Simply put, cornrows are a traditional African style of braiding in which the hair is platted in a narrow strip that sits on the scalp, creating neat, decorative patterns. One of the most low-maintenance and versatile protective styles in existence, the number of cornrow styles you have to choose from is limited only by your own level of creativity. What’s more, they can be installed by using extensions or your own natural hair. With that said, feel free to peruse this list of 7 unique cornrow styles you’ll love!
One of the most unique ways to go about installing cornrows is to create them out of dreadlocks. To achieve this look, you simply start with your clean, dry dreadlocks and braid them together as you would normally do with non-dreaded hair. No matter which style you choose to go with, the texture of your dreads will make this a style all your own.
The Cornrow Crown
A highly unique look, the cornrow crown consists of a series of cornrows around the perimeter of the head being braided inward, with another smaller subset of braids being braided from the inside out. The two sets of braids are then twisted together creating a literal crown out of your natural hair! Moderate in terms of the level of difficulty, you can use your own hair to achieve this style or extension will also work just fine!
The Braid Hawk
A fun and edgy style with an array of possible variations, the braid hawk is a very cute style that is long lasting and unique. While the type of hair you use is up to you (i.e. Kanekalon, Marley hair, or even your own natural hair), how you choose to style the middle of the mohawk is key. You can wear it curly, braid it up, or even add in some other type of extension to give it an exotic look with added length. No matter what you decide, just be sure that your braids are tight and the parts are neat!
Another fun and fancy option for cornrowing your natural hair, criss-cross braids are a unique style with lots of possibilities. Created by literally criss-crossing or braiding your cornrows in a way that causing them to intersect and overlap, there are quite a few styles that can be achieved with the help of a steady hand and a bit of ingenuity.
The Alicia Keys Look
Although Mrs. Beatz certainly wasn’t the first person to rock this style, she certainly was the person who made it most famous. Achieved by braiding most of your platts backwards, with a couple on each side going in the opposite direction, this style is then completed by adding beads to the ends of the braids. There are a number of options regards to recreating this looks and, of course, extensions are an option as well.
An upscale and classy method of rocking your cornrows, updo’s come in a wide variety of styles. You can keep it simple, add designs, use your own hair, use extensions, add a bit of color, or whatever you prefer. The end result will be a long-lasting style that is cute and easy to maintain.
No, this isn’t a reference to the late hip-hop artist, rather it is my little affectionate name for mixing thick and slim braids. A super unique style that adds an eye-catching texture to the hair, this little style can be a show stopper without much effort at all. You can use extensions or your regular hair, and simply braid every few braids as a thick braid or you can do more thick braids and sporadically install a few skinny ones. Fun and fairly easy to do, these braids will keep you in-style for weeks at a time!
No, once again, this is not a reference to the hip-hop community. Freestyle braiding is exactly what it sounds like. You simply start the braids and see where your creativity takes you. You can makes designs of all kinds, or use any mixture of the methods mentioned in this article, or any others that you may have come across on your natural hair journey. The point is to create a unique style that you love, and that others may even want to try to mimic in the future. Also, make sure the braids are uniform in some way and as always, pay attention to the parts!
Another, often overlooked element to rocking different cornrow styles is learning how to care for them. First of all, they typically do not wash well. However, they can typically withstand water and moisture. Therefore, if something is in your hair that needs to be rinsed out, it’s best to use clear water to get rid of it. Next, in terms of products, you’ll want to keep those to a minimum as the build-up can cause itching, dandruff, and ultimately lead you to take them out faster than you otherwise would have. However, products such as “dry shampoo”, sheen spray, hair and scalp oils, and similar items are great for braided hair (as long as you don’t overuse them). Other than that, you’ll need a scarf, stocking cap, du-rag, or turban to sleep in, in order to prevent frizziness and excess lint from attacking the hair during sleeping hours.
Overall, much like natural hair in general, cornrows are a beautiful style with ancient roots that have stood the test of time. How you style them is entirely up to you, but do keep in mind that the smaller they are, the longer they typically last. On the flip side, also keep the context of your life in the picture as some styles work better for specific professional settings, while others can create unforeseen complications (for example, a job that requires hats in incompatible with an updo). Either way, there is a long, beautiful history behind these cornrow styles so do your best and rock them with pride!