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How to Do the Basic Cornrow Hairstyle - step by step guide

Updated on June 19, 2013
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I am an African Woman and almost always have my hair in weaves and braids. I am an enthusiast and write about it.

I wrote a hub about how to weave your own hair in which I assumed you know how to do the basic cornrow weave.

For those who don’t know how, this is a step by step cornrow guide.

Cornrows are those braids that are done tight to your scalp. See the pictures below. Hairstyles come and go but cornrows are a classic style and show up now and again even on the red carpet.

For African Americans, cornrows are part of our life. It is often the easiest way to keep a child’s unruly locks in place as they play and jump around. But it is not just for children, cornrow hairstyles have been popularized by celebrities and athletes, especially the men.

Kanu Nwankwo with Cornrow braids
Kanu Nwankwo with Cornrow braids | Source
Alicia keys with Cornrows
Alicia keys with Cornrows | Source

Things you need to do the basic cornrow braid

  1. Combs and brushes.
  2. Hair cream or gel.
  3. Mirrors to help you see how the style suits the face.
  4. Your imagination.
  5. Whatever else you usually use to treat your hair

The important thing is to realize that you will not get it right the first time so don't lose hope if it looks messy at first.

Various Cornrow hairstyles
Various Cornrow hairstyles | Source

How to do the basic Corn row hairstyle

The cornrow is done using three strands of hair.

Each hand holds one strand while the other lies in the middle.

I am going to give this guide assuming you are doing the weave on a friend or a doll, in which case you are standing behind the head.

How to do the basic Corn row hairstyle


  • Decide which direction you are going to weave. I suggest a simple front to back straight weave for starters. Leave the complex crossover lines to when you are more proficient.
  • With a comb, carve out a small section of hair. In doing the back to front hairstyle, part the section from the hairline in front to the back hairline.
  • Pick a small lock of hair from the front of the section you have separated out.
  • Pass it under some hair over to the opposite hand. (the hair that is left out/passed under should be about the same size as the lock you are holding)
  • With the second hand, hold the hair passed over and the hair from the other hand and repeat the process.
  • Continue till the end of the line and finish off with a braid.

This is all the information you need on how to do the basic cornrow style.

It all sounds difficult but is in truth easy and even becomes instinctive. Most of us can braid hair without even keeping an eye on our hands.

How to Maintain your Cornrows

Cornrows look faulous but don't stay fresh as long as weaves. Its best to redo the corrows every other week at the most.

Wash the hair regularly and use a protein deep conditioner to strengthen the hair.

Brush the beginnings of each cornrow daily with a natural bristle brush if possible. If the hair feels too tight, then it may cause breakouts or rashes. Loosen immediately and wait for a week before you try again.

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