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30 Stunning Cornrow Hairstyles You’ve Got To Try

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Photo by Amy Sussman / Staff/Getty Images

Stunning, functional, and super versatile—whether you’re new to cornrows or you’ve been wearing them forever, these classic braids are true game-changers when you’re looking to keep your hair gorgeous and protected. Alicia Fuentes, texture expert at Maggie Rose Salon, says it’s because cornrows keep natural hair “tucked away from day-to-day styling, heat tools, and the elements.” Wearing cornrows also “prevents constant manipulation of your hair and keeps your hair detangled,” she adds.

Quick history lesson: Although they’ve been seen everywhere from the red carpet to everyday wear, cornrows date back thousands (yup, thousands!) of years to Africa in 3000 B.C. “The intricacies of styles depicted what tribe someone belonged to while also displaying creative and festive energy,” says Fuentes. Cornrows are still worn today in West Africa, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan where the styles differ between areas and tell unique stories and details about the wearer.

Ready to try cornrows for yourself? While they may take a little time to perfect, with care they can look fresh for weeks. “If braids are done with your natural hair, I would recommend [leaving them in] no more than two weeks,” says Fuentes. If extensions are fed into your natural hair, she suggests up to four. Continue reading for 30 amazing cornrow styles—from jumbo cornrows to braided buns—that you’ll want to wear on repeat.

About the Expert:

Alicia Fuentes is a textured hair expert at Maggie Rose Salon in Davie FL.

1. Ultra Long & Glam

Zendaya rocking a graphic eyeliner makeup look and cornrows hairstyle
Photo by Amy Sussman / Staff/Getty Images

Classic cornrows were super popular in the 90s and are still turning heads today. Case in point: Zendaya’s gorgeous, glam version that cascades well past her waist. Zendaya paired it with a cool, graphic eye for instant Cleopatra vibes that solidify her status as queen of the red carpet.

2. Unraveled Ends 

Zoe Kravitz rocking long braided hairstyle and natural makeup look paired with bold red lips
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

Zoë Kravtiz took one of her signature styles and gave it a cool, “I woke up like this” effect with loose ends that reflect her low-maintenance and undeniably gorgeous aesthetic. Toss your hair every which way—there are no bad angles. Tip: Run a nourishing hair oil through the ends to keep them soft, smooth, and protected.

3. Classic and Cute

Smiling Yara Shahidi rocking a braided updo hairstyle and no-makeup makeup look
Photo by Rodin Eckenroth / Stringer/Getty Images

Something about Yara Shahidi’s adorable updo gives us instant Bring It On vibes (and you bet we’re here for it). Secure your ends at the nape of your neck or bring it up into a low bun for a hairstyle that will score 10s across the board.

4. Perfect Edges 

Ciara rocking a sleek, braided hairstyle at the 2020 American Music Awards
Photo by Kevin Winter / Staff/Getty Images

We can count on Ciara to shake things up every time she hits the red carpet. Her classic long cornrows are sleek as ever. The twist? Her styled edges that are equal parts fun, glam, and gorgeous. To get yours as perfect as Ciara’s use a clean spoolie or small toothbrush and an edge control product to smooth yours into your favorite shape or position.

5. Soft and Side-Swept

A little casual, a lot romantic—Jourdan Dunn’s side-swept hairstyle adds a little glam to your everyday look. It’s easy to wear and looks just as beautiful in a low or high pony or over one shoulder like Jourdan.

6. Fun Accessories

[Insert your favorite Spice Girls’ lyrics here] and it’s bound to be filled with as much girl power as Mel B’s ultra curly, rockabilly-inspired look. Add a fun hair accessory like her “LOVE” clip and you’ll make a statement wherever you go.

7. Half-Up Hair

Smiling Regina King rocking a braided half-up hairstyle and glam makeup look
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer / Staff/Getty Images

Regina King continues to reign the red carpet in this ultra-cool, half-up hairstyle. Her hair is secured midway down the back of her head which allows the ends to flow freely for a look that’s effortless, edgy, and always party-ready.

8. Mesmerizing Updo

Once we set eyes on this stunning updo, we knew it had to make our list. Each braid is formed at an angle and expertly curved to create a mesmerizing winding effect. It's then twisted into a super high top knot that’s modern, chic, and fit for any occasion.

9. Silver Linings

Gabrielle Union looking glam in a braided hairstyle and natural makeup look
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

Gabrielle Union makes our list more than once (you’ll see as you continue your scroll) for her effortlessly beautiful looks, including these gorgeous braids with loose ends that are nothing short of pure romance. Add threads of silver gems like Gabby in the form of rhinestones or pearls and it’ll be your turn to shine.

10. Topped off with a Hat

Janelle Monae rocking braided hairstyle, bold red lips makeup look, and black hat
Photo by Marcus Ingram / Stringer/Getty Images

We love Janella Monae for her signature style. She shakes things up with a 90s Janet Jackson-inspired look by adding a chic hat atop her gorgeous, waist-length braids. Monae topped it all off with a bold, bright red lip for a cool, sexy vibe we love.

11. Side Cornrow Pony

Rihanna looking glam in a purple dress and braided hairstyle
Photo by Paras Griffin / Stringer/Getty Images

Can you say ponytail goals? Rihanna’s straight back braids start at the crown and give way to a flowing, voluminous, mid-height ponytail. Her ponytail has smaller braids woven throughout to create dimension and texture.

12. Classic Cornrows

Zendaya in a yellow plaid jacket and classic cornrows hairstyle
Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Staff/Getty Images

Zendaya’s no stranger to sporting braided cornrows and experimenting with protective, natural hairstyles. If you want to prolong the length of your braids, Fuentes says it’s crucial to keep your hair hydrated. “In the morning, spray a nourishing hair milk or leave-in all over your hair, including the ends. At night, use oils with vitamin E or jojoba and sleep with a satin cap or pillowcase to help keep the moisture locked in,” she says.

13. Cascading Braids

Danai Gurira looking glam in a black and gold dress, gold dangling earrings, and braided hairstyle
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

Danai Gurira ruled the red carpet in her Nefertiti-style braids, which were complemented with a gilded hairband. Her romantic take on cornrows is a great way to incorporate trendy headbands into your braided styles.

14. Fulani Braids

Erica Ash wearing a tribal-patterned dress and rocking Fulani Braids hairstyle
Photo by Leon Bennett / Stringer/Getty Images

Erica Ash opted for a tribal African style with her Fulani braids, which were accented by large, wooden beads. “Fulani braids are typically styled in unique patterns of thin-to-medium tight braids and often incorporate accessories and beads,” says Fuentes.

15. Waist Length

Gabrielle Union looking glam in a shimmery green and brown cocktail dress and rocking a waist-length braided hairstyle
Photo by Neilson Barnard / Staff/Getty Images

Gabrielle Union wings again by keeping it classic and cool with long cornrows that reach down to her waist. Her hairstylist wove in hair extensions to help her achieve the Rapunzel-like length.

16. Albaso Braids

Jourdan Dunn looking chic in a white dress and Albasso Braids hairstyle
Photo by Tim P. Whitby / Stringer/Getty Images

Jourdan Dunn’s style hails from the Ethiopian and Eritrean tribes. “Albaso braids are a great twist (no pun intended) to traditional cornrows,” says Fuentes. “It’s a mix between large cornrows braided over rolled hair and small cornrows.” The braids often stop halfway, leaving the rest of the tresses out in their natural state. In this case, Dunn’s Albaso braids stopped right after the crown.

17. Jumbo Braid

Issa Rae looking chic in a white suit, green smokey eye look, and side-swept big braids hairstyle
Photo by Amy Sussman / Staff/Getty Images

Issa Rae’s jumbo braid added volume as the braid began at the crown and wrapped around, giving way to a beautiful side braid.

18. Wispy Edges

Alicia Keys looking chic in a purple suit, diamond-studded earrings, and cornrow braided hairstyle
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

Alicia Keys proves that cornrows on short hair are just as chic as long with her straight-back braids that meet at the nape of her neck.

19. Braided Bangs

Lupita Nyong'o looking chic in a black and white geometric outfit and braided hairstyle with braided bangs
Getty Images / Staff

Lupita Nyong’o is no stranger to braided hairstyles, and her latest look was beyond cool. She complimented her braids with braided bangs, which served up total ‘80s vibes.

20. Bantu Braids

Megalyn Echikunwoke looking bold in a neon green shirt, green eyeshadow look, and cornrows hairstyle with Bantu knots
Photo by Rich Fury / Staff/Getty Images

Megalyn Echikunwoke opted for a Bantu knot updo, rocking cornrows with Bantu braids on the side. Bonus: After enjoying your bantu knots, take them down and let your natural texture show with a bantu knot-out.

21. Mega Pony

Keke Palmer looking cool in a white jacket, jeans, and braided high ponytail hairstyle
Photo by Monica Schipper / Stringer/Getty Images

Keke Palmer’s mega pony has cornrows gather on the top of her head and cascade down her back. Braids were also used to fasten her ponytail.

22. Braided Band

Zazie Beetz in a spaghetti strapped dress and rocking a curly updo with braided hair as headband
Photo by Tommaso Boddi / Stringer/Getty Images

Zazie Beetz’s curly updo lets her natural hair shine with curly hair woven into a crown braid to mimic a headband.

23. Space Buns

Tessa Thompson looking cool in a big, denim winter jacket and braided hairstyle with space buns
Photo by Rich Fury / Staff/Getty Images

Tessa Thompson went for a fun, 90s futuristic style with box braids and two space buns on each side.

24. French Braids

Tracee Ellis Ross looking elegant in a white, venus-cut dress, long dangling earrings, and French braids hairstyle
Photo by Alex Wong / Staff/Getty Images

Tracee Ellis Ross parted her hair in the middle to create two French braids, which start at the crown before opening up to thicker braids on each side. This romantic, classic style is so easy to recreate at home.

25. Cool, Loose Ends

Marsai Martine looking glam in a textured, white dress, light blue green eyeshadow look, and braided hairstyle woven with silver ribbon
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

Marsai Martin sported small cornrows with loose ends. She also wove ribbon through her crown braid to add a romantic touch to her overall look.

26. Waterfall Pony

Amandla Stenberg looking glamorous in a textured cream dress and waterfall braided hairstyle
Photo by Neilson Barnard / Staff/Getty Images

Amandla Stenberg’s waterfall ponytail added a bold burst of color to her ensemble thanks to the blue extensions woven into her cornrows for a fun, fashion-forward twist. Simply feed in faux hair in any color to recreate these cornrow braids.

27. Pigtails

Storm Reid wearing a brown outfit and rocking a braided pigtails hairstyle
Photo by Neilson Barnard / Staff/Getty Images

Has braiding hair ever looked so intricate? Storm Reid took her cornrows to the next level by using the small braids to create two chunky braids that hung on each side in cute pigtail braids. Her subtle baby hairs were slicked down and were the perfect compliment to her style.

28. High Pony

Laura Harrier looking chick in a black and red rose dress and braided hairstyle
Photo by Robin Marchant / Stringer/Getty Images

Tired of wearing your hair down? Why not pull your cornrows back into a high, braided ponytail? Laura Harrier’s waist-length braids were worn over one shoulder to create a statement look that you can easily recreate at home.

29. Scrunchie

Jordyn Woods wearing a grey cotton dress and rocking a braided hairstyle with animal print scrunchie
Photo by Tommaso Boddi / Stringer/Getty Images

Jordyn Woods pulled her box braids back in a half-up, half-down hairstyle that served up serious ‘90s vibes as her hair cascaded around her giving way to loose ends. She added to the retro hairstyle by fastening the style with an animal-print scrunchie.

30. Side Swept

Tia Mowry looking chic in a white ensemble and side-swept braided hairstyle
Photo by Rob Kim / Stringer/Getty Images

Tia Mowry paired cornrows on one side of her scalp with box braids for a dramatic, side swept hairstyle that complemented her long cornrows perfectly. Her technique added volume and texture to her braided hairstyle and accentuated her gorgeous cheekbones.

From big cornrows to goddess braids and even single braids, these braid styles serve up serious inspiration that are perfect for any occasion.

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About the author
Runa Rhattacharya
Runa Bhattacharya
Runa is an NYC-based writer and Registered Nurse with over 8 years of experience covering beauty and wellness. She’s worked for publications like SELF, Cosmopolitan, and more. She’s passionate about beauty, science, and two careers that she loves!
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Article Last Updated March 6, 2023 12:00 AM