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Easy Tutorial for Cornrows and French Braids

Updated on August 2, 2014

Braiding As An Artform

Solidify the techniques of Braiding and unleash the expression of an endless and timeless art form. Known from ancient times, braids serve many purposes. Whether the braid will help maintain a fancy style or draw friends close together, these hairstyles passed down through generations have traveled countless continents and been worn by many.

Both cornrows and French braids use the same concept of parting the hair and strategically adding hair into the foundational braid. Learning the basic concept of braiding will unleash the power to create any style from simple braids to fancy or elegant updo’s.

Basic Plat

Before getting into trickier braiding patterns, one must get down how to plat. A plat is a single three-strand braid just like when you braid your hair that hangs out of a ponytail. Learning the plat is essential because it is the foundation to any braid no matter the hoped result. Start with hair that is clean and free of tangles. Make sure that hair is combed with a large tooth comb focusing on removing tangles but without tugging on hair as this could damage your locks. How to plat:

  1. To successfully plat you will need three strands of hair
  2. Moving the outside piece held in the right hand toward the middle by using either overhand or underhand movements.
  3. Now take the outside strand in the left hand and move it toward the middle using the same motion, either under or over hand.
  4. Continue this technique until there is no hair left to braid.
  5. Use a hair tie to secure the ends.

The direction of the hair exchange is not important when platting. However, when adding hair like in a French braid or cornrow the direction of the exchanged hair becomes the braid.

For example, underhand braiding moves the outside hair strand underneath the middle strand. The previous middle strand is now the outside strand. This is the technique used in cornrow braids.

Though, overhand braiding places the outside strand of hair over the middle strand and this is the technique used in a French braid.

To the right is a visual cue of the three-strand basic plat method.

French Braid
French Braid | Source

French Braid

Next, learn how to add strand of hair creating a French braid.

  1. Take three small pieces of hair in the bang area, which will serve as the beginning point.
  2. Using the 3-strand overhand technique take the right strand and place it over the middle strand.
  3. Now place the left strand over the middle strand.
  4. Adding hair begins now. Holding the hair between the fingers of your non dominant hand and use your dominant hand (which should be free) to pull up a strand of hair on the right side beginning from the hairline to the middle of the head in a swooping motion (the smaller the strand the smaller the center of the braid will appear to be).
  5. Add this swoop of hair to your strand on the right and move the original strand and the picked up strand to the middle.
  6. Repeat this on the left side holding the hair in your right hand.

That is it, repeat this technique until you run out of hair to pick up then braid the remaining hair to the end of the hair strand and attach a ponytail fastener at the end. French braiding is very popular in creating the “beach wave” look, which is very simple to achieve.

Beach Waves Using French Braid Technique

Part the hair into 3 or 4 sections from the forehead area straight back to the nape, ending with 3 to 4 strips of hair. Braid the hair while damp and before bed. Fasten the hair and sleep on it. In the morning, take out the braids and viola, beach waves. Watch the attached video for further assistance.

How To French Braid

Elegant Braid Style

Corn Row
Corn Row

Perfect Way To Seal Braid Ends: Synthetic Hair Only


The strands of the hair exchange for a cornrow is now reversed to an underneath motion. Achieving a very popular style, cornrows are creating through one braid or multiple braids. Endless possibilities emerge through neat parts creating a fashionable pattern.

To do this you section the hair in small strips or the pattern of your choice only braiding one partition at a time. For best results work from one area of the head moving in a strategic manner until you run out of hair. After making a part in the hair, secure the rest of the hair away from that part to avoid unneeded hair getting in the way. This also helps to keep the sections nice and neat.

Cornrow Technique for Patterns

When doing smaller braids I have an easier technique. You will be braiding lovely patterns in no time if you follow my step-by-step guide to braiding.

  1. Once the small strip of hair is sectioned.
  2. Grab your three small beginning strands and start braiding underhand. A personal choice for me when I start adding hair is starting to pick up hair from the right since I am right handed. I only use my thumbs, pointer and middle fingers; using a pinching motion like crab claws.
  3. Taking my left forefinger and place it under the hair and your original 3 strand piece
  4. Grab the right strand of hair and pull it into the middle while grabbing a little hair all in one swoop. This takes a little practice but you will be a speed braider in no time.
  5. Repeat this step by taking your right forefinger, go under the hair, and grab the left strand pulling it to the middle sneaking a little extra hair. Keep your hand as close and flat to the head making sure you are not picking up too much hair and helps to keep the braid tight. Voila. Watch this video as it provides some visual support.

Was this helpful and the techniques clear?

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Options are endless with braiding when using creativity that is literally at your fingertips. Using appropriate maintenance, your braids will continue to look great. If wearing your braids for an extended time – more than a day – I recommend wearing a head wrap to bed or using a silk pillowcase to reduce hair fuzziness. Add your favorite products to maintain your style. If you find that your hair is thin then a small amount of gel can help to keep the strands together and add ease to the braiding process while keeping the style fabulous.

Have Fun with your braids. The easiest way to practice if you do not have a live model, a doll will work just fine. Sit on the sofa with her firm between your knees and practice away while watching your favorite show.

I hope this tutorial was helpful to spark some encouragement to start braiding. Please comment on your own work or things you have learned. These styles are becoming increasingly popular and can be worn anywhere. I enjoy thinking up new styles and show off my creativity. Happy Braiding!!


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    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      5 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Good morning Jackie - braiding is a great way to get started in the morning or get ahead of yourself and braid at night. It certainly is a great way to tame very thick hair. Have a great day :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      5 years ago from the beautiful south

      Could you believe I did the French braid on myself for about three years (daily); but of course it was not that uniform or tight but I did it wet and it fluffed after it dried (my hair is super thick) and I got lots of compliment and know it looked good but now I am getting old I guess, lol. I still like a little braid here or there now and then.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      5 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks Audrey for stopping by. Braids are a great and easy style for anyone. It also helps on the days you want to skip washing and styling - like lazy weekends :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      5 years ago from California

      I love braids as well--I have long hair still and find braids are practical and stylish! --great tutorial!

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      6 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Hi Jody, thanks for the comment. There are a lot of videos on the web that demonstrate how to do braids yourself. Hope that is helpful.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Please show me the simplest way to do my own cornrows....pls

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 

      6 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      This is a great tutorial for people who like braids and corn rows. I have a nephew who likes to have his hair corn rowed but does not want to pay to get it done. This should be very helpful to him! Voted useful!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      7 years ago from Brazil

      I love braids. For many years I wore my hair long and often had it braided. I also enjoyed doing my daughters hair.

      One can produce some stunning looks with it.

      Great idea for a hub. I'll be sharing this one.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      10 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks for the exposure and it is an awesome skill to have.

    • katiem2 profile image

      Katie McMurray 

      10 years ago from Westerville

      I adore the versatile look of braids and do that well, just haven't learn the cornrow and now thanks to you I can add that to my list of skills, love braids everyone should know how. I'm sharing this and rating it up and all that's good. Thanks for the great tutorial.


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