Braids

Cornrow Styles for Women: 6 Looks for Any Hair Type

Cornrow styles and inspiration for everyone. Do it for the culture! 

There’s something inherently cool about cornrows for women. On natural hair textures, they’re an effective protective option, as well as a fun, sassy hairstyle in itself rich in cultural heritage. On other hair types, they’re a great spin on your regular braid and provides textural interest to an updo or pigtail.

Nowadays, a lot of looks that feature cornrow styles for women are also considered Dutch braids or boxer braids. This is particularly true when worn outside of the natural hair community. Regardless of what they’re called, however, our inner obsessive-compulsive can’t help but love the neat, symmetrical look of cornrows, and love how they amp up an otherwise bare ponytail base as well.

Before we get into our current favorite cornrow styles on and off the runway, here’s a very brief history lesson on cornrow braids: Cornrows are a traditional African style worn by females and males. Many wear their hair in this braided style as an homage to the tradition, as a protective hairstyle, or simply just for the look. Whatever your reason for trying your hand at the look is your choice. Read on to get inspired by these cool cornrow braid styles below:

Look We Love: Cornrow Styles for Women

cornrow styles for women pulled back
Cornrows are super-chic, as seen via its simplest expression with a bun. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

1. Cornrows with High Bun

Teamed with a high bun, cornrows for women look exceptionally fashionable. To achieve the look, blend the braids with loose hair to form a texturized chignon that can sit high on the crown (weave the braids downwards till your nape, and you’ll have to wear a lower bun instead). Leave a few tendrils loose at the sideburns to soften the look, and slick down your edges with some hairspray.

cornrows for women helmet plait
A helmet plait is a directional take on the Dutch braid. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

2. Helmet Plait

Definitely directional, a cornrow that snakes around your head and connects to a unicorn cornrow at the middle, effectively forming a helmeted look, is a daring version to try if you’re all about that fashion-forward life. Not only reserved for the high runways, we love this big cornrows style especially during festival season, where your braid takes the place of that (kinda ubiquitous) floral crown. It’s a bit medieval, a bit boho, and all-out confident. Leave the ends loose or tie them together in a low ponytail.

cornrows for women three sections
Perfect for keeping hair away from your face in a stylish manner. Photo credit: Verity Jane Smith

3. Low Bun

A sporty take on the more fashion-y high bun, cornrows with a low bun are crisp and no-nonsense. The three-section version features more hair per section and gives each plait a thicker, fuller look, making this ideal for those with thinner hair. To achieve, create three sections—left, middle and right—and begin creating your cornrow with a Dutch-braiding technique (cross each strip under the middle strip). Continue until you run out of scalp near the neckline, and tie all plaits together into one low chignon.

cornrows for women threaded beads
A threaded version lends a tropical touch to the look. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

4. Threaded Cornrow Hairstyle

Adding embellishments, such as beads, threads or woven-in ribbons, are a nifty way to jazz up cornrows for women. These tiny accessories pack quite a cute punch and give a bit of an indie, boho feel to the look. They’re especially on-point for the beach or during the summer, where hairstyles take on a slightly whimsical, more playful feel. You can DIY this hairstyle with a knitting needle after you’ve created your plaits, and then wrap the thread around the plait, ballet-shoe-style, once you’ve passed the nape.

cornrows for women faux side shave
Fake an undercut with a clever side cornrow. Photo credit: Faraz Essani Photography

5. Side Cornrows Hairstyle

Wearing cornrows on one side of your head is a clever way to mimic a shaven or undercut look without the commitment. This is a cool option to try if you’re new to the style, or if you want a subtler take. You can even wear the look in a more corporate environment by hiding it under your thicker hair section, then flipping hair back over once happy hour rolls around. Great with voluminous, almost faux-hawky volume on top, have your cornrow snake under and across your hairline, secure with a tiny hair tie, and pin under your opposite ear.

model wearing a cornrow braided updo
Wear this cornrow braided ponytail to a party or even a formal event. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

6. Middle Cornrow Braided Ponytail

To create this chic runway cornrow style, blow-dry your hair until straight then prep clean hair TRESemmé Get Sleek Heat Protection Spray to ensure you’ll get a sleek and super straight finish.Section off the middle portion of your hair and clip it away. Use a gel like Nexxus Exxtra Hold Sculpting Gel to smooth your hair into a clean low ponytail.

Release your top section then create a skinny part and begin to plait hair into a thin French braid all the way to the ends. If you have slippery hair, use a molding wax to help create grip like S Factor by TIGI Creamy Molding Wax. Continue this process until the entire section is braided then wrap the ends of your braids around the base of your ponytail and pin in place then set your style with a hairspray.

Looking for more braided hairstyle ideas like these cornrow hair looks? Check out our ultimate guide to braiding hair.

All Things Hair
All Things Hair
20 April 2017

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