Cornrow styles: Everything you need to know

Jeanette | 04 April 2016

Still don’t know your cornrows from your French plaits? Don’t worry. Read our essential guide to discover everything you need to know about cornrow braids.


Let’s be honest, sifting through copious amount of braids on the Internet to figure out what exactly cornrow styles are (or what makes them different from a French braid) can lead to confusion. And if you’re still unsure, don’t worry.

We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about cornrow braids and answer all the questions you’ve always wanted to ask. So what are you waiting for? Your definitive guide to cornrow hairstyles is just a scroll away…

Cornrows 101: What they are and how to get them


cornrow hairstyles: cornrow looks work on long or short hair
Cornrow styles work on long or short hair. Credit:

What are cornrows?

It can be rather confusing when the terms cornrows, canerows, and more recently, boxer braids, are used interchangeably. But no need to panic: they’re basically all the same thing. Cornrow looks are a type of flat plait that originates from Africa and the Caribbean.

As you may have guessed, the name comes from their appearance, similar to rows of cane or corn. And when someone refers to cornrows as boxer braids, they’re simply referencing the hairstyle of Maggie Fitzgerald (played by Hillary Swank) in the film Million Dollar Baby.

Why is everyone talking about them?

Even though cornrow braids aren’t a brand new hairstyle, they’ve definitely gained new popularity with A-listers and fashionistas. The likes of Kim Kardashian and crew, Hailey Baldwin, singers Katy Perry, FKA Twigs, and Rita Ora are all devotees of cornrow hairstyles!

As for the fashion world, New York-based brand Creatures of the Wind’s autumn/winter 2016 show presented some impressive cornrow styles at Fashion Week. Want to see for yourself? Then check out all the uber chic cornrow styles from the runway, here!

cornrow styles: cornrows work on all hair types
Cornrow braids work on all hair types. Credit:

How to style them

We know cornrow hairstyles can look rather daunting, but don’t let their appearance intimidate you: it’s easier than you think! In fact, it’s closely related to the Dutch braid (also known as the inverted French braid).

To create the style, start by taking 1-2 inches of hair from the top and divide it into 3 parts. Take the right section and cross it underneath the middle one, then do the same with the left section.

Now pick up hair from the sides, adding them to your strands before repeating the weaving process. Keep doing this until you reach the tip of your hair and secure with a hairband. Remember not to leave any hair in the middle, otherwise you’ll end up with a standard Dutch braid instead.

cornrow braids can be thin or thick
Cornrows can be thin or thick. Credit:

Can they damage your hair?

You don’t have to worry about cornrow styles damaging your hair – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Cornrows are a great option if you’re looking for a protective hairstyle or even to do a braid out.

Just remember to be gentle with your tresses and not to make the plait too tight, as you don’t want to end up with a tension headache or hair loss!

Should you try it?

The short answer is yes! Spotted on the street and the catwalks, this braid is a low-maintenance, practical, and durable style that works on a variety of hair lengths and types.

It’s also a hairstyle that allows for a lot of individuality: you can opt for pigtail cornrows, play around with multiple rows, or bravely experiment with different partings and shapes. Now, the real question is: will you try them out this season?


Still need some convincing to rock this braided style? Well, we just so happen to have 8 reasons to love cornrow looks, right here!

Can you spot the cornrow braid?

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