Learning how to cornrow has been a struggle for me, I started watching videos and reading tutorials back in the summer (2011) and tried to learn to cornrow a little bit, but I couldn’t quite get it, the braids never looked that great, my technique was sloppy and I decided to “take a break” from learning. I recently picked it back up again, you can se and I’m proud to say it is going well. I have been practicing, practicing and then practicing some more. I haven’t read anymore tutorials or watched anymore videos, it’s just been about me finding my own technique and then practicing it. Here are a few photos from the past two months, you can see my (slow) improvements.
D had had her hair in box braids in for the month of January, mid month I took down the box braids in the front, they were getting a little fuzzy, and I put two cornrows in front:
Not great, I know, but I’m showing these in order to show my progress, you see this was just the beginning. These braids are actually more difficult than smaller straight backs, I’ve learned. This style also marked the start of Kandy Land Kurls 8 Week Protective Style Challenge and I was determined to get better at cornrow, so I used this challenge as an excuse opportunity to practice.
The second week of the challenge I did a flat twist style, but the third week I was back to cornrows. Week 3 I did her whole head in 5 large straight back cornrows, there was a little improved. I have since learned that larger cornrows are more difficult, at least for me, than smaller ones, likewise really small cornrows are harder for me to do that medium/small sized braids.
Week 4 I just divided the largest braids into, did another straight back style with 7-8 braids this time, nothing special, still just practicing trying to improve my technique. And that is the best advice I can offer anyone who is just beginning to cornrow, practice makes prefect and you will get better with practice. Practice with easy, simple, basic cornrow styles like these when you first start out.
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Week 5 I got a little more brave and creative with it, lol, I just free styled this starting with diagonal parts on the right side of her head.
That is all the cornrows I’ll show for now, but there will be more coming soon!! Now on to some tips and advice on cornrowing.
What I’ve learned about cornrows:
It’s easiest for me to cornrow hair that is completely dry and has been stretched by banding. Before I was trying to braid on wet hair and damp hair thinking it would be easier, not so. But experiment and see what is easiest for you.
Small-medium sized cornrows are easier that large and tiny cornrows.
I have to make a conscious effort to keep my hands close to her scalp to avoid loose cornrows. I would start off good, but as I would get to the end the braid it would loosen up and the cornrow would come away from the scalp, like this:
I want to leave you with some cornrowing tips I have gotten from my colleagues that I have found them very helpful in my learning how to cornrow.
“I’d say, don’t worry about your hand technique looking like everyone else. when I first started braiding I thought I was doing it wrong because I didn’t hold my hands like most braiders. At the end of the cornrow my braids and their braids looked the same. You have to do what’s comfortable to you.”
-Kandy Land Kurls
“Don’t expect it to look perfect when you’re first learning…your braiding will slowly improve as you keep practicing.”
“When first learning, the bigger your braids are the sloppier they will look, but if you do them smaller they will appear neater.”
“The most IMPORTANT word of advice I got for cornrowing was to make sure that my hands were comfortable when doing the braid… A comfortable hand equals a nice, neat braid… When you get to contorting your hands and straining them, that WILL show in the braid style.”
-Once Upon a Curl
“Start with flat twisting. It’s easier and helps get your hands acquainted with picking up hair as you go. Then start trying w/a simple style like a headband or short rows in the front or side to keep hair away from the face..”
“Add hair only to the middle section of your braid as you go along.”
“I learned to cornrow cause I knew how to French braid, I taught myself to do both, I can only say practice makes perfect or at least better. It is an easy concept if you can watch someone do it.”
“Some people say not to try it on wet hair, but I find it easier to braid with damp hair at least, that way it stays together and doesn’t slip away from me as easily! Especially when learning. And as always, don’t make it too tight! I would also encourage people to just try it and don’t worry if your method isn’t the same as someone else’s – as long as the end product looks how you want it to it doesn’t matter how you held the hair, or where you added pieces from, etc.”
-Girly and Curly