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Braided hairstyles are great alternatives to weaves like wigs and track extensions. Braids can be long or short in length and thick or skinny in width. Braids can be worn for a month or more, depending on the style and how well they are maintained. Some braided hairstyles that last that long should be moisturized weekly and cleaned by shampooing or simply running warm water over them in the shower.
Cornrows are a classic braided style. They are created when synthetic or human hair is braided very close to the scalp. First, hair is parted back in a row, then synthetic or human hair is braided onto your real hair. Cornrow braids can be simply braided straight back or into complex designs. They can be worn for one to two months -- maybe more, depending on how well you take care of them.
If you're a fan of bobs, you don't have to give them up if you want a braided hairstyle. A bob can be styled as box braids. Your real hair is parted in squares, then mixed with synthetic braided hair to create medium-sized braids. The braids are burned at the end. Box braids can also be longer. If taken care of properly, this style can last up to two months.
Long thick braids are referred to as patra-style braids after the '90s Jamaican rap artist Cleopatra, who wore them as her signature. This braided style requires the use of synthetic hair. Hair is parted in little square boxes, then braided at the roots all the way down past your shoulders -- as long as the middle of your back -- then burned at the end. The braids can be styled in a huge bun on the top of your head, high ponytail or down with a turban-style hat covering the top. This style should only be worn for up to a month, because the strain the thickness of the synthetic braided hair puts on your real hair strands may cause breakage.
Micro-sized braids, referred to as just micro braids, are usually created by adding purchased human or synthetic hair and braiding it with your own hair into thin braids. Synthetic hair is burned at the ends; human hair is not. Micro braids are a long-lasting braided style. They can be worn for three months or more, depending on how well you take care of your braids and on your hair quality and hair type. Straight human hair sometimes falls out easily. Textured, wavy human hair is more coarse, and is less likely to loosen and fall out. Synthetic hair doesn't have that issue because of the process of burning the ends.