summer — and we can't blame 'em. If you're going long, now is a great time to channel your inner African goddess and add beads to your look.

“Braids have been decorated since the beginning of time," César Ramirêz, Mizani global artistic director, tells us. “I believe they're derived from a very old tribal tradition that has been passed down into fashion.”

He's certainly right about the latter: Disco divas like Patrice Rushen were known to rock them in the '70s, and hordes of imitators followed throughout the decades. We've seen mini resurgences of the look throughout the years, but now, they're back in a big way — and it can be yours, too. “I love shopping at [craft stores] for all sorts of beads, charms, and chains that I incorporate into hair," Ramirêz continues. “They can be sewn or clamped in. Even wrapping a thin wire in adds some texture. Have fun with it!”

Want to try it yourself? Scroll on for a dose of inspiration, and bookmark before you hit the craft store.

"A little twist on a traditional cornrows/box braiding style," Ramiêz captioned an Instagram. "Added metal jewels, shells, and chains and now it's steampunk."
Ebonee Davis channeled Marsha Hunt (who was the first Black model to cover British mag Queen) with this stunning look, done by Lacy Redway.
Y'all know Beyoncé loves her cornrows, so we're not surprised to see her debut this look.
Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images/Tribeca Film Festival.
Cowrie shells and bow barrettes, for the culture.
"Patrice is MOM," Solange captioned, giving a nod to Rushen.
Kelis is giving some Rick James realness for summer '17.
Photo: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images.
You don't have to pile your decor on to get the look — sometimes simple is better.
It was only right for @miss__posh to team her metallic accessories with a killer highlight.
Photo: Christian Vierig/GC Images.
Add head jewelry for instant goddess status.
"In my (Nyenyo) caste, women only get piercings done with gold, because they say other metals don't heal! And babies that are pierced with gold are called BÉTÉ-BÉTÉ, which means : pierced with gold," the regal Khoudia Diop captioned a shot from her Ode to Senegal, her homeland.
"I remember watching Michael Jackson's "Remember The Time" music video feeling inspired," stylist Roger Medina explained. "Taking elements from that video and infusing them with influences of Rick James, Erykah Badu, and Solange."
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