Cornrows originated in parts of ancient Africa as far back as 500 B.C. They were an indicator of social status for many indigenous people of Africa. Many ancient artifacts from the continent, including the Sphinx, depict the use of cornrows.
The cornrow style may have originated in Africa, but the style has deep roots in the history of slavery in the United States. Several enslaved Africans were forced to have their heads shaved, but cornrows became staples for them as their hair grew back since the style allowed them to keep their hair neat during their long days in the fields.
Many slaves found pride in their cornrows as they served as a reminder of their homeland in Africa. Over time, cornrows became much more than a hairstyle as they were eventually used as messages to escape their oppressors and move toward their freedom.
Today’s trends began during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Cornrows eventually went on to be an important hairstyle during the Black Power movement and since then have been the backbone of many other well-loved hairstyles within the black community.
What Are Cornrows?
Cornrows are a natural hairstyle suitable for both men and women. Cornrows are sections of hair that are typically neatly connected to the scalp in a braided fashion. Imagine doing a plait but connected to your scalp – that’s a cornrow.
Cornrows are also a base style for other hairstyles. To create some hairstyles, such as crochet braids and sew-in weaves, the natural hair must be braided into cornrows. The cornrows for these styles are braided into patterns depending on how the hair will be worn.
How to Achieve Cornrows?
Cornrows are created by parting a section of hair and braiding the section to connect to the scalp. This method can be done to the entire head or part of the head. For some, getting the hang of the cornrow technique is quite difficult, but it isn’t impossible to do. This is a hairstyle that may take you a few tries and a lot of practice to get the hang of it.
African Pride Black Castor Miracle Extra Hold Braid
1. Begin by prepping your hair
Your hair should be washed, conditioned, and thoroughly moisturized. Cornrows can be a very taxing hairstyle for your scalp and the length of your hair so, making sure your hair is fully moisturized, and healthy can combat breakage. The Shea Moisture Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner is a great option. It is optional to blow dry your hair or leave it in its natural state.
Shea Moisture Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner
2. Map the sections
Next, you should map out how many sections and where those sections will be. This will make for a smoother process and neater outcome. Using a rat tail comb for this step will help make your parts much crisper and more defined.
3. Divide your first section
Just as you would if you were beginning a plait, you need to take your first section and divide it into three parts. The only difference is that you will only be taking a small portion at the front of the section instead of the entire section.
Shine N Jam Conditioning Extra Hold With Honey,16 Ounce
4. Begin the cornrow
Now you’re going to begin the cornrow. Begin to braid the three sections as normal and then gradually add in hair from the remaining hair in the section. You want to continue adding hair as you braid down to connect the braid to your scalp.
Making sure you have a good grip and continuously add in hair will ensure a good and neat cornrow. The technique is hard to grasp at first, but your fingers will automatically know what to do after a while.
It is common for jumbo braiding hair to be added to the cornrows for length and fullness for women. Applying cornrows takes an average of 1 hour to complete depending on the complexity of the braids.
Are Cornrows Versatile?
The design of the cornrows can vary based on the individual and create a lot of versatility. Cornrows can go straight back or be parted into designs, such as zig-zags for men. Cornrows for men are very common and are another great thing about the hairstyle. Cornrows are popular for all genders and ages. Accessories, such as beads and cowrie shells can be added to the ends of the hairstyle.
Besides the cornrows themselves being versatile, cornrows are the base technique of many protective styles such as feed-in braids, Ghana braids, and many others. If you’re looking for some versatility to your regular cornrows, consider giving some of these hairstyles a try.
How Long Do Cornrows Last?
With proper care, cornrows can last for several weeks before it becomes necessary to remove them.
Who Are Cornrows Suitable For?
Cornrows are a good protective style for coarser hair types ranging from 3A to 4C. Coarser hair types will more easily be able to hold the style and handle the tension that is involved with it. For more sensitive scalps, cornrows may be uncomfortable due to the tension involved. Always be vocal to your stylist if they are braiding too tightly, as this can lead to breakage and traction alopecia.
When to Wear Cornrows?
Cornrows braids can be worn at all times of the year and typically are. They are a great protective hairstyle to give your hair a break from daily manipulation.
Pros and Cons
- Cornrows can be quick to install. On average, cornrows only take an hour to complete depending on the complexity of the design. This means you can be in and out of the salon chair in good timing with a new hairstyle.
- Cornrows are inexpensive. To add to the pro that cornrows take minimal time to install, they also require minimal money. It varies based on the complexity of the design, but cornrows cost as low as $30.
- Cornrows are great for all genders and ages. Cornrows are an extremely inclusive hairstyle. It is a common hairstyle for all genders and ages to enjoy.
- Cornrows can cause breakage and hair loss. Cornrows require some tension to complete the hairstyle, but there is such thing as too much tension. If cornrows are installed too tightly to where you are left in immense pain, you should take them out immediately! Cornrows being done too tightly can lead to hair loss and breakage, some of which may be irreversible.
- Cornrows may be difficult to remove. If cornrows are taken down carelessly, this may lead to the tangling of your hair. Cornrows can be left up for weeks at a time, and it is only natural for your hair to shed during this time. When taking down your cornrows, be sure to detangle your hair to remove the shed hair properly carefully.