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.
Single Cornrow Part
Usually, people opt for a series of cornrows to complete their look. But if you’re feeling a bit creative, you can use a single cornrow to accent your natural hair. If you’re rocking a fro, the addition creates a gorgeous geometric shape.
A defined middle part always makes a statement. And you can push that statement further with multicolored cornrows that are sectioned off horizontally instead of vertically. Trust us, the symmetry is stunning.
Cornrows are from Africa, and so are cowrie shells. Combining them both together along with a few statement beads tells the world that you’re in touch with the motherland and proud. If the look isn’t eye-catching enough, you can always add a sky-high braided bun.
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).
Cornrows are great because you can braid in a striking pattern on the scalp. This includes stitch braids, which allows a thin line to cut out and run parallel to the major one, thus creating a stitch effect. Add in some baby hairs and you’re good to go.
Baby Hairs Galore
If you’re an unashamed fan of baby hairs, cornrows are a braid style that allows you to have them front and center. Grab your favorite edge control gel and go to town on those edges. For a romantic look, make sure to brush your baby hairs into swoops and swirls.
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.
A fauxhawk is a bold natural hairstyle that provides height and volume and keeps hair off the neck on a hot day. In the peak of summer, adding large sunflower accessories provides an elegant seasonal touch.
Half Cornrow-Half Box Braid
Can’t decide between a cornrow or box braid style? No problem—you can combine the two and create bold braid patterns while you’re at it. For a festive wintery look, you can attempt a six-pointed snowflake shape.
Cornrows with Full Ponytail
Actress Chanté Adams looks stunning in cornrows pulled back into a low, mega-volume ponytail.
An updo is a sophisticated hairstyle that pairs fantastically with cornrows. Most might opt for a low-placed bun, but if you really want to stand out, you can braid your hair into an elaborate top knot. And if you like the color blue, the style looks extra stunning.
You’ve seen what a cornrow top knot looks like—here’s what a low knot looks like with glam gold thread interspersed, courtesy of the talented Bianca Lawson.
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.
Did you think it wasn’t possible to achieve a beautiful bob hairstyle with cornrows? Well, we’re happy to show you that you can with asymmetrical braided parts. Throw in some pastel pink extensions for an edgy yet soft look.
Take your sporty cornrow pigtails up a level with a fire engine red hue. Trust us, you’ll stop traffic. Need we say more?
Model and actress Jourdan Dunn is no stranger when it comes down to experimenting with her hair, and of course, this includes cornrows. If you want to cop her style, you just need to add two mini cornrows in between the main ones and leave your baby hairs out sans gel.
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.
Lighter colors tend to show off your cornrow braid pattern easier. This is especially true with a pale shade like platinum. Though, if you want to add extra definition, you may want to alternate between braid sizes.
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 they wore to the 2019 Oscars. This swooping 1920s-inspired updo stole hearts and we hope to see more classic beauties rocking it soon.
Regal Red Puffs
Okay, you caught us—we have a thing for puffs. But you can’t blame us when you see these rocking red cornrows support these Princess Jasmine-esque banded puffs. Add in some metallic thread and statement charms to your braids and you can be our queen anytime.
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.
Chunky cornrows might be what’s in right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t request thinner sections. And as an added bonus, skinny braids last longer. Just don’t forget to keep your edge control gel handy like model and actress Justine Skye.
Got love for millennial pink? Then why not show your allegiance with a partial cornrow-to-box braid ponytail? For a little more "oomph," you can wrap your braids around your created ponytail instead of using a standard hair tie.
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.
Rock Star Fauxhawk
Cornrows and fauxhawks go together like PB&J, and that’s because the braided sections are reminiscent of shaved parts. Additionally, if you have a really skilled braider, you can get some unique designs braided against your scalp. This includes stars and more.
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.
This is one of the most creative cornrow patterns I've seen, and with the right braider, this look will be a breeze to recreate. Since the cute style hugs the edges, you'll want to keep the health of them in mind.
Ciara, a multi-hyphenate entertainer, rarely disappoints. Straight-back cornrows are always a treat, but sparkly embellishments and snatched baby hairs make this look an entrée.
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.
Straight Back and Simple
If laying your baby hairs isn't a priority, Kelly Rowland's slicked back braids are just your style. Follow the beauty icon's lead and pair the style with a no-makeup makeup to bring the look full circle.
Trichologist and expert braider, Tamara, is known for her stunning designs, and this sunflower embellished faux hawk is certainly one to try. To secure your flowers, just place the stem of the flower through a bobby pin, and you're ready to roll.
Micro-Cornrows and Baby Hairs
Justine Skye's baby hair-framed micro-cornrows are the perfect style for a weeklong vacay. A silk scarf and castor oil for your edges are a must for maintaining this style and your hairline.
Janelle Monae's white adorned cornrows show us how easy it is to accessorize even the simplest style. Here you could use string or even ribbon to add a pop of color.
Want to try a new hair color without making the commitment? Use braiding hair to experiment. Have fun with it since you only have to live with your new hue for four to six weeks.
Keep It Classic
Zoe Kravitz's sleek Met Gala look is one of my top three beauty looks of all time. With this style, the length of your hair doesn't matter unless you're wearing a cropped look.
Add face-framing "fringe" like songstress FKA Twigs. The loose ends here give this style extra oomph. If you're afraid the braids may unravel, place an elastic that matches your hair color just above where the hair is loose for security.
Solange infuses a few different braided styles in this two-toned blonde cornrowed look. Take a closer look, and you'll see white string woven throughout, which is an easy way to add color to any style.
Feed-in braids are the way to go, especially if you want a lighter, cleaner looking cornrowed look.
Kerry Washington is the queen of finding a new way to have fun with beauty looks. Here, she adds gold embellishments to her braids, making this a simple look to recreate at home.
The ability to experiment with hair lengths is one of the best benefits of cornrows. You can go as short or as long without hesitation.
Clean and Simple
Straight back cornrows are an opportunity for less hair maintenance, and a chance to show off your gorgeous face. This isn't a hair trick, but when wearing the hair back, play up your favorite feature, and use a touch of bronzer to lightly contour your face.
Cowrie Shell Cornrows
These blunt cornrows are accessorized with cowrie shells, a nod to deep African roots.
Braid artist Shani Crowe always stays true to the roots of African history while bringing us and our hair into the future. I love this look for a special event or when you want to shake up your normal cornrow look.
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.
Braids don't have to fit into a box, and Alicia Keys has been an example of that since her musical debut. Adding beads is a fun way to accessorize your latest cornrow look.
Rocking two braids doesn't have to be boring. Add a couple of small cornrows to each side for a little pizzazz.