Cornrows are one of the most protective and low-maintenance hairstyles you can try for natural or relaxed tresses. They sit close to the scalp and can take on a variety of shapes depending on the look you're going for.
Some may think cornrows are more suited for casual events, but we’re here to prove that wrong with evidence collected straight from Instagram. Here are 30 stunning examples of cornrows that’ll make you call your braider up for an appointment.
If you like a sporty look that is super cute at the same time, you might want to try out some pigtail cornrows. Not only will your hair be out of your face, but it will also highlight and frame your features. For a more elaborate style, you can add mini braids at the side of your head to complement your larger cornrows.
Sure, you can do a bunch of fancy designs with cornrows, but those simple straight-back plaits should not be slept on. Add in a few thick sections (and hair extensions if you wish), and you’re sure to steal the show. The simple style pairs extremely well with bold makeup (and door knocker earrings, in case you haven’t noticed).
Half Cornrow Crown
Remember in the 90s and early 00s when it was popular to cornrow the front of your hair and leave the rest out in spiral curls? Well, the look is back, but the twist this time is to let your natural hair do its thing. After connecting your braids to create a crown, instead of tucking them away, you can leave them out for a beautiful contrast.
They say blondes have more fun, but that doesn’t mean you need to have your hair in your face while you go about your day. Simply cornrow the front of your head by a few inches and braid the rest out like regular box braids so your hair can easily be swept back. And remember, the higher the ponytail, the more striking it will be.
If you really want to add a little razzle-dazzle to your cornrows, you should implement color into your look—and there’s no better way than with a pastel rainbow color palette that gives off mermaid vibes. For a true queen of the sea aesthetic, make sure to leave half of your braids undone.
Ethiopia and Eritrea are home to a gorgeous cornrow hairstyle known as a “Shuruba” or “Albaso.” With this style, the front half of the hair is cornrowed down like a crown while the rest of the hair is let down for a beautiful half-up-half-down hairdo. For special events, a headband can be added to enhance the look.
If you want a style that’s equal parts regal and convenient, a halo braid may be just what you need. Keeping the front part of your hair neatly cornrowed ensures longevity while the larger braided halo in the back ensures you don’t have to fuss over loose tendrils. Add a few charms and beads, and prepare yourself for all the compliments you’re going to receive.
If a single cornrow part isn’t enough, you can always opt for two to create an accented hairstyle. Afro puffs definitely look dynamic when paired with these cornrows, especially if you add charms and other accessories to complete the look. We also love it when beads can be thrown in.
Do you think cornrows can’t provide an old Hollywood glam aesthetic? Well, we (and Amandla Stenberg) are here to prove you wrong with the finger wave cornrows she wore to the 2019 Oscars. This swooping 1920s-inspired updo stole hearts and we hope to see more classic beauties rocking it soon.
If you want a look that’s half cornrow, half updo, then a milkmaid style might be right up your alley. Throw in a few frontal accent cornrows to complement your larger milkmaid braid, and you automatically modernize the look. Beads and braid charms help to enhance the style further, of course.
When it comes down to hair embellishments, most opt for metallic braid charms. But, if you’re looking to try something different, you can adorn your cornrows with round-head fasteners like “She’s Gotta Have It” actress DeWanda Wise. Make sure the tacks don’t have sharp ends for safety reasons, of course.
Cowrie Shell Accent
Cowrie shells make a strong impression on their own, so you might want to be sparse with these natural accessories if you're looking to make a low-key statement. In fact, you can get away with a single cowrie shell if you like pretty symmetrical styles. If you're as adventurous as braid expert Shani Crowe, you may want to try a spiral cornrow and swooped baby hairs with your shell.
A cornrowed updo is protective and stylish. As with all productive styles, be sure to speak up if your braider is laying on the tension. If you feel post-appointment tightness, use warm water to help loosen the braids.
Touch of Texture
Braids don't mean you can't experiment with texture. Intermix mini cornrows with regular-sized or jumbo braids to give your style some artistic roots—literally and figuratively.