Figuring out how much hair to buy can be a pain! Life’s already a puzzle, so we figured we’d help 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 how many packs or bundles you’ll need and share our mobile hairstylists’ favorite go-to brands. (Yup, we have an at-home hairstyling service currently serving NYC, check it out here).
Side Bar: Braiding Hair Brands We Love
- X-pression by Outre: Their pre-stretched braiding hair is a great time-saver and it has a softer quality than cheaper kanekalon fibers.
- EZ Braid Professional: The only brand on the market that’s made with patented Spectra fiber which is itch-free, and won’t cause scalp irritation.
- FreeTress: A great line of pre-curled and braided, pre-looped crochet hair.
- Boho Locs: Is a great line of natural looking goddess locs that we love!
- Janet Collection: Great for pre-braided locs, braids, Mambo twists and human braiding hair.
- African Collection: We love their pre-curled crochet hair.
Sometimes The Answer Can Vary
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. So for weaves and crochets for example, do you want Diana Ross-type volume, a super-sleek look or something in between? It’s a lot to think about, but 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.
As for braids, there may be slight differences in texture and bulk among Kanekalon (synthetic) hair fibers, but for the most part, the standard weight manufacturers put in each pack of hair usually ranges between 3-4 ounces.
What Type of Hair Should I Buy?
Before we get into how much hair to buy, let’s first start by answering what type of hair to buy! The market is littered with tons of braiding hair brands but the two brands in particular that stand out above the rest for cornrows and box braids; are X-pression by Outre pre-stretched braiding hair and EZ Braid Professional (also pre-stretched).
The main difference between X-pression and other kanekalon brands on the market is its length, the amount of hair in the pack, and its silkier texture. However, it is still a synthetic fiber which means it may have been coated in Alkaline Lye during production, which is what causes scalp irritation for those who have sensitive skin. To avoid this, we recommend soaking the hair in a large bowl of warm water with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water and let dry.
EZ Braid Professional on the other hand, is made of Spectra fiber—a patented no-itch, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal fiber that mimics human hair. It’s super-soft to the touch, and did we mention, it does not itch?
How Much Hair Should I Buy For Braids?
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. They’re just so versatile and an easy protective style. Traditional or knotless box braids are probably the trickiest style when it comes to buying hair. You can get them super long, down to your hip/waist or just under your chin. Not to mention the various sizes of the braid. (Check out our in-depth box braid style guide).
Note: The number of packs in this table is based on the 3-in-1 packs of X-pression by Outre and EZ Braid Professional. If you can only find a 2-in-1 pack such as African Collection’s X-pression pre-stretched hair, add 1-2 packs to the quantities above. 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.
Box Braids With Wavy Ends
If you’re interested in getting boho box braids with the wavy ends a.k.a “Zoe Kravitz Box Braids,” you can achieve them with human hair bundles. If you’re price-sensitive, you can opt for a premium synthetic brand like X-pression by Outre and curl the ends with perm rods and hot water. Another option to save time is feeding in a couple packs of FreeTress loose deep braiding hair towards the ends and, voila! Boho chic.
Note: The number of packs in this table is based on the 3-in-1 packs of X-pression by Outre and EZ Braid Professional. If you can only find a 2-in-1 pack such as African Collection’s X-pression, add 1-2 packs to the quantities above.
Reminder: Don’t forget to purchase 2-3 packs of FreeTress loose deep braiding hair to achieve the wavy ends. Ask your stylist to feed them in towards the ends.
Let’s keep things moving, shall we? Maybe you’re thinking about keeping things simple with basic feed-in 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 Fulani braids you can purchase one 3-in-1 pack of X-pression By Outre pre-stretched braiding or 2-3 packs of their singular packs. Same goes for the EZ Braid Professional brand. If you can only find a 2-in-1 pack such as African Collection’s X-pression you’ll need two packs.
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. You can purchase one 3-in-1pack of X-pression By Outre pre-stretched braiding or 2-3 packs of their singular packs. Same goes for the EZ Braid Professional brand. If you can only find a 2-in-1 pack such as African Collection’s X-pression you’ll need two packs.
For a braided updo, you can purchase one 3-in-1pack of X-pression By Outre pre-stretched braiding or 2-3 packs of their singular packs. Same goes for the EZ Braid Professional brand. If you can only find a 2-in-1 pack such as African Collection’s X-pression you’ll need two packs.
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 Should I Buy 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 5-6 packs.
How Much Hair Should I Buy For a Weave?
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.
A Full Weave Install
- If you’re buying packs, two 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 three bundles should do, but you may use 2-4, depending on fullness and length. Generally, for long or full hair, four bundles is usually best.
- For a partial install, short hair or a sleek (not full) look, you could probably get away with two bundles. But when in doubt go for the magic number, three and get more than you need if you can afford to. 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 three packs of hair
- Shorter bundles like 10 and 12 inches typically have longer tracks which means you’re getting 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.
Kinky Hair Brands We Recommend
Heat Free Hair produces 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.
Straight Brands We Recommend
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 a stylist favorite (update: The recently announced wholesale prices to all!) 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 a word of caution and some tips for protecting your protective style, to get more mileage out of your new ‘do!
- Tip #1: Keep the hair under all of your protective hairstyles fresh with Girl+Hair’s complete underhair care system. The first product line specifically for maintaining the hair under your protective styles. Genius!
- Tip #2: Give your hair a break from protective styles from time to time. At least 4-6 consecutive weeks is our recommendation. Opt for natural hairstyles such as a twist out during your time off.
- Tip #3: To avoid major scalp irritation from synthetic braiding hair, give it an apple cider vinegar wash first or be sure to always use EZ Braid Professional—the only brand on the market that’s made with patented Spectra fiber which is itch-free and antibacterial.
- Tip #4: 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 #5: To get the most out of your braids, be sure to protect them at night with a Loza Tam satin-lined bonnet or turban.