Cornrows or braids, also known as canerows, are a simple style of hair braiding that’s been around for — well, forever. History tells us they originated in Africa, with the earliest recorded usage (on women) dating back to at least 3000 B.C.
Fast-forward to now and they’re one of the most popular hairstyles ever; they’re easy to maintain, look fabulous and can promote hair growth. Also, unlike some other styles, you can wear them year-round!
But that’s not all; with cornrows, you can quickly style afro hair without spending an hour or two each day, benefit from a style that can last weeks, and give your hair a much-needed break from styling.
7 Beautiful Cornrow Styles:
There are plenty of different cornrow styles to choose from: simple small cornrows, cornrows with a large bun, Ghana braids, cornrows with natural hair — the list goes on.
So to give you a little inspiration before styling your afro hair, we’ve put together our seven favourite cornrow styles. Check them out below!
Big Cornrow Braids
This cornrow style is eye-catching, bold and takes no time at all. By braiding in bigger plaits, you can be in and out of the saloon before you know it.
Definitely a cool statement hairstyle. This style involves weaving hair into little fishbones along with larger braids. You can also do it with shorter braids, too.
This cornrow style has been around for a long time and originates from the Fula (or Fulani) tribe in West Africa.
This style consists of a cornrow down the centre of the head, weaved from front to back. On the sides are one or two cornrows with long hair extensions (if necessary). There’s also a braid around the head. You can then add any beads or accessories or even pair Fulani braids with other styles.
Using side braids you can easily create a ‘fake’ undercut or side-swept hairstyle. These braids start at the hairline and move upwards towards the crown of the head — giving them a distinct appearance.
Thin and Thick Braids
Bring together the best of both worlds with this afro hairstyle and create a really cool pattern. It’s simple but stylish and can be changed easily to provide some great looks.
Cornrows and Natural Hair
Mix up your look with both cornrows and natural hair. This look will allow you to show off your braiding skills alongside your beautiful natural hair. You can even use accessories to create a statement look.
Half Up, Half Down
This style mixes cornrow braids with single braids to create a half up, half down hairstyle. It can be done as a feed-in hairstyle or with your natural hair.
4 Top Tips for Caring for Cornrow Styles
Like with all afro hairstyles, cornrows come with some challenges. Done too tightly they can lead to hair breakage and traction alopecia (which is caused by the tight, constant pulling of hair).
With that in mind, there are a few things you can do to look after your hair and make sure your cornrows look their best days after you have them done.
1. Use a Sulphate-free Shampoo
While your hair is cornrowed, use a sulphate-free shampoo (this will ensure your hair isn’t stripped of its natural oils and won't leave any build-up or residue). Wet your hair, use a small amount of shampoo and press it into your scalp as opposed to massaging it. This will help keep your cornrows together.
2. Moisturise Regularly
When you moisturise your cornrows, you’ll reduce breakage, make your afro hair look smooth and shiny, and strengthening the hair shaft. Ideally, you’ll want to use a little moisturising cream to hydrate your hair. Look for something light as this will help you avoid build-up and won't leave residue in your hair. Try to moisturise your hair at least twice a week.
3. Refresh Your Hair
You’ll want to use a moisturising spray to refresh your cornrows and an oil to maintain the health of your scalp.
Look for natural water-based moisturisers — like our Sheen Natural Moisturising Spray — as these will be easier to apply, much more effective and gentle on your afro hair. And make sure you pick a lightweight oil that can easily be absorbed— like our Soothe - Natural Scalp Oil.
4. Wrap Your Head Before Bed
This one’s super important. After washing, conditioning and moisturising your afro hair, you’ll want to lock it all in. Cotton pillows can soak up your hair’s moisture, leading to split ends and dry scalp in the morning. Make sure to wrap your head before bed using a silk or satin lined bonnet. They’re breathable and won’t absorb your hair’s moisture.
As with any other afro hairstyle, how you care for your cornrows is incredibly important and crucial to their longevity — this means having a good routine and the right products.
Hopefully, with the tips above (and a few of our favourite styles) you now have an idea of how to look after your cornrows and all the fabulous styles available!