Figuring out just how much hair to buy can be an enigma wrapped in a riddle, shrouded in mystery. Life’s already a puzzle, so we figured we’d help you take the guesswork out of the process with our complete hair-buying guide. Whether you’re getting box braids, cornrows, crochets or a weave, we’ll break down just how many packs or bundles you’ll need and share our mobile stylists’ favorite go-to brands. (Yup, we have an at-home hairstyling service currently serving NYC, check it out here).
Side Bar: Hair Brands We Love
Some of our favorite braiding and crochet hair brands include:
- Harlem 125: their Durban Twist is great
- Janet Collection: great for pre-braided locs, braids, Mambo twists and human braiding hair
- Outre: good for a cheap weave, they’ve got good pre-braided/locd/twisted hair that can be found in beauty shops
- X-pression by Outre: good braiding hair, especially if you prefer softer synthetic hair
- FreeTress by Milky Way: they got great braided crochet hair
- African Collection: we like their pre-curled crochet hair
There may be very slight differences in texture among Kanekalon (synthetic hair), however for the most part, the main difference between X-pression and everything else is its length, the amount of hair in the pack, and its silkier texture.
The standard weight the manufactures put in each pack of hair usually ranges between 3-4 ounces.
If you’d like to achieve a boho chic Zoe Kravitz look, go for a premium synthetic brand like X-pression or opt for human hair bundles.
How Much Hair Varies
One important thing to keep in mind when buying hair (especially when it comes to braids), is that the amount of hair needed can vary from person to person. Why? Because God made us all unique in our own way! 😉 No, but really, it largely depends on three important factors:
- Your hair texture: are you relaxed or natural?
- Your hair density: is your hair thick or thin?
- How much hair you have: are you rocking shaved sides?
Once you’ve taken these factors into account, you then need to determine what look you’re going for: Diana Ross-type volume, super-sleek or something in between? It’s a lot to think about, but we got you! No matter your texture, our recommendations take into account buying a little more than needed because it’s always better to have too much hair than too little in this case.
Let’s kick things off with braids! Braids are making a comeback (not that they ever really left), and thanks to many celebs, cornrows and box braids aren’t just for vacation anymore. In fact, they’re taking the lead as a go-to style for summer, winter, spring or fall (basically year-round). They’re just so versatile and an easy protective style.
How Much Hair to Get for Box Braids
Box braids (traditional or knotless), are probably the trickiest style when it comes to buying hair. You can get them super long, down to your waist or just under your chin. Not to mention the various sizes of the braid. (Check out our in-depth box braid style guide).
Wait, what if I want Zoe Kravitz box braids with the loose wavy ends? That can be achieved with human hair. See the side bar above.
- For long box braids that are medium-width, purchase 12-13 packs of Kankelon braiding hair at the beauty shop or 8-9 packs of X-pression hair.
- For medium length box braids that are medium-width, purchase 9-11 packs of Kanekalon hair, or 7-9 packs of X-pression hair.
- For medium-width or jumbo short box braids, purchase 7-8 packs of Kankelon braiding hair or 5-6 packs of X-pression hair.
- For jumbo-sized long box braids buy 12-13 packs of Kankelon braiding hair or 8-9 packs of X-pression hair.
Note: the fuller you want your braids, the more hair you’ll use. But also keep in mind you’ll be adding more weight and thus tension to your strands.
Let’s keep things moving, shall we? Maybe you’re thinking about keeping things simple with basic cornrows or getting something a little more elaborate, such as a braided updo, Fulani or Lemonade braids? Here’s the breakdown of what’s needed for each style.
- For two cornrows like the ones shown above: 1-2 packs of Kanekalon hair (depending on the desired thickness) or 1 pack of X-pression
- For 10 or less simple medium sized cornrows all back (just past my shoulders)? 2-3 packs of Kanekalon hair or 2 packs of X-pression
- What if my hair is thin? You may want to add a little more hair for fullness, but 2-3 packs of Kanekalon or 2 packs of X-pression should do. However, be careful. If your hair is thin and tends to break easily, cornrows might not be the best option for you. Applying more tension than your hair can handle will lead to breakage and even Traction Alopecia.
How much hair should I buy for Fulani Braids?
How much hair should I buy if I want to get Fulani braids (just past my shoulders)? 9 packs of Kanekalon braiding hair or 7 packs of X-pression.
Lemonade Braids 🍋
Thanks to a certain mega-star from Houston Texas–ahem, Beyoncé–these braids (which were aptly named after her groundbreaking album) are a go-to style. To achieve this look, with the standard medium width braids, 5-6 packs of braiding hair should be enough. But a good rule of thumb is to get a couple more packs, if you’d like them smaller or you have a lot of hair.
For the braided updo no more than 2-3 packs of Kanekalon braiding hair is needed to achieve this look with medium-sized braids. If you have a full head of thick hair, or would like skinnier braids, you should spring for 3 or 4 packs of Kanekalon hair. If you’re using a premium brand like, X-pression, get less because more hair comes in the pack.
Did you know?
- In many African tribes, braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe.
- Braid patterns and hairstyles were an indication of a person’s tribe, age, marital status, wealth, power, and religion.
How Much Hair for Crochets
We love crochets because they’re easier to DIY than a weave install and are the ultimate time hack when it comes to box braids, twists and goddess locs. Learn more about crochets and our favorite brands. How much crochet hair varies depending on the texture and brand, but the general average is 5 packs.
- Crochet Braids, Locs or Twists: 4-5 packs of hair is required
- Crochets with Curly or Straight hair: 5-6 packs of hair is required
We wrote everything you need to know about weaves in case you’re starting from scratch. For those that already have a basic understanding, peep the breakdown below and our brand recommendations to achieve the look you’re going for.
How much hair should I get for a full weave?
- If you’re buying packs, 2 packs will be more than enough. For a fuller look, three packs is recommended, although you may not end up using it all.
- If you’re buying bundles, on average 3 bundles should do, but you may use 2 – 4, depending on fullness and length. Generally, for long or full hair 4 bundles is usually best. For a partial install, short hair or a sleek (not full) look, you could probably get away with 2 bundles. But when in doubt go for the magic number, 3 (or get more than you need if you can afford it). Bundles have to be purchased by the ounce, typically 3.5 ounces.
3 things to keep in mind when it comes to buying weave:
- For weave hairstyles 18 inches or longer, we recommend getting 3 packs of hair
- Shorter bundles like 10 and 12 inches typically have longer tracks (more hair)
- One hack to achieve fuller hair without buying more hair is to purchase hair with larger curls i.e. deep loose wave or a kinky straight.
Which brands do you recommend for kinky hair?
Heat Free Hair is 100% virgin hair extensions exclusively for natural textures. What’s really cool about their brand is they own the factory that makes Heat Free Hair and are the creative directors of the entire operation– from sourcing the right kind of hair, to fulfillment. In addition to Heat Free Hair, we also love Curlkalon, Lavy Hair Extensions, Kurly Klips (clip-ins but throwing them in anyway), Bella Kurls Hair Extensions, and April Lace Wigs. Read more and find out pricing for each brand here.
Which brands do you recommend for straight hair?
For straight hair, we recommend brands such as Mayvenn. They have straight to curly options. Sunny’s Hair is also great; they have straight to kinky options and Boho Exotic Studio is also a stylist favorite. If you’re looking for wholesale prices, you may want to try your luck with AliExpress (read our AliExpress hair buying guide).
Did you know?
- People have used hair extensions of some kind for thousands of years, from wigs to other forms of hairpieces, including hair weaves.
- In the 1950s, an African-American hairdresser by the name of Christina Jenkins invented and patented hair weaves, changing hair care for many African-American women. She received a patent in 1951 for this process of hair weaving.
Some Tips on Maintenance
We’re going to close this thing out by providing some tips for protecting your protective style, and getting more mileage out of your new ‘do!
- Tip #1: To minimize scalp irritation from synthetic braiding hair, give the hair an apple cider vinegar bath or opt for human hair.
- Tip #2: Keep your braids healthy and hydrated with Jane Carter Solutions revitalizing leave-in conditioner. It’s super lightweight, and won’t clog follicles or cause any buildup.
- Tip #3: To get the most out of your braids, be sure to protect them at night with a Loza Tam satin-lined bonnet or turban.
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