Let’s get back to braiding basics. Here’s how it’s done.
Step-by-step, here are the products you need to care for your natural hair as you grow that awesome afro.
In case you haven’t noticed, cornrows – AKA straight back braids, or straight backs as they’re more commonly known in South Africa – are undergoing a resurrection in popularity. This couldn’t have come at a better time! We’re about to enter the colder, dryer months after all, and the various cornrow braid hairstyles on offer are great protective options if you’re looking for something that requires minimal upkeep.
But where do you even begin? How exactly do you get those braids just right for autumn and winter? Don’t worry, whether you’re looking to rock them like a goddess, from straight to swirly and everything in-between, we’re here to help!
First off, what exactly are cornrows? To put it simply, it’s a traditional African hairstyle where sections of hair are braided together, close to the scalp, to create raised rows.
Before you begin braiding, you’ll want to at least condition your hair. This will ensure that your lovely locks are not only kept healthy, but that they’re easy to brush through too. Try Dark and Lovely’s Au Naturale Knot Out Conditioner for a moisture-rich recipe that will protect your hair from dryness and breakage.
Once your tresses are nice and manageable, brush through them to get rid of any potential knots. Then, think about the specific style you want to pull off – it’s important to visualise how it’s going to look – so you can outline each individual row accordingly. The safest bet for first-timers is to go for a standard straight approach, where the braids simply flow from the front of your head to the back.
Now for the fun part! With your hair still damp, use a fine comb to outline the path you want your rows to follow, and divide all your hair into sections. These will be the rows. Keep in mind that your overall framework will change depending on how thin or thick you want your cornrows to be. Start by holding a small section of hair at the front of your head, and divide the hair behind it in two. You now have three braidable strips to work with.
Braid the right strip over the middle one, and then cross the left strip over the middle one too. Finally, bring the middle strip over the left strip. Make sense? Right over middle, left over middle, middle over left, repeat.
Carry on until you reach the tips of your hair, then secure the cornrow however you see fit – with a hair clip, tie, or anything else. Replicate this process for all your other hair sections until you’re done!
Now that you’re the proud owner of gorgeous, trending cornrows, you’ll want to make sure they always look great. The key is to moisturise regularly. Use Dark and Lovely’s Au Naturale Anti-Itch Scalp Soother, a lotion with jojobal oil and peppermint oil, or Mizani Scalp Care Calming Lotion, with menthol, eucalyptus oil, aloe vera and avocado oil, to keep your rows looking fresh and shiny every day – as well as keep your scalp soothed and comfortable. Other options, in convenient spray format, are Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Wash-Free Braid Refresher and multipurpose favourite Mizani 25 Miracle Milk.
If you find that you’re struggling to get the look right or maintain your desired style, visiting a professional is always a good option. An expert at your preferred hair salon will be more than happy to help you obtain the perfect cornrows, suited to your specific hair type, and tell you exactly how to look after them, too.
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