A Step by Step Guide to Braiding Cornrows

01
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Part Hair for Individual Cornrow Section

Photo © 2009 D. Sandeen, licensed to About.com, Inc.

If you know the basics of braiding, you can create cornrows. While braids or plaits hang freely from their individual sections, cornrows are braided to the scalp.

First, use the tail end of a ​rattail comb to create the size section you want. Skinnier sections will result in smaller cornrows, while larger sections will yield bigger cornrows. Here, a section is parted in front to create a cornrow directed to the side.

02
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Divide Hair Section into Three Parts for Braiding

Photo © 2009 D. Sandeen, licensed to About.com, Inc.

At the hairline, divide the hair section into three equal parts as you would to begin any braid.

03
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Begin Braiding Small Section

Photo © 2009 D. Sandeen, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Begin to braid the small section of hair at the hairline.

04
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Add Hair as You Braid

Photo © 2009 D. Sandeen, licensed to About.com, Inc.

This is where a braid turns into a cornrow. As you continue to braid the hair, add hair from the section you're braiding into the cornrow. This is what attaches the braid to the scalp. Each time you pick up one of the three pieces of hair to braid, gently pull hair from the parted off section and add it in as you braid. Add hair evenly for a uniform look.

05
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Continue Braiding and Adding Hair to the Cornrow

Photo © 2009 D. Sandeen, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Continue to braid the section of hair, adding more hair into the cornrow as you work your way toward the end.

06
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Detangle Sections of Hair

Photo © 2009 D. Sandeen, licensed to About.com, Inc.

If you're creating cornrows on straightened or relaxed hair, you might not need to detangle as you braid. But natural hair, as pictured, needs to be detangled as you work your way down sections. Simply and gently pull your fingers through the hair to work your way through so that the braids will continue to be neat and uniform.

It's helpful to have a spray bottle nearby filled with water, a water/leave-in conditioner mixture or a water/natural oil mixture to help with detangling.

07
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Continue Braiding

Photo © 2009 D. Sandeen, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Once you've braided the hair to the scalp, you'll have to continue braiding if the hair is long. These braids will not be attached to the head, so braid them as you would regular braids.

08
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Secure the Ends

Photo © 2009 D. Sandeen, licensed to About.com, Inc.

To prevent cornrow ends from unraveling, you can curl them around your finger. This will work better on natural hair. For hair that's straight and whose ends won't stay together on their own, use snap-free rubber bands or barrettes.

09
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Repeat Around the Head

Photo © 2009 D. Sandeen, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Here you can see a couple cornrows already finished and another section being prepared for braiding. Repeat the braiding process all the way around the head, making sure to part sections the same size.

10
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Completed Cornrows

Photo © 2009 D. Sandeen, licensed to About.com, Inc.

This is a simple and basic cornrow style. The parts are straight and the size is uniform. It's a good style for children which can stay neat for a week or two as long as silk or satin caps or scarves are placed over the hair at nighttime.

This style isn't just for kids or professional athletes. It's also a good style for women who want to give their hair a break from chemical treatments or heat styling. If you don't want to wear plain cornrows, you can add ponytail extensions or an Afro puff extension for a different look.