From basic straight-back braids and partial cornrows to half-back styles and intricate patterns, there are so many ways to rock versatile cornrow braids. We rounded up the cutest cornrow braids to inspire your next look in this photo guide!
Cornrow Braids: The Most Versatile Protective Style
- Flat braids that stay secure for up to 8 weeks
- Tons of different styles and versions for trendy looks
- Protect your hair from damage, manipulation, and shrinkage
Is there a more versatile protective style than cornrows? This wide-ranging style can be as basic and simple or intricate and creative as you want. With big benefits for natural hair and tons of ways to wear them, cornrow braids deserve all of your attention if you’re wondering what hairstyle to try next.
Cornrows are flat braids – braids woven flat on the head like small French braids in rows – that stay put for up to 8 weeks. This is a protective hairstyle that is ideal for natural hair.
Since natural coily and kinky strands are fragile, prone to shrinkage, and susceptible to damage from heat and manipulation, cornrows are a stylish, low-maintenance style option. One of the best things about cornrow braids is how versatile they are.
You can opt for simple, basic braids that follow a straight line (like rows of corn in a field, where the style gets its name). You can get partial cornrows that braid only part of the hair, half-back cornrows where the braids end at the crown, or full, intricate cornrows in complex woven patterns.
Whether you’re looking for an easy protective style that keeps things simple or a more creative, trendy take, cornrow braids are going to be a great option.
Should You Get Cornrow Braids?
Since cornrow braids are such a popular and versatile protective hairstyle, you’ve probably worn them at least once or used them as a base for other styles like crochet locs or twists. If you’re thinking about rocking this look soon, there are a few things you should ask yourself to see if they’ll be a good fit.
- How long do you want your style to last? Cornrows can last anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks, depending on how well you maintain them and how tight the braids are. If you’re looking for a quick style to wear for just a few days, partial cornrows or half-back cornrows will be your best options since they don’t take as long to do.
- Do you want to protect or fully cover your natural hair? Cornrows are a protective style that uses your natural hair to form the braids. Some cornrows utilize feed-in extension hair to add length, color, and volume, but your natural strands will still be woven in. If you want a protective style that fully covers your hair, options like crochet locs, wigs, and crochet box braids or twists are better choices.
- Are you willing to do a little maintenance? Cornrows don’t require very much maintenance at all, but they’ll last longer and resist frizz better if you take a few preventative steps. Sleeping in a silk or satin bonnet, regular cleaning and moisturizing, and oiling your braids will help them last a lot longer.
- Do you like the low volume look? Since cornrows are flat braids, they create a very low volume look that closely follows the shape of your head. If you’re not a fan or find that more voluminous styles better suit your face shape, you can try wrapping the ends up in a high bun or ponytail. Trying half-back cornrows will also allow you to create more voluminous styles.
- How are you with scalp tension? Cornrows are notorious for causing a little pain or discomfort when they’re braided tightly enough to last for weeks. If your scalp is sensitive, you might benefit from trying a different protective style or going for looser braids that may last only a week or two.
If you’re looking for a protective braided style for black women that can last up to 8 weeks (with proper care and maintenance), are okay with a style that secures but still exposes your natural hair, and creates a low-volume look, cornrows are going to be a great choice.
They can be a little uncomfortable to get done since the braids have to be tight, but most people find that the discomfort is easily manageable and worth the lasting benefits.
20 Cute Cornrow Braids Ideas
If cornrows seem to be a good style option for your needs, now it’s time to get some ideas and inspiration for your look! There are so many cute options for cornrow braids. To get started, take a look at some of the best styles and see which patterns and cornrow types you like best!
1. Medium-Sized Straight Back Cornrows
Creating bigger sections for medium-sized cornrows makes the look completely different and we love how chic the results are. Forget fancy, curving braid patterns that take a long time to do – this straight-back style keeps it simple and polished so you’re spending less time in the chair.
2. Feed-In Flat Half Twists With Loose Wavy Ends
If you want the cornrow braids look without the tension of full braids, try flat half twists! This look incorporates classic 2-strand twists on top of the head back through the crown area with feed-in hair for big volume. Rock it with loose waves and two full twists for added texture.
3. Straight Back Thin Cornrows With Black and White Crochet Twists
Multi-textured styles like this might be our favorite. Braiding thin cornrows straight back on half of the head keeps the volume low for a sleek look that keeps the hair secure and protected. Crochet twists in black and white take over the other side and add some contrast that dresses up the look.
4. Partial Cross-Over Spider Cornrows
Unique patterns can really make your cornrows stand out with creative shapes. These cross-over braids form the shape of a spider and are only done on one side of the head, making them partial cornrows. They won’t take as long to finish and add a bold statement to any hairstyle.
5. Medium Straight-Back Braids With Double Low Buns
This is such a cute and trendy style to wear your braids in! Medium-sized flat braids run straight to the back for a precise and simple line pattern. The braids are coiled into two miniature low buns in the back for a casual style that looks great with jeans and a tee.
6. Angled Back Jumbo Feed-In Braids
Going for a larger braid width changes the look of cornrows and makes the texture of the braids really pop. These braids are angled back, following the curve of the head without the pattern going straight back. Light brown hair feeds into the braid for tons of length and volume.
7. Intersecting Straight Back and Curvy Cornrows
Mixing a few different braid widths with straight lines and curves makes for a really creative cornrow look that’s anything but basic.
Alternating straight braids with skinny curving lines and medium-sized braids that surround the edges of the head gives you tons of texture and interesting, intersecting lines on top.
8. Partial Cornrows With Floating Rings
Floating rings are such a cute cornrow accessory and really elevate the look to make it trendy. Partial cornrows with floating rings are eye-catching enough to stand out, even when done on just one side of the head. This look slicks the hair back above the ear for a pretty style.
9. Vertical Cornrow Double Crown Braids
Thin braids fan out from the center of the head from the crown, forming thin radial lines that make a starburst shape. Double, jumbo crown braids wrap around the outside, enclosing the skinny cornrows and capping the style with a bold touch.
10. Sapphire Blue Curvy Cornrows With High Pony
If you really want to make a splash with trendy cornrows, try a bright and bold fantasy color like sapphire blue. Jewel tones are everywhere right now, so use feed-in hair in the gemstone color of your choice to instantly upgrade your cornrows. A high, wrapped ponytail is the polishing touch.
11. Downward-Curving Feed-In Cornrows With Cuffs
We just saw floating rings as a cute accessory for cornrow braids, and cuffs are another great option. Feed-in braids that curve down the head on either side of a middle part are decked out with metal cuffs that decorate and punctuate the style.
12. Short Chevron Crown Braids With Undercut
Thin braids angle forward in a chevron V-shape inside the jumbo double crown braids in this style. The length underneath is shaved short in an undercut to keep braiding time minimal and make hair care so much simpler. These precise braids are a perfect option for shorter hair.
13. Vertical Thin Cornrows With Faux Hawk
Want to try something really different and creative with your braids? Try thin, vertical cornrows that burst into a voluminous, coily faux hawk on top. The ‘hawk runs from the front to the back with defined coily texture making it stand out.
14. Intricate Cross-Over Braids With High Ponytail
Nothing grabs your attention like precise, intricate cornrows running in different directions with multiple textures and braid patterns. This complex style will take longer, but creates a ton of visual interest. Style the braids with a wrapped high ponytail for a polished look.
15. Straight Back Medium Cornrows With Low Pony
If you’re looking for cute styles to dress up full cornrows, you can never go wrong with a polished low ponytail. Medium-sized feed-in braids are woven straight back and gathered into a low ponytail with a braid wrapped around the base for an added touch of sophistication.
16. Cross-Over Short Cornrows
These precise yet simple cross-over cornrows take on a unique shape and are perfect for short hair. Two thicker braids enclose the top around the sides and tiny horizontal braids connect to them. This look works well with an undercut or straight-back cornrows down the sides.
17. Feed-In Triangle Spiral Braids With Bun
This style looks super-intricate with a triangular spiral braid pattern on one side. Thin cornrows with feed-in caramel highlighted hair follow the curvature of the head up from the spiral and diagonally across the top. The ends are loosely wrapped into a bun and placed high near the crown for a pretty style.
18. Cross-Over Middle Part Cornrows
Partial cornrows add a little texture and precision to any hairstyle, especially with an intricate braid pattern like the cross-over.
Tiny flat braids cross over each other in a chain link shape and create a semi-permanent middle part that looks great with any hair type. Finish the look with straight back cornrows on either side for a more complete style!
19. Multi-Textured Blonde, Pink, and Blue Jumbo Cornrows
This look incorporates jumbo braids with alternating thin braids in between for some textural contrast that makes the look unique. Blonde color is the first thing you’ll notice, but bits of blue and pink weave through these braids for a touch of vibrance.
20. Straight-Back Short Cornrows
Feed-in braids can be heavy, so if you’re thinking about doing cornrow braids in your natural hair, a simple look like this is perfect. These medium-thin flat braids are directed straight back and don’t take long to finish. This breezy style is perfect for everyday wear and makes hair maintenance super simple!
Tips and Things to Consider
Cornrows are such a versatile and cute style for natural hair! There are lots of benefits and very few drawbacks. But before you get cornrows, we have some tips and helpful things for you to consider.
- Know how to manage the discomfort from tight cornrows. Massaging a little lavender oil or tea tree oil into your scalp where you feel the tension most will help soothe the areas and relieve pain. Taking an over the counter pain reliever is another option if your scalp hurts after getting cornrows. They should loosen up after a few days and be totally comfortable to wear.
- Experiment with cute styles to show off your braids. Flat braids like cornrows can be a style in themselves or the base for a ton of other cute looks! Twist your ends into a low or high bun, pull them up into a ponytail, wrap the ends around the base for a more polished look, or coil the ends into low double buns to change up the look. Half-back cornrows can be paired with other pretty styles like butterfly locs to form creative, trendy looks.
- Make your braids more unique by using synthetic hair. Feeding synthetic hair into your braids can give you additional length, volume for thicker braids, and pretty colors that make your style stand out. Synthetic hair can also give your braids a shiny, tidy appearance that resists frizz and looks polished and chic.
- If you plan to DIY, start small. Doing your own cornrow braids can be a fun challenge, but we recommend starting small. Try medium-sized or jumbo partial or half-back cornrow braids to keep things simple. This will also make it easier to reach the sections you want to braid. It’s a lot harder to braid down the back of your own head! Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can try more intricate patterns and styles.
- Know how much basic cornrow braids cost. When you get cornrows done by a professional, they can cost anywhere from around $35 for basic, short braids to $175 for longer hair and more intricate styles. Remember that it takes anywhere from about an hour to 4+ hours for more complex styles and if you’re using synthetic hair, that may be priced in as well.
Maintaining Your Cornrow Braids
Finally, getting cornrows means you’re unofficially signing a contract to maintain and care for them properly. If you want your braids to look fabulous, fresh, and far from frizzy, you need to follow these maintenance rules to keep your braids looking their best for up to 8 weeks.
Protect Them While You Sleep
When you sleep, you may toss and turn or rub your head against your pillowcase throughout the night. That will lead to loosened braids and lots of frizz if you don’t take steps to protect your cornrows while you sleep!
A satin or silk bonnet is a great way to prevent unwanted friction and keep your braids protected and intact while you sleep. Another way to protect cornrows at night is by twisting them and wrapping them in a tied silk scarf overnight. Either way, you’ll add plenty of slip to prevent friction and frizz.
Keep Them Clean and Moisturized
Maintaining your cornrows means keeping them clean and moisturized for maximum hair health and longer-lasting braids. You should wash and shampoo your braids at least once a week, concentrating on your scalp and spreading shampoo down each braid lightly.
Don’t rub, which can loosen the braids and cause frizz! Rinse the shampoo off with warm water and squeeze with a soft cotton or microfiber towel – again, don’t rub. Moisturizing is another important step for maintenance.
Moisturizing regularly will keep your natural hair healthy and supple to resist breakage when you take them down and also prevents frizz. Lightweight moisturizers work best, so use leave-in conditioners and refresher products every 3 days or so.
Read Next: How to Fix Frizzy Braids in 2023
Oil Them Regularly
Oil is essential for healthy cornrows that are comfortable and shiny. Applying oil to your scalp and braids regularly will keep the strands elastic as your hair grows, make your strands shiny, and lock in the moisturizing products you add.
Coconut oil is by far the best option for oiling cornrows. This is one of the few types of oils that can actually penetrate the hair shaft to introduce moisture while sealing it in.
Blend coconut oil with a little peppermint or lavender oil to introduce more hair growth and scalp health benefits with a single application!
Cornrows have stood the test of time for a reason – they look great on everyone and have so much style versatility. If you want a simple, basic style, you can do that with cornrows. Looking for something trendy, colorful, or cutting-edge?
Cornrow braids are great for that, too! You’ll be able to rest easy knowing your hairstyling is taken care of for the next 2 months or so while keeping your strands secure and protected from damage.
And with so many pretty ways to style full-length and partial or half-back cornrows, you can try a different look every day of the week while they’re in!