Cornrows are one of the most protective and low-maintenance styles you can try for natural or relaxed hair. 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 styles that show you how to rock them for all sorts of occasions. Ahead, see 40 stunning examples of cornrow hairstyles that’ll make you call your braider up for an appointment.
If you like a sporty look that feels stylish 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.
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 they have traditionally featured accents like beads and shells. Adorning your cornrows like this tells the world that you’re in touch with your roots and proud. If the look isn’t eye-catching enough, you can always style into an updo or make like Alicia Keys in the early aughts with a vibrant eye makeup look.
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 well with both natural and bold beauty looks, so you're sure to find lots of versatility.
Baby Hairs Galore
If you’re an unashamed fan of baby hairs, cornrow hairstyles allow 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.
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 mega-volume hairstyle.
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 topknot. 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 bun looks like with glam gold thread interspersed, on the talented Bianca Lawson.
Half-Up Space Buns
If you want a style that’s equal parts regal and convenient, an elegant set of half-up space buns may be just what you need. Keeping the front part of your hair neatly cornrowed ensures longevity, while the braids toward the back are allowed to be beautifully free. Add some artful edges or decorative charms, and prepare yourself for all the compliments you’re going to receive.
Did you think you couldn't achieve a beautiful bob hairstyle with cornrows? It's more than possible, and it looks amazing with asymmetrical braided parts. Throw in some pastel pink extensions for an edgy yet soft look.
Take your cornrow hairstyle up a level for a special event with a fiery 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 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 make the details of your cornrow hairstyle pop, and this is especially true with a pale shade like platinum. 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 any time.
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.
Got love for millennial pink? 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.
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 combine whatever braid designs you want for a truly memorable look.
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 hairstyle hugs the edges, you'll want to keep the health of them in mind.
If you're looking to add something special to your cornrow hairstyle for an upcoming event, try Danai Gurira's Oscars approach and top off your crown with a gold headband. Decadent earrings are the icing on the cake.
A cornrowed updo is protective and stylish, and the possibilities are endless. As with all protective 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 icon's lead and pair the style with no-makeup makeup to bring the look full circle.
Micro-Cornrows and Baby Hairs
Justine Skye's baby hair-framed micro-cornrows are the perfect style for vacation. A silk scarf and castor oil for your edges are essential 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. 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 where the hair is loose for security.
Feed-in braids are the way to go, especially if you want a lighter, clean-looking cornrowed look.
Kerry Washington is the queen of finding new ways to have fun with beauty looks. Here, she adds gold embellishments to her braids, a simple way to elevate any cornrow hairstyle.
The ability to experiment with hair lengths is one of the best benefits of cornrows. You can go as short or as long as you want without hesitation.
Clean and Simple
A set of simple cornrows are an opportunity for less hair maintenance and an elegant finish. When keeping things low-key with your hair, play up your favorite feature and use a touch of bronzer to lightly contour your face.
Beyoncé is constantly finding new ways to show off elements of her roots in the most glamorous of settings. We love this look for a special event or when you want to shake up your normal cornrow hairstyle.
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.
Rocking two braids doesn't have to be boring. Add a couple of small cornrows to each side for a little pizzazz.
What are cornrows?
Simply put, cornrows are traditionally African hairstyle in which hair is braided close to the scalp, in rows of braids.
How do you braid cornrows?
To braid cornrows, use the tail end of a rattail comb to create sections. Divide each section into three equal parts (similarly to most braids), and begin braiding straight back, adding hair from the nearby sections as you go. Repeat from the crown of the head to the bottom.
How long do cornrows last?
Depending on how well-maintained they are, cornrows can last roughly 2-6 weeks. Be careful not to scratch or massage the braids too frequently and they'll last even longer. When you sleep, keep your style tied down with a skill scarf or wear a bonnet.
How do you wash cornrows?
To keep your cornrows clean without unraveling them, spray a mixture of sulfate free shampoo, water and oil onto damp hair. Lightly massage it into your scalp, squeezing the braids as you go (so as not to damage them). Rinse, and follow the same step-by-step with conditioner, oil and water.