With all the different hairstyling options available, it can be difficult to figure out which one suits your style or which one is most durable and versatile at the same time. For people who love braided hairstyles like cornrows, it can also be difficult to tell or answer the question- how long do cornrows last?
What are Cornrows?
Cornrows or cane rows are a neatly braided, flat plait which is originally from the Caribbean and Africa and gets its name from its appearance, as the plait is similar to the appearance of rows of corn or cane.
Dating back to 3,000 B.C, illustrations of African women have been recorded in Stone Age paintings. It is relatively easy to braid compared to other styles and most people usually want to know how long cornrows last before they are able to fix their hair again.
It is considered a timeless and protective style that is also incredibly easy to manage. These neat braids come in a variety of styles, from elegant lines to geometric shapes, which can take up to several hours for stylists to create, while still remaining very durable. So let’s find out exactly how long this hairstyle lasts and if your hair type is a perfect match.
How Long Do Cornrows Last
Depending on your hair type, hair growth rate, and your chosen braid size, cornrows last for different durations or lengths of time. Generally, however, an appropriate care routine can lengthen their lifespan, making them last anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks. It is usually recommended that cornrows be taken out after a maximum of 12 weeks. If not, the style can become fuzzy, or in more severe cases, cause tangling, irritation, and hair loss.
Additionally, big to medium-sized braids often last longer than smaller sized braids, due to the thickness of the hair providing more surface area and therefore more strength. Sometimes, an already irritated scalp, as well as overly tight styling can cause cornrows to have a shorter lifespan.
How Long Do Cornrows Last On Straight Hair
Cornrows on straight hair can be a tricky process. Typically, cornrows on straight hair can only last a maximum of 7 weeks. Though straight hair can be very strong, the tension on the hair from cornrows can break the individual strands, unless proper preparation is done to the hair, and upkeep is continued once the hair has been styled.
It’s important to find a professional who specializes in the complexities of straight hair. Stylists who specialize in straight hair will make sure that care is taken on the edges, or “fly-aways” while braiding, giving you a look that will last in the process. Those with straight hair may also want to try different cornrow sizes, which might help to strengthen the overall hairstyle. Specifically, a thicker braid for straight hair really helps to keep the style intact and prevent the hair from breaking.
How Long Do Cornrows Last on Natural Hair
Since natural hair is so strong and resilient, its qualities enable the style to be worn longer than other hair types. However, even natural hair shouldn’t exceed more than 12 weeks. While natural hair can hold the style for up to 12 weeks, the downside is that the scalp can become stressed and messy. Additionally, without proper maintenance, oil buildup can occur and cause irritation, weakening the braids themselves.
How Long Do Cornrows Last on Mixed Hair
Like natural hair, cornrows on mixed hair can also prove very durable. A biracial set of hair genes allows for unique qualities in the hair which often makes it very strong and an acceptable hair type for many styles. Cornrows on mixed hair can also last from 8 to 12 weeks with a proper hair care routine, though again, a 12-week maximum is recommended.
How Long Do Cornrows Last on Short Hair
Different styles of cornrows require different hair lengths. Typically, the more complex the pattern, the longer the hair is required to be. However, more basic styles, such as straight and parallelled braids, require less hair. Hair usually needs to be at least three inches in order to have cornrows done. Even with the 3 inches bare minimum hair length, so your stylist will have to be very skilled to braid effectively with this length of hair.
Ultimately, cornrows can be done on shorter hair, but if need be, you can always add extensions beforehand for a more intricate design or simply an easier and bigger braid. However, it’s best to get natural extensions for cornrows because certain chemicals within synthetic extensions can interfere and cause irritation on the scalp over time. Be warned though, that extensions, both synthetic and natural, add weight and will most likely shorten the lifespan of the cornrows since extensions have a temporary life of their own.
Using extensions in cornrows will shorten the span of the hairstyle by several weeks from the 12-week maximum period of keeping cornrows styles, making it to last for about roughly 6 or 8 weeks. This is why the best option is to try and grow your hair out for several months before having your cornrows done.
How to Maintain Cornrows
Cornrows are a hairstyle that requires proper maintenance in order to avoid hair damage, scalp irritation, and oil buildup, so here are some tips to keep your hairstyle looking great and also make it last longer.
1. Choose a Professional Stylist: Make sure you choose a professional hairstylist to do your cornrows. In particular, a hairstylist experienced in natural hair is preferred. Having credible resources ensures that the cornrows are smoothly braided and are not twisted too tightly.
2. Apply Oil to Ease Tension: Since they’re braided very close to the scalp, cornrows affect the fragile edges of the hair. If you feel the tightness of the braids or sensitivity in the scalp within the first week, it’s best to apply a natural oil twice a day. Applying oil to the edges helps to release pressure on the braids and keeps them neat.
3. Moisturize Regularly: Regularly moisturizing your cornrows is a critical step. Moisturizing helps prevent the severe dryness that can come from a part of the scalp being exposed to the sun and air in general. A dry scalp causes itching and in turn, damage to the cornrows. There are several options for moisturizing that can best suit your hair type. Usually, the most effective way to moisturize cornrows is by spraying natural-oil sheens.
Sheens are similar to sprays, except they infuse the hair rather than sit on each strand. Using oil-based sprays will merely coat the scalp in oil and create a build-up. Additionally, natural oils, such as olive oil, jojoba, and shea butter, are very effective. Alternatively, a spritz of water will also keep the scalp and braids from drying out.
4. Use a Light Haircover at Night: It’s best to wear a night cover to bed when you have cornrows. Specifically, a cover made of satin or silk that should be worn every night. Wearing a headwrap not only prevents dryness but also frizzing. Another option is sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase to maintain moisture levels in the hair. Additionally, you can also apply gel or ointment to the hairline, so it will stay in place as you sleep.
5. Wash Hair at the Right Time: Washing cornrows is an essential step to avoiding damage and an irritated scalp. However, you should not wash your cornrows until the last 2 weeks of the maximum 12-week limit. In this case, washing the cornrows is done more so as a way to extend their life and prepare for taking the braids out, as to avoid breakage. When done properly, washing maintains the cornrows. Additionally, it keeps them clean and moisturized.
The first step of washing is to cover the cornrows with a net cap. After getting your hair wet, use a small amount of sulfate-free shampoo, which will preserve the hair’s natural oils and avoid oil and dirt build-up. Instead of rubbing it onto the hair, gently press the shampoo through the net and distribute it into the braids. Afterward, use a spray bottle to gently rinse the hair or pour small amounts of water at a time. Then remove the net and pat dry with a microfiber towel or old t-shirt.
It’s best to pat dry as rubbing will cause damage and frizz. Then apply a natural oil on each braid and all over the scalp. Avoid putting synthetic-based moisturizers in your cornrows because it will sit on the roots and trigger a chemical imbalance. Consequently, this causes oversaturation in the scalp, resulting in oily hair. In this case, use natural oil-based moisturizers, which prevents dandruff and dryness. For instance, olive oil and jojoba are the best. Be sure to use sufficient amounts, directing it towards the scalp, which will decrease the normal itching sensation.
6. Apply Conditioner after Washing: After washing with shampoo, conditioner must be regularly applied. Conditioning keeps the hair strong and prevents hair breakage when unraveling the braids. Ideally, you should use a leave-in conditioner or a diluted conditioning solution for an easier wash. Shampooing and conditioning within the last 2 weeks will give the hair a nice shine and seal in moisture.
7. Protect from Harsh Weather: Cornrows should not be exposed to harsh weather. Such conditions include rain, wind, or the sun. Intense weather conditions drain the moisture from the hair, which can lead to irritation of the scalp, consequently shortening the braid’s lifespan.
8. Avoid Brushing and Combing: Finally, always avoid brushing or combing through the hair at all costs. Such rough bristles from the brushes will damage the cornrows, by tearing the already stretched strands of hair.
How Long Does it Take to Make Cornrows?
Designing and plaiting cornrows can vary in the duration. This usually depends on the complexity of the style, hair length, hair volume, and how experienced the stylist is, but a styling appointment for cornrows usually takes 1 to 4 hours.
However, there are simple and straightforward designs that take up a much shorter amount of time. For instance, two-line cornrow braids with or without extensions only need about 45 minutes. Typically bigger braids for thicker and longer hair take up less time and the shorter your hair, the longer it takes.
Should You Rest Your Hair after Cornrows?
Rather than replacing your braids with back to back appointments, you should rest your hair in between cornrows stylings. It’s best to let your hair and also your hairline breathe and go through several washes before making a new appointment. In particular, when the hairline is constantly pulled back for braiding, it can cause immense stress, breaking the hair at the root.
For the most part, cornrows are one of the best hairstyles for keeping your hair neat and stylish for a considerably long amount of time. Based on its consistent resurgence, it does not look like cornrows will be going out of style any time soon. With good maintenance and proper precautions that can prolong the cornrow’s life, they are ultimately a great option for every hair type if you find the right kind of style and stylist for you.