Guide to Cornrows: Everything You Need to Know and More

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 about cornrows. Sifting through all of the braids on the Internet trying to figure out what exactly cornrows are can lead to confusion. And if you’re still unsure, don’t worry because you’re not alone. We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about cornrows and answer all the questions you’ve always wanted to ask. So what are you waiting for? Keep reading for a definitive guide to everything about cornrow and natural hairstyles:

1. What are cornrows?

cornrows natural hair bun
Cornrow styles work on long or short hair. Photo credit:

It can be confusing when the terms cornrows, cornrows and more recently, boxer braids, are used so interchangeably. But there’s really 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.

2. How to style them

We know cornrow hairstyles can look a little bit 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.

To create the style, start by taking one to two inches of hair from the top and divide it into three 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 ends of your hair and secure it with a hairband. Remember not to leave any hair in the middle. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a standard Dutch braid instead.

large cornrows low bun in the back
Cornrows can be thin or thick. Photo credit:

3. Can cornrows 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. You just have to remember to be gentle with your tresses and not to make the braid too tight so you don’t end up with a tension headache or hair loss! A great way to protect your strands during this process, give them extra hydration, and nourish them is by combing a leave-in conditioner into your strands before you braid. We suggest Suave Professionals Avocado+Olive Oil Smoothing Leave-In Conditioning Cream to nourish and hydrate your hair.

4. Should you try cornrows?

Absolutely! We’ve spotted this look on the streets and the catwalks: this braid is a low-maintenance, practical, fashionable, and durable style that works on a range 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.

Lock in as much moisture as possible leading up to your braiding appointment by washing your hair with Love Beauty and Planet Purposeful Hydration Shea Butter & Sandalwood Shampoo and Love Beauty and Planet Purposeful Hydration Shea Butter & Sandalwood Conditioner.

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Step 1

Wash your hair with the Love Beauty and Planet Hope and Repair Coconut Oil & Ylang Ylang Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner and comb through to remove tangles.

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 your hair. Divide this small section into 3 equal pieces.

Step 4

Start the braid by crossing the left or right strand under the center strand and then repeating with the outer strand from the other side.

Step 5

Next, repeat step 4, this time adding 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 TRES Two Extra Firm Control Gel.

1. Cornrows In A Bun

Cornrow updo
Cornrows in a bun can be worn halfway or with full cornrow braids. Photo and hair by @nielascurls.

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.

2. Cornrow Hairstyles To The Side

Curly side cornrows
The perfect summer cornrows style. Hair by @braidedbytee on @khatbrim

From the laid baby hairs to the curly ends, this cornrows hairstyle is ticking all our hair boxes.

3. Chunky Cornrows

Jumbo cornrows
Simple and classic jumbo braids Photo byVerity Jane Smith

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.

4. Accessorized Cornrows

beaded cornrow, runway model
Beads are a timeless accessory for cornrows and can be styled in so many ways Photo Credit:

While cornrows can instantly add tons of extra interest to any look, we understand that some of you simply can’t do without bringing some added bling to your style. This is why, you’ll be pleased to hear, that they are also the ideal canvas for many hair accessories!

5. Tribal Cornrows

traditional tribal cornrows
Rock these tribal braids look! Photo by Terricks Noah

We can’t help but fawn over this dazzling traditional African cornrow hairstyle.

6. Middle-Part Cornrows

middle part cornrows, medium size
Medium-sized, middle-part cornrows are great for everyday wear. Photo from @yaakankam

With cornrow hairstyles there is no one size fits all. From all-over braids to this center-parted option, which style will you choose?

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