Cornrows are an essential part of Black culture and the history of Black hair globally. The technique can incorporate various patterns and styles while the hair is braided under and against the scalp. Cornrows are considered a protective style because they’re low maintenance, low manipulation and make it easy to care for textured strands and protect them from heat, dryness and breakage. They are also the foundation for other styles. Cornrows are commonly worn underneath lacefront wigs (Tyra Banks is known for her love of a lace front and wearing cornrows underneath to protect her natural hair).
It’s reported that cornrows are the oldest hairstyle in history and the braiding technique has been around since about 3000 BC. Despite various languages, cultures and national identities, Black people around the world wear cornrows, and for many getting your hair braided is a rite of passage.
Sadly, as beautiful as cornrows are, cultural styles have been regulated for centuries. Despite the history of policing Black hair, during the 1960s and 1970s with the wave of the Black Power era came the first mainstream natural hair movement in the United States. It was an attempt to reclaim history and to reject a Eurocentric beauty standard. Many turned to wearing their hair in afros, dreadlocks and cornrows.
These stunning cornrow hairstyles celebrate natural hair, textured strands and the people the style originates from. Below, you’ll find scalp braids that incorporate other hair trends (like top knots and ponytails), as well as some outfitted with beads, charms and other accessories to help inspire your next look.