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

Cornrows are a style of braiding that has been around for centuries. With them being around for so long, 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 use can be difficult to learn.


To combat this learning curve and help everyone learn how to braid cornrows, we’ve put together this helpful guide.


This is meant to help both beginners in the arts of hair braiding and also more specialized readers.

Besides learning how to braid cornrows, you will also find out more about the various types of cornrows, and also get a list of products you can safely use to get the best results, and many others.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

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What Is A Cornrow?

A Brief History Of Style

woman with cornrows leaning by a wall

Cornrows are the name of a style of braiding where you braid the hair flat against the scalp. The term itself stems from the 19th century.

During that time, most Black Americans worked in agriculture to provide for their families.

  • In America, we use this term because it reminds 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 parts of the globe but are mainly attributed as being of African origins.

Depictions of women wearing them have been found in Stone Age paintings in the Sahara, and have been dated as far back as 3,000 B.C.

Historically, male cornrows styling can be traced as far back as the early 19th century to Ethiopia, where warriors and kings such as Tewodros II and Yohannes IV were depicted wearing them.

Cornrows in Modern Times

The tradition of women styling their hair into cornrows has remained popular throughout Africa, particularly in the Horn of Africa and West Africa.

Cornrow hairstyles in Africa indicate(d) what tribe you belonged to, and also covered a wide social terrain such as:

  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • Kinship
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Wealth
  • Other attributes of identity that can all be expressed by 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.

Cornrows made a comeback in the 1960s and 1970s during the Civil Rights and Black Power movement when people of African descent were looking to find out more about their heritage.

In the ’80s, their popularity waned partly due to the Jheri curl, but during the ’90s the cornrows experienced a resurgence when celebrities like NBA basketball player Allen Iverson re-popularized this hairstyle.

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How To Braid Cornrows:

Tools:

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

Step By Step Tutorial:

  1. Clean and moisturize your hair before anything else.
  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, this will keep the braids from tangling and keep them neat.
  4. Section off the part of hair you want to braid. The smaller the section, the smaller your braid will be.
  5. Then tie the rest of the hair away with either a clip or a hair tie so you don’t accidentally grab that hair and braid it in.
  6. 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.
  7. Take the small horizontal section and divide it into three strands of hair. Each part serves as a leg of your braid.
  8. 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 remain in your left hand.
  9. The outer strand will be held by the middle finger and the thumb.
  10. The middle strand will be held by the index finger and thumb.

Now:

  1. Put your right index finger behind the middle strand of hair and over the outer left strand of hair.
  2. With your right index finger over the outer left strand of hair, grab that strand and use your thumb to also pick up some hair from behind.
  3. Holding the outer left strand between your right index finger and thumb, pull it under the middle strand.
  4. 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.
  5. You should be holding two strands of hair in your right hand and 1 in your left.
  6. Now, take the index finger of the left hand and put it under the middle and over the outer right strand.
  7. With your left index finger over the outer right strand of hair, grab it and use your thumb to pick up more hair.
  8. Now pull the outer right strand of hair under the middle.
  9. Repeat this process until you get to the nape of the head.
  10. If there is more hair to braid, you can continue braiding it in a single braid, and then secure it with a hair elastic.

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Tips:

  • 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 make follows the natural curve of your hairline around your ear.
  • Make sure the parted section of hair is the same thickness throughout – this will help keep the braid even.
  • Make sure each section is detangled before you start braiding it.

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Cornrows On Less Textured Hair

woman with cornrows on less textured hair

Kinky textured hair is more likely to hold braids (and hold them well) when compared to hair with a silkier texture or hair that is completely straight.

However, that does not mean that straighter hair or less textured hair cannot be cornrowed.

There are some tips and tricks that will help you learn how to braid cornrows even into these types of hair.

  • 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 have to follow the same steps mentioned above, and you can be sure you will easily achieve the same look.

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Radical Braids: Modern Cornrow Styles

modern cornrows in a bun

Cornrows have a long history behind them, and yet, they have always managed to remain on-trend. How?

Because their styling continuously changed to fit the eras in which they were popular.

When learning how to braid cornrows, you should also keep that in mind. To help you, we’ll point that among the modern trends, it has now become fashionable to wear cornrows in:

  • Big braids
  • 2 and 4 cornrow hairstyles
  • Swept to the side
  • In cornrows ponytails
  • In cornrow buns

Now, let’s take a closer look at the contemporary ways in which you can wear cornrows!

1. Big Rows

big cornrows

This style presents a perfect solution for an everyday, routine hairstyle.

These braids demand careful attention to details, but the sheer size of them will save you time and energy in the long run.

Also, large braids are almost always easier to style and maintain.

Besides, when you decide to take your hair out of these braids, it will look beautifully wavy and all natural, no heat required!

2. Cornrows in 2 And 4

how to braid cornrows in 2 and 4 strands
  • 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 celebrities and beauty bloggers.

3. The Side Row

the man side 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 extra 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.

4. Cornrows Ponytail And Bun Hairstyle

colored cornrows in ponytail and bun style

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 either wear it in a neat ponytail or in an extravagant bun.

You can even have your hair done in a way to mimic space buns or Princess Leia’s buns if you so want to.

Bringing them up into ponytails presents an equally chic way to achieve sleek and neat hairstyles.

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5 Best Products To Use to Care for Your Cornrows!

1. Moisturizer

Alikay Naturals - Shea Yogurt Hair Moisturizer 8oz
  • ALIKAY NATURALS: Raw Shea Butter: Emollient properties seals moisture into hair, reduces moisture loss, contains...
  • MADE FROM PURE NATURAL INGREDIENT: Argan Oil: Revives dull dry hair, Reduces frizz, Enhances elasticity, Renews luster...
  • Quality ingredients is at the core of who Alikay Naturals is as a beauty & lifestyle brand. Coconut Oil: Rich in fatty...

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

2. Edge Control/ Gel

Design Essentials Sleek Edge Control for Firm Hold and Styling- 2.3oz
  • 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 a great product to use if you want to slick down baby hair in the morning. It’s also useful if you want to revive your look after a workout.

In general, a gel or edge control will keep your hair sleek and in place.

3. 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 refresh your braids and help keep them smelling great.

4. Hair Oil

USDA Organic Jojoba Oil, 100% Pure (4oz Large) | Natural Cold Pressed...
  • 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 Chemicals, No...
  • CLIGANIC 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE - RISK FREE! We put a lot of effort into manufacturing quality products that will...

Hair oil is useful both when braiding your hair and for your scalp. It will lock in moisture and give new growth some elasticity. It will help even as the braids start tugging at the roots of your hair.

Also, hair oil will help keep your hair healthy and protected, which is very important as your roots will be more exposed to the elements because of the parting of your braids.

5. Hair Serum

Herstyler Hair Repair Serum | Argan Oil Hair Serum, Vitamin E Hair...
  • INSTANTLY GLORIOUS MANE: This hair shine serum transforms the appearance of dry, damaged hair into a luxuriant mane....
  • IMPROVES LUSTER: The novel mix of Aloe Vera and Argan Oil extracts work in tandem to get your tresses soft, shiny and...
  • COMPLETE HAIR CARE SOLUTION: This hair smoothing serum is a complete hair styling treatment as it reduces the appearance...

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

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So, What Is YOUR Hair Motivation?

Learning how to braid cornrows will open a world of braiding possibilities for you! A very versatile and trendy world, at that.

With some practice and this guide, you will be creating beautiful and intricate cornrows in no time!

Which one of these modern cornrow styles is your favorite? And have you got any tips of your own on how to braid cornrows? Leave a comment and let us know!

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