I Got Grey Box Braids For Summer — & It Completely Changed My Routine

When it comes to her hair routine, Patia Braithwaite, health editor at Refinery29, likes to keep things simple: She'll sweep her thick natural curls into a high bun and then continue on with her day. But for the first time in a really long time, Braithwaite wants to try something different with a protective style... and not just with your typical 1b plaits. "I’ve wanted to have different coloured hair before, [but] I lived in D.C., which was a little bit more conservative than New York. [Now] I don’t feel like I have to explain myself," she says.
To make a statement, Braithwaite opted for grey ombré Casamance braids (named after a city in Senegal) at Khamit Kimks in Brooklyn, New York. The stylists there say the braids are less painful, which makes them a popular choice for clients like Braithwaite. "The reason I stopped getting my hair braided in high school is because it hurt. I'd be in pain for three days," she says. "It just wasn't worth it."
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Without protective styles to fall back on, there was no happy medium: Braithwaite's mum wouldn't let her get a perm until the age of 16, and there was plenty of fighting between them in those early days. Even after a relaxer, Braithwaite still struggled with the usual breakage, loss, and thinning. So, she caved in to her mother's original stance and went natural.
"I watched a lot of YouTube videos about transitioning and styling," she says. "I thought going natural was going to be super hard. I got a haircut and loved how my face looked." Although her curls are hidden in her braids (for now), she still holds on to that same confidence — which helped her choose this bold summer style. "My hair is pretty and feral. When I was younger, I really wanted to fit in with a relaxer," she says. "Now, I want to stand out. I love myself just the way I am – big, complicated hair and all."
See Braithwaite's transformation — and hear her hair story — above.
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