Cornrow Hairstyle Ideas to Try Now

January 23, 2023
By: Catharine Malzahn | by L'Oréal
Close-up photo of black and blonde cornrows in a bun

Cornrows are one of the most versatile and easy-to-wear hairstyles out there. They’re a low-maintenance way to protect your hair and are perfect if you like to keep styling time to a minimum. Thanks to so many fun ways to style cornrow braids, you can let your personality shine through with your favorite hair design. Ahead, celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble breaks down all things cornrows: what they are, how to wear them and what styles to try right now. 

What Are Cornrows?

Cornrows are a well-known style of braiding. They originated on the continent of Africa centuries ago and have remained popular since then. A symbol of resistance, they were also used as maps for slaves to escape, and some would also hide rice or small seeds in the braids. More than just a fashion statement, these braids have a long history and mesh African heritage with modern style.

Who Are Cornrows For?

“A wide variety of people can wear cornrows, especially those who want to show off their great hairline,” says Kimble. “For kinky, curly hair, it’s easier to do cornrows.”

Because it’s a technique of braiding on your scalp, using a pomade gives har hold and makes the braids last longer. Kimble recommends her Kim Kimble Edge Taming Pomade to sculpt and rehydrate your hair.

How to Install Cornrows

Before you begin braiding, setting up a solid foundation for your hair is important. Moisturized hair makes for easier braiding and less frizz. Try hydrating your hair with the Garnier Fructis Curl Air Dry Butter Cream Leave-in Treatment before getting started.

After your hair is prepped with a leave-in conditioner, it’s time to get creative. Part your hair for each section of braids; depending on how many braids you’d like and how thick or thin you’d like them to be will determine how you part each section.

Next, divide each section into three parts and begin braiding. Not confident in your braiding skills? Find a reputable braider in your hometown, who will be able to do all the intricate designs you can dream of. 

Garnier Fructis Curl Air Dry Cream

Cornrow Hairstyle Ideas

“It's so cool to see the many different [braid] styles they have now,” says Kimble. “My favorites are the classic straight backs, and cool designs like hearts and stars and flowers.” Here are a few of our favorites.

Straight Back Cornrows

Classic straight back cornrow braids are simple, straightforward and never go out of style. Devoid of any extravagant designs or patterns, they are just as their name would describe them: straight back. If you want to add a touch of pizazz, try styling your baby hair, too.

Cornrow Buns

These double-buns are a cute and playful way to style your cornrows. Add definition to the curls left loose around your face with a lightweight gel or mousse — the Carol’s Daughter Wash Day Delight Hair Gel to Foam Styler Aloe combines both products in one.

Feed in Cornrows

Unlike traditional cornrows, feed in cornrows require you to add synthetic hair to your natural hair to create the appearance of thicker braids. If you want your hair to look seamless, get synthetic hair that matches your natural color. But if you’re feeling playful, you can get different colored synthetic hair to rock highlights, lowlights, color or even rainbow style cornrows.

Cornrow Ponytail

A cornrow ponytail is a simple and sleek way to keep your hair out of your face. The slicked-back style is the perfect excuse to get creative with your edges.

Are Cornrows Good or Bad for Your Hair?

Cornrows protect your hair and remove the need for heat styling or chemical treatments. But there are a few caveats to remember when rocking the style.

“Cornrows are considered a protective hairstyle,” says Kimble. “They can be good [for your hair] as long as it is done correctly. Find a good braider and make sure the braids aren’t too tight.”

However, it’s important to give your hair a complete break sometimes.The American Academy of Dermatology suggests avoiding wearing hairstyles that pull on your hairline too much. They recommended giving your hair a chance to recover when changing styles and to wear loose braids or go braid-free every couple months to prevent hair loss.

If you love the look of braids but don’t want to place too much tension on your edges and scalp, go for a knotless style

How Long Can Cornrows Last?

The duration of your cornrows depends on your hair, if you have extensions and your hair maintenance routine. On average though, they’ll last “one to three weeks,” says Kimble.

To help minimize frizz and keep your cornrows in longer, she recommends applying a shine spray, like L’Oréal Paris Advanced Haircare Nutri-Gloss Shine Mist and Kim Kimble Movie Set Mousse, before styling. 

Another trick to keep your cornrows looking fresher longer is to top them with a silk cap or scarf when you sleep. A silk pillowcase is also a great investment to make to keep your cornrows looking smooth. 

Photo: Shutterstock

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