Sunday

Cornrowing for Beginners

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Basic tools needed:
  • A metal rat tail comb. I find this comb is the best for getting your parts as straight as possible.
  • A wide tooth comb, for detangling. I highly recommend detangling with your fingers first though.
  • Moisturizer/leave-in
  • A product with good hold
  • A spray bottle filled with water (optional)
  • Beads, barrettes, snaps, or other cute hair accessories (optional)

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Cornrowing instructions:
  1. Start with completely (properly) detangled, well moisturized hair.
  2. Section off the hair. For a beginner I would suggest first parting the hair from ear to ear so you will only be cornrowing half way back. If you want to go ahead and try doing it all the way back, then that's fine too.
  3. After the hair is parted from ear to ear, starting near the right or left ear part straight back a medium amount of hair. About the same width of your middle finger. If you are planning on cornrowing all the way back, then just straight from the right or left ear and make a backwards moon shape all the way back.
  4. Tie the rest of the hair off to the side
  5. Add your product of choice to the secion of hair
  6. Using the end of your metal rat tail comb, section off (vertically) a small amount of hair
  7. Split that small amount of hair into three sections
  8. Do a couple of regular underhanded braided stitches with those three pieces of hair.
    • Cross right piece under middle piece
    • Cross left piece under middle piece
    • Cross right piece under middle piece
    • Cross left piece under middle piece
  9. You will now start your cornrow. You will only be adding hair to the middle section of hair.
  10. With your thumb and point finger, pinch off a little bit of hair and add it to your middle section of hair.
  11. You will now cross your right piece of hair under the middle section (your right piece of hair now becomes your middle section, so you will need to add hair to your middle section, remember- we are only adding hair to our middle section)
  12. Now that you have your new middle section using your thumb and pointer finger, you will now pinch off a little bit of hair and cross your left piece of hair under your middle section of hair. (so now, your left piece of hair is now your middle section of hair)
  13. Now that you have your new middle section of hair, using your thumb and pointer finger, you will pinch off a little bit of hair and cross your right piece under your middle piece. (you now have your original middle section of hair, you want to continue doing what you have been doing- only adding hair to your middle section)
  14. Now that you have your original middle section, using your thumb and pointer finger, you want to pinch off a little bit of hair, add it to your middle section, and cross your left piece of hair under your middle section of hair.
  15. You now have a new middle section of hair, pinch off a little hair and add it to your middle section, cross your right piece of hair under your middle section of hair.
  16. You now have another new middle section of hair, pinch off a little hair and add it to your middle section of hair, cross your left piece under your middle section of hair.
  17. Finish the cornrowing process. Once you get to the end of the cornrow, you want to start doing a regular braid, braiding underhanded.

Note: Pointer finger = index finger. I like to call it pointer finger. :)

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Here's the no nonsense, straight to the point Cornrowing Instructions:
  • Section off hair
  • Part small front piece of hair in the front of that section off
  • Split that piece of hair into three sections
  • Do a couple of regular underhand stitches (right piece under middle, left piece under middle, right piece under middle, left piece under middle)
  • You will now begin cornrowing. Only add hair to the middle section.
  • Pinch off a little hair, add to middle section, now cross right piece under middle piece
  • Pinch off a little hair, add to middle section, now cross left piece under middle piece
  • Pinch off a little hair, add to middle section, now cross right piece under middle piece
  • Pinch off a little hair, add to middle section, now cross left piece under right piece
  • Continue until you're done!

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Cornrowing Tips:
  • Do not pinch off too much hair at one time. If you do this, when you get to the end of your cornrow it will leave a big gap between the end of your cornrow, and where you left off.
  • As you grab hair to add to each section, get your thumb and pointer finger close to the scalp and smooth that section of hair down. This minimizes frizz. As you cross over, smooth your sections down with your thumb and pointer finger.
  • If you do not hold the hair close down to the scalp (not tight!) your cornrow will begin to "flip and flop". Flipping and flopping is basically when the cornrow flips upside down from not having a good grip.
  • Perfect example of "flipping & flopping" cornrows: Photobucket
  • Make sure the hair is 100% properly detangled and well moisturized. So when you are cornrowing the hair back and forth it will not lead into one big knot.
  • Speaking of a big knot, I run my thumb all the way down the hair (to the ends) each time I add hair to the middle section. This is so the ends do not get knotted and tangled up.
  • Do NOT pull the hair too tight. Be as gentle as possible. Cornrowing too tight will cause little white bumps on the scalp which may lead to Traction Alopecia.
  • If you notice your childs scalp is red and seems irritated, or has little white bumps, I suggest immediately taking the style out. I also suggest doing a scalp massage.
  • After your cornrow is done, you will continue doing a regular underhanded braid down. Make sure you hold this hair steady, in one direction, otherwise you get the flipping and flopping effect here too.
  • Small/medium cornrows are much more "forgiving" than large cornrows.
  • I also recommend small/medium sized cornrows for beginners because when you are trying to work with a large section, you get overwhelmed about where you should grab the hair. At least I did. So when you're working with a small amount of hair at once, you are much more likely to know where to grab the hair and actually finish the cornrow instead of working with a large one and quickly giving up.
  • This was the first day I learned how to cornrow (thanks to this website) back in January 2009: As you can see, I started cornrowing all of her hair all the way back. I was quickly overwhelmed with the process and took them down. I did a simple cornrow/braid style instead. Photobucket
  • For a beginner, I recommend working on damp, moisturized hair. Wet hair is much too slippery in my opinion, I actually prefer working on dry, stretched, moisturized, detangled hair but I started off cornrowing on damp hair. I don't recommend cornrowing dry hair right away because there really is certain techniques you must use, from detangling, to stretching, you have to be very gentle when working with dry hair.
  • Once you advance to layered cornrows, make sure you line up the cornrows, otherwise they will look a little odd. I find that working from the very top, on down (as opposed to starting from the back/bottom and working my way up) works best. Using your metal rat tail comb, line up the parts so they are even and right under one another.


Example of cornrows that were not lined up properly: (this was my first time doing layered cornrows)
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Example of lined up layered cornrows: (this was my second time doing layered cornrows)
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Other tips:
  • Patience is KEY! If you're new at this, you will not be a pro in a day. You must be patient. Study the technique and be patient! You will get it.
  • Several people have told me they practice on a doll head because their child will not sit still long enough for them to practice the technique. So you might want to check that out if your little one likes to wiggle and move around a lot.
  • If you do have a patient one (like me, bless their hearts!) make sure you have plenty of toys, books, and snacks on hand for them. If you don't even have the technique down yet, I don't recommend trying more than 3 cornrows in one sitting. I think the first time I did 3 cornrows it took me 30 minutes or so.
  • If you need your child to lean their head side ways, get a couple of pillows. This works great for us and my daughter is very comfortable this way.
  • Try cornrowing on yourself! This is much harder than cornrowing on someone else, but if you need practice and have no one to practice on, why not?
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This was the first time I cornrowed all of her hair. (June 16th, 2009)

Before June, I was just doing very simple cornrowed styles here and there. I cornrowed her hair about half way back and put the rest in the ponytail, like I said, just simple things.
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Once you improve (and you WILL improve!) you will be able to do more styles like this: Photobucket


I hope this post helps! I highly recommend you check out THIS website as well. Had it not been for that website, I still wouldn't know how to cornrow. If this post, and that website doesn't help then make sure you go to Youtube and search "how to cornrow".


I am still learning how to improve my technique as well. I get better and better each time I cornrow. Please share any tips or tricks you may have as well!