How to Braid Cornrows - An Introduction
Cornrows have taken the beauty world by storm and are a great way to style naturally curly, kinky, or wavy hair. While this style requires minimal maintenance, it can be difficult to get the braids started.
The Basics of Braiding Cornrows
Front-to-back cornrows are an excellent look and were quite simple once I understood the basics of braiding. As my braiding skills developed, I learned how to do designs and add accessories to any cornrow style. Hoping to get started with braiding cornrows? Read on to find out what I learned.
1) Begin by Washing and Detangling the Hair
I always begin this hairstyle with clean hair. I wash my hair as I normally would with shampoo and conditioner. When my hair is still damp, I apply a leave-in conditioner and start to detangle any knots or matted hair. When detangling, I always start at the very end of each strand and work my way up.
Once my hair is free of tangles, I use my favorite butter or oil to lock the moisture in. The best oils to use on naturally kinky or curly hair are jojoba oil, coconut oil, and argan oil, as well as aloe butter and shea butter. Having freshly washed and moisturized tangle-free hair makes the braiding process much easier.
2) Part the Hair Carefully
The reason that cornrows look so clean is that they are carefully parted into sections before the hair is braided. I use a rat-tail comb in order to part my hair into the rows necessary for my braids. I begin by parting my hair in rows– starting at the forehead and ending at the edge of my neck.
In order to ensure that both sides of my head look symmetrical when I finish, it helps for me to start sectioning off my hair down the middle rather than at the side of my head. When starting in the middle, I divide each of my sections into one, two, or three rows. Depending on the part I want, I can change where I have my sections made.
I make sure to secure each section with scrunchies, bobby pins, or small clips to keep the hair from falling out of place. As I make the sections, I make sure every row is relatively the same size as the other. Before I start braiding, I apply edge control or gel to my hairline to make the braid look as flawless as possible.
3) Beginning a Braid
I start the first cornrow the way I would with any other braid. I divide the first row into three sections. Taking a few pieces of hair between my fingers, I start at the front of my head. When separating the hair into three sections, be sure to separate each piece distinctly into a left, center, and right section.
Using both hands, hold one section of hair in one hand and use the other hand to hold two of the other sections separately. At this point, I’ll be ready to start the first cornrow.
4) Braiding the Cornow
When beginning the cornrow, I will choose either the right or left section of hair to start with. Move either the right or left piece of hair over then onto the center section. Then, I will replace the center section with the first piece of hair I started the braid with. Then this section will move over the other sections to the opposite side, as I switch the piece in the middle with the other side.
While it may seem confusing at first, it is important that both hands are always used when braiding. One hand will always hold one section and the other hand will hold the other two separated sections.
5) Getting the Cornrow Close to the Scalp
Once the first stitch of the braid is complete, I will add another section of my hair to the row that is beneath the first braid stitch. I always make sure to keep the sections separate as I add new hair to the braid. Ideally, I’ll add a 1/2 inch of hair to each new stitch in the braid.
As I add the hair, I make sure to braid as close to the scalp as possible. I will keep going in this same pattern until my braid reaches the nape of my neck. My finished cornrow should be flat against my head.
6) Finishing the End of Each Braid
When I finish a braid, I won’t let all my hard work go to waste by forgetting to secure the end of each braid. With natural hair, I can braid until the end of each section and let the end of the braid curl up on its own, preventing it from unraveling.
Someone with straight or loosely curly hair will need to secure the end of the braids immediately after braiding with a rubber band, hair band, or clip to make sure the ends don’t unravel.
7) Cornrowing the Entire Head
I continue my braiding technique in the same way until I finish cornrowing every section on my head. As I braid, I am sure to stay as close to the scalp as possible. If my braid isn’t tight enough, my cornrows will be too loose and may look messy.
Styling the Cornrows
Basic cornrows are fairly simple when it comes to their style. When I became confident with my braiding I was able to take my cornrow styling to the next level.
Now, I try styling cornrows to the side for an asymmetrical look. I start by parting my hair at a horizontal or slanted angle. Ideally, I’ll use only three parts to create this look. Bringing the braids either to the left or the right side of my head, the finished look will have my hair draping over one shoulder.
Another simple cornrow style to consider is a braided updo or ponytail. Now that my hair is long enough, I can take the ends of each braid and style them into a low bun or ponytail. When I want to style my hair higher, I make sure to keep that in mind when I begin my braids. Instead of braiding all of my hair towards the neck, I will braid the sections at the back of my hair up so that I can form a high bun or ponytail.
Cornrows are an excellent way to add versatility to any look. Use this guide to get started on any upcoming braiding adventures. With enough practice, anyone can easily become a cornrowing pro.