Learn How To Braid Cornrows (the Easy Way) + Tips & Tricks & Products!

Cornrows have been a style of braiding hair that has been around for centuries. And with that much time around you’d think it would be something that’s easily picked up. But making the correct parting, finding the best tension, and deciding which technique to used to cornrow hair can make it difficult to learn, whether you’re a beginner at doing hair or a professional hairstylist. To combat this learning curve and help everyone learn how to do this fundamental hairstyle, we’ve made this how-to guide, complete with some tips and tricks so you too can braid with the best of them.

woman with Cornrow hair

Cornrows are the name of the style that comes from hair that’s braided flat against the scalp. The term itself stems from the nineteenth century. During that time, most Black Americans worked in agriculture to provide for their families. In America, we use this term because they remind us of cornfields. In the Caribbean, however, they are called canerows because they resemble sugar canes.

Cornrows are a traditional way of styling hair in various global areas but mainly attributed to Africa. Depictions of women with them have been found in Stone Age paintings in the Sahara, and have been dated as far back as 3000 B.C. The tradition of female hairstyling like this has remained popular throughout Africa, particularly in the Horn of Africa and West Africa. Historically, male styling with them can be traced as far back as the early nineteenth century to Ethiopia, where warriors and kings such as Tewodros II and Yohannes IV were depicted wearing them.

Cornrow hairstyles in Africa indicated what tribe you belonged to, and it also covered a wide social terrain such as religion, kinship, marital status, age, ethnicity, wealth, and other attributes of identity can all be expressed in this hairstyle. Just as important is the act of braiding, which transmits cultural values between generations, expresses bonds between friends, and establishes the role of a professional practitioner.

They made a comeback in the 1960s and '70s during the Civil Rights and Black Power movement when people of African descent were looking to find more about their heritage. In the 80s the popularity of them waned thanks to the jheri curl, but during the '90s the style experienced a resurgence when celebrities like NBA basketball player Allen Iverson re-popularized this hairstyle.

How To Cornrow


  • Rat Tail Comb
  • Hair gel or Edge Control
  • Hair Elastics

Step By Step

  • 1
    Clean and moisturize your hair before starting this hairstyle.
  • 2
    Detangle your hair so it will be easier to braid and keep the braids neat.
  • 3
    Stretch your hair through whichever method you prefer again to keep the braids from tangling and keeping them neat.
  • 4
    Section off the part of hair you want to braid. The smaller the section is, the smaller the braid your braid will be. Then tie the rest of the hair away with either a clip or hair tie, so you don't accidentally grab that hair and braid it in.
  • 5
    Take the section of hair you just parted off and at the hairline place some edge control on it and section off a small section going horizontally.
  • 6
    Take the small horizontal section and divide it into three strands of hair. Each part serves as a leg of your braid
  • 7
    With your right hand, you should have your index finger, middle finger, and thumb on one strand and the other two strands of hair will be in your left hand.
  • 8
    The outer strand will be held by the middle finger and the thumb
  • 9
    The middle strand will be held by the index finger and thumb
  • 10
    Take the index of the right hand, put it behind the middle strand of hair and over the outer left strand of hair.
  • 11
    With your right index finger over the outer left strand of hair, grab that strand and use your thumb to pick also up some hair from behind.
  • 12
    Holding the outer left strand between your right index finger and thumb, pull it under the middle strand.
  • 13
    What was previously the middle strand should now be on the outer left and what was the outer left should now be in the middle.
  • 14
    You should be holding two strands of hair in your right hand and 1 in your left.
  • 15
    Now, take the index finger of the left hand and put it under the middle and over the outer right strand.
  • 16
    With your left index finger over the outer right strand of hair grab it and use your thumb to pick up hair.
  • 17
    Now pull the outer right strand of hair under the middle.
  • 18
    Repeat this process until you get to the nape of the head.
  • 19
    If there is more hair to braid, you can continue braiding it in a single braid and secure it with a hair elastic.


  • Use edge control or gel to keep the hairline clean looking and to avoid flyaways or fuzzy looking hair.
  • When parting the hair make sure the part you makes follows the natural curve of your hairline around your ear.
  • Make sure the parted section of hair is the same thickness throughout so the braid is even.
  • Make sure each section is detangled before your braid it.

Cornrows On Less Textured Hair

Cornrows on Less Textured Hair

Hair that has a texture to it such as kinky curly hair can hold braids much better than hair that has a silkier texture or hair that is completely straight. However that does not mean that straighter hair or less textured hair cannot be cornrowed, a few extra tricks will have to be used to achieve the style.

Mist the hair before you start braiding and add some type of protein wax for the hair. This will help the hair grab on and hold the braid together. After that, you will then follow the steps mentioned above, and you can easily achieve the same look.

Radical Braids: Modern Cornrow Styles

Modern Cornrow Styles

Although cornrows have a long history behind them, the styling of them has been changed to fit the eras when they’re popular. Some modern trends among wearing cornrow are wearing them in big braids, 2 and 4 cornrow hairstyles, to the side, and cornrow ponytails and buns.

Big Rows

Big Rows

This style presents a perfect solution for everyday, routine hairstyle. These braids demand careful attention to the details, but the sheer size of them allows for saving time and energy. Also, large braids are almost always easier to style and maintain. Besides, when you take the braids out your hair will have a beautiful wave to them without having to use any heat.

2 And 4

2 and 4

A  pair of long cornrows is pretty easy to braid because there isn't much detail in it. But the 2 cornrow style gives a sophisticated and elegant look. 4 big ones look just as stunning, and you can get various ornaments added to your hair thanks to the way you braid it. Beautiful decorative elements on the top of one's head look especially stylish when inspired by countless pictures of world celebrities and beauty bloggers.

The Side Row

The Side Row cornrows

While classical long cornrows cover the entire scalp, a more modern take on this style is to wear the braids to the side of your head. Meticulously done, these weaved strands almost look like a side mohawk with some spice. But you don't have to wear all of your hair braided for this look. You can easily just braid some hair on one side of your head giving a little excitement to your look.

Cornrow Ponytail And Bun Hairstyles

Cornrow Ponytail and Bun Hairstyles

While a lot of cornrow styles are worn down, a cornrow ponytail or bun never hurt anybody. Your hair can be braided up towards the center of your head so you can wear them in a neat ponytail, or an extravagant bun. You can even have your hair done in a way to mimic space buns or Princess Leia’s buns if you want. Bringing them up into ponytails presents an equally chic way to achieve sleek and neat hairstyles.

5 Best Cornrow Products To Use


Alikay Naturals - Shea Yogurt Hair Moisturizer 8oz
  • Helps manageability
  • Provide healthy beautiful hair
  • reduces moisture loss

Prepping your hair with a moisturizer before braiding will keeps it healthy and manageable while the braids are in.

Edge Control/ Gel

Design Essentials Sleek Edge Control For Relaxed & Natural Hairs - 2.3...
  • Provides a firm hold to tame unruly hair
  • Moisturizes and smoothens hair Edges
  • Provides a beautiful finished polish to hair styles with an intense shine

This is great for slicking down baby hair in the morning or after working out to revive your look, and it'll keep hair sleek and in place.

Spray Leave-In Conditioner

Aveeno Nourish+ Condition Leave-In Treatment, Replenish Damaged Hair,...
  • 5.2-fluid ounce bottle of conditioning leave-in treatment
  • Helps revitalize, condition, and moisturize
  • For dry, damaged hair

Get the moisture without the frizz with a super light leave-in conditioning spray. Leave in conditioner spray can also help to refresh your braids and help keep them smelling great.

Hair Oil

Cliganic USDA Organic Jojoba Oil, 100% Pure (4oz Large) | Natural Cold...
  • CERTIFIED ORGANIC JOJOBA OIL by USDA - the strict oversight of USDA ensures the integrity of our Organic Cold Pressed...
  • 100% PURE, ONLY ONE INGREDIENT - Our Premium Jojoba Oil Organic is 100% Pure & Natural – No Additives, No Alcohol, No...
  • CLIGANIC 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE - RISK FREE! We put a lot of effort into manufacturing quality products that will...

Putting oil on your braids will make them, but it is also useful on your scalp. It will lock in moisture and give new growth some elasticity when the braids start to tug at the roots and with your exposed to the elements more because of the parting, the oil will help keep it healthy and protected.

Hair Serum

Herstyler Hair Repair Serum - Argan Oil Hair Serum, Vitamin E Hair...
  • MANE MAKEOVER - This hair shine serum transforms dry, damaged hair leaving it lush and glossy. What’s more is that...
  • IMPROVES LUSTER - The novel mix of Aloe and Argan oil extracts work in this de-frizz hair product leave your tresses...
  • COMPLETE HAIR CARE SOLUTION - This hair smoothing serum is a complete hair styling solution. It reduces frizz, tames...

Whether you have hair added in or not, smoothing the ends of your braids can instantly refresh your style.


Learning to cornrow hair will open you up to a world of versatile and trendy hairstyles. With some practice and this guide, you will be creating beautiful and intricate cornrows in no time.

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Last update on 2021-03-06 at 17:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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