New Ways to Spice Up Cornrow Hairstyles

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By: Kaylene Bryan | Photo: @shomadjozi

If you’re anything like us, you probably grew up proudly showing your kinks and curls braided in all kinds of protective styles, cornrows likely at the forefront. But with the style being such a staple in many hair routines it’s pretty easy to fall into a rut with your cornrows and become bored with classic designs. Never sweat; there are plenty of ways to add a bit (or a lot) more excitement to this relatively low-maintenance protective style.

From elegant Fulani braids to personality-packed micros, here are some of our favorite ways to step your cornrow game up.

[Oh by the way 👋🏾, before you get cornrows, our short film, Pretty Shouldn’t Hurt, is a must-watch. Also learn all about safe protective styling here.]

Colorful Cornrows

Photo: @shomadjozi

Feeding in colored braiding hair is a great way to brighten up your cornrows while keeping your natural hair protected. The amount of hair you’ll use will depend on the size of the cornrows and how prominent you’d like the color to be.

Photo: @ kersti.pitre

For a homogenous look, ask your stylist to tuck in the colored hair throughout the braid, hiding your natural hair right underneath it. Check out the example of tucking below.

Feeling a little indecisive? Feed different colors into a single braid or create unicorn braids by adding different colors throughout.

Go Long and Wavy

Highlight your beautiful bone structure with classic all back cornrows. To add a little drama to the style, make your cornrows super long by adding hair and ask your stylist to curl the ends.

Vicky Logan seamlessly blends two fiery colors into her all back feed-in cornrows, livening up this signature design.

Two Layer Braids

Two layer braids are cornrows braided in two separate directions, though the opportunity for design doesn’t stop there. You can use your natural hair or have your stylist feed in extra hair for more length.

But length isn’t the only way to go with this look. Shorter, kinkier, natural queens can take advantage of the traditional two layer braid design too. Braid your hair in two directions, adding a bit of a curve to form a heart pattern, as shown in the picture. Then collect the ends into a low-profile bun to protect them.

Photo: @freshlengths

For a variation of two layered ‘rows, try Fulani braids. Opt for a popular version of this style by adding a jewel to the cornrow where your center part would be, then lay cascading cornrows on either side of your head.

Braid-less Leave-Outs

Photo: @kersti.pitre

Braid-less leave-outs are a perfect way to get the best of both worlds. To create Kersti Pitre’s rubber band cornrows look, part a center row of your hair into one-inch sections.

Keep the sections separate by tying off your strands with small rubber bands. Finger-twist the strands and tie them into each other with rubber bands, going back to the crown of your head. You can alternate between rubber band rows and cornrows along your crown.

Photo: @heycurlie

When you’re done styling the front section, pull your hair into a ponytail and tie wavy extensions into your natural hair. You can weave an artistic accessory like thin gold thread into the leave-out or decorate your braids with fun cowrie shells.

Cornrow Hairstyles with Jewelry and Accessories

Photo: @hairhealthhumanity

Get regal, boho or playful simply by adding hair accessories to your braids. While you can make them yourself, you’ll find many of these accessories in your local beauty supply store.

Flowers, cowries, string, hair rings, and adjustable hair cuffs that fit most cornrow sizes, are popular accessory options. One way to set yourself apart when choosing accessories is to walk the path less traveled and pick untraditional colors like these multicolored cowry shells. (You can get them here on Amazon).


So, yes cornrows, like a longterm relationship, are stable and true but need a little electricity every now and then to spice things up. And a little color, some added hair or jewelry can do just that.

What’s your go-to cornrow design? Drop your take in the comments below or over on our Insta.

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Team Unruly
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