A cornrow braid is a type of plait that is woven flat to the scalp in straight rows and has a raised appearance, resembling rows of corn or sugarcane (hence their apt name). Cornrows originate from Africa and the Caribbean and are a popular protective hairstyle for both men and women with natural hair. Depending on how they are installed and maintained, they can last anywhere from 2-8 weeks, making them a popular and low-maintenance hairstyle choice.
Intrigued? Keep reading to discover the history of cornrow braids, learn how to do them with our easy video tutorial, and discover the best ways to wear them in 2021.
What Are Cornrows?
Cornrows are tight, 3 strand braids that are braided close to the scalp. Their characteristic 3D look is created by weaving the strands under one another while also picking up hair from underneath.
Cornrows are much more than a hairstyle, originating in Africa thousands of years ago (there’s evidence of them as far back as 3000 BC). Historically, braids have held a lot of meaning with different styles and patterns reflecting a person’s religion, relationship status and ranking within their community.
In 1979, American actress Bo Derek appeared in the film 10 with beaded cornrows, starting a trend for braids outside people of colour. More recently, Kim Kardashian-West wore cornrows and Fulani braids and attributed her hairstyle to Bo Derek, which many felt erased the rich African heritage of cornrows. This has led to lots of commentary and discussions about cornrows in mainstream media.
How To Cornrow Braid Your Hair
Want to know how to do cornrows on your own hair? We’ve got you covered with our easy cornrow tutorial.
Step 2. Section your hair to create a vertical row from front to back using a tail comb.
Editor’s tip: More sections equal smaller braids, larger sections will create bigger braids.
Step 3. Starting at the front of your row, take a small section of hair. Divide this small section into 3 equal pieces.
Step 4. Start the braid by crossing the left or right strand under the centre strand and then repeating with the outer strand from the other side.
Step 5. Next, repeat step 4, this time adding in additional hair to each side from underneath as you weave.
Step 6. Once you have no more hair to add from underneath, continue to do a traditional 3-strand braid until you reach the end of your hair.
Step 7. Seal off the ends with a knot or secure with an elastic.
Step 8. Repeat steps 2-7 until all of your hair is braided.
Step 9. Smooth edges with a toothbrush and the TRESemmé Botanique Air Dry Natural Hold Gel.
50 Hot Cornrow Hairstyles For 2021
Looking for your next look? Get inspired with the stylish cornrow hairstyles we’ve got on our radar for 2021.
Editor’s tip: Thinking of laying your baby hairs? If so, reach for a small brush and the 24-hour hold VO5 Firm Hold Styling Gel.
Cornrows With Extensions
Cornrow Braid Styles
The best thing about cornrows? You can work them into cute styles. From braided ponytails to these sweet space buns, you’ll never get bored. Credit: @braided__
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Fulani braids incorporate a variety of different designs and accessories, like beads and cuffs, so the combinations are endless!
If you’re afraid of committing to cornrows or just want a quicker alternative, a wig will do just the trick. Credit: @kalariggins
Side cornrows are the perfect all-occasions hairstyle for day to night and always look amazing. Credit: @onlybells_
Don’t have time to spend ages on your hair? Go for big cornrows, as they’re less time consuming and still super stylish. Credit: @unique_dandridge
The cornrow updo is a go-to for naturalistas everywhere, keeping your hair up and out of your face. Credit: @thelondoncurls
There are many different ways to style cornrows but this half-up half-down look is a popular go-to style, as it can be done in seconds.
Cornrows In A Bun
If you thought you couldn’t style your hair once it’s in cornrows, think again. These versatile braids can be worn in a variety of hairstyles, like this chic high bun for example.
If anyone is going to convince you to try cornrow plaits, it’s Jordyn Woods and her super sleek, glossy cornrows. Credit: @jordynwoods
Feed-in braids are a natural haired girl’s go-to for adding length and thickness. Credit: @laiyhoward
This classic cornrow style is super easy to do (you can even do it on yourself), and not best of all when you undo your braids, you’ll have gorgeous heat-free curls. Credit: @golden_barbie
This half-done style offers you the best of both worlds, allowing you to show off your length in a cool and practical way. Credit: @arnell.armon
Half Head Cornrows
Another hairstyle you can rock with half braids? This neat ponytail. Credit: @paris.crusoe
Two Cornrow Braids
Editor’s tip: Make braiding easy with the TONI&GUY Flexible Hold Braid Balm. Suitable to use for all braid hairstyles simply apply to damp hair or dry hair before styling.
Cornrow Hairstyles To The Side
From the laid baby hairs to the curly ends, this cornrows hairstyle is ticking all our hair boxes. Credit: @khatbrim
Cornrow Hairstyles With Beads
Give your cornrow hairstyles a Solange-approved edge with some beaded hair accessories. Credit: @ijeomakola
Cornrow Kinky Twists Styles
Fishbone Cornrow Hairstyles
If you like gorgeous and intricate braided styles, then this fishbone look is for you. While it might not be a hairstyle you can do on yourself, it’s well worth the time spent in the stylist’s chair. Credit: @xcellentxtensions
Jumbo Cornrows With Extensions
The bigger the braid, the better! Credit: @lolowood_
Mohawk Cornrow Styles
Mohican Cornrow Hairstyles
Red Cornrow Braids
What’s great about these side-swept cornrows is how neat and sleek they look. Credit: @lipstickncurls
We can’t help but fawn over this dazzling traditional cornrow hairstyle. Credit: @blackhairideas
With cornrow hairstyles there is no one size fits all. From all over braids to this centre-parted option, which style will you choose?
African Designs With Beads
Cornrow Crown Braids
Cornrow Ponytail With Bangs
Cornrows With Singles In The Back
Half Cornrows Half Afro
Create a faux undercut effect by only braiding half of your hair and letting your natural curls shine. Credit: @afrodite.hair_
Editor’s tip: Keep your natural hair hydrated with TRESemmé Botanique Nourish & Replenish Hydrating Mist. This lightweight mist is enriched with coconut milk and aloe vera which helps to smooth, condition and detangle hair.
Long Cornrows To The Side
Pigtail Cornrows With Extensions
Who says long-haired ladies get to have all the fun? Even if you’re sporting short locks, you can totally get this cornrow hairstyle with the help of extensions. Credit: @kimmichellet
Rihanna’s hair is summer-ready. The icon wore these classic straight-back cornrows to a recent event, and we can’t get over them.
Side Cornrows With Weave
Look extra fresh with this side cornrows with weave hairstyle. Adding weave will help to give your braids a fuller and longer finish that’s perfect for this style of braids. Credit: @nanasbraids
4 Layer Cornrows
We love how the mix of thick and skinny cornrow braids helps to give this style a fresh new look. Credit: @kersti.pitre
Editor’s tip: Keep your style in place with TRESemmé Botanique Natural Hold Hairspray. Specially blended with natural coconut and cactus water, this hairspray helps you to enhance your hair’s natural shape and style.
Is your go-to hairstyles a simple bun? Well, if you want to upgrade your everyday updo, why not try incorporating some cornrows into it? We spotted this nifty updo on the Valentino runway a while back, and honestly, it’s become a favourite among the All Things Hair team!
Looking for a pretty and practical hairdo that won’t take ages? Then chunky, big cornrows are definitely the way to go! They are also the perfect type of braid for fitness enthusiasts.
While cornrows can instantly add tonnes of extra interest to any look, we understand that some of you simply can’t do without bringing some added bling to your style. Which is why, you’ll be pleased to hear, that they are also the ideal canvas to many hair accessories!
We love this elegant cornrow look! It’s perfect for any occasion and bound to get you noticed.
Various Shapes and Sizes
This versatile style is all about rocking variously sized and shaped cornrows. And did we mention, it will keep your ends safely tucked away and it requires less styling on a day-to-day basis? Basically every lazy girl’s dream, right?