How To Braid Cornrows

Child with braid cornrows

Cornrows are a great African style of braiding hair that requires practice and patience. If you want cornrows that last up to a week, follow these steps. Braiding cornrows will take some time and patience to be sure they are tight braids that follow a straight pattern on your head.

You can learn other great braiding styles with Braid Girl! Hair Braiding Instructional eBook.

Small rubber bands (coated or made specifically for hair use)
Fine-toothed comb
Gel, hair wax or leave-in conditioner
Spray bottle

  1. Wet the hair. The hair should be damp but not sopping wet. You may want to spray with a leave-in conditioner when wetting. This makes the hair easier to braid and also protects the hair from breakage.
  2. Divide the hair into sections. It is easier to plan the design of your cornrows before you start braiding. When you divide your hair into sections, be sure that you like the pattern before you begin braiding. The sections should be no more than an inch to an inch and a half wide. The smaller the cornrows, the better they will hold.
  3. Start at the top of your head and part the first section of hair. Take the section you divided in step two that is closest to the top of your head. Use the comb to part the hair in a line so that you can see your scalp. You should have a one-inch section from your forehead to the back of your head.
  4. Secure hair not being used. Use rubber bands to group the other sections not being braided so that they don’t get in the way of the first braid.
  5. Begin at the hairline. Take a small part of the section where you want the cornrow to start. You want a small amount of hair at first.
  6. Divide the section into three strands to braid. The three strands should be equal in size. Braid the three strands by starting with the left strand. Pull the left over the center strand (the left becomes the new center). Then pull the right over the new center. Repeat this with the new left and new right twice. Be sure that the braid is tight and close to the scalp.
  7. Gather more hair. Take a small section of the hair that is under the braid (but not yet a part of the braid). Add that section of hair to the middle strand of the braid so that you still have three sections.
  8. Repeat the braid process with this new hair. Braid left over the new center, then right over center.
  9. Continue braiding to the end of the hair. After each braid step (left over center, right over center), add more hair to the center strand. Remember to keep the hair tight and add only a little hair to the center strand each time you braid.
  10. Once you reach the end of that section of hair, secure it with a rubber band. Make sure the band is tight so that the hair won’t come loose.
  11. Start the next cornrow. After you finish the first braid repeat these steps to the next section of hair. Work from the center down one side of your scalp, then the other side. The process takes a while to braid an entire head of hair. Periodically use the spray bottle to wet the hair that has yet to be braided.
  12. Enjoy your new look.

Cornrows should last about a week if the braids are tight. Cornrows can be a fun hairstyle option. You can get creative with different patterns and styles using these braids. Just be sure to be patient, practice and never pull the braids so tight that they cause pain.


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