It’s an amazing time to be a protective style junkie, and doubly so if cornrows happen to be your style of choice. Merged with memories of Blue Magic and Luster’s Pink Hair Lotion, many Black people can recall a time in their lives when cornrows were not only a staple, but a way of life. The weekly ritual of gathering all the hair greases and rattail combs, sitting on the floor in front of our mothers and the TV, and trying not to move too much as they cornrowed our curly and kinky hair is forever etched into our collective consciousness. 

It’s heartwarming to know that those nostalgic styles are still popular and just as culturally relevant now as they were in our childhood–and in the many generations before us. We’re seeing countless fresh takes on the historic braided style via social media and red carpets that build on the elegance and functionality of the look, but with a modern touch. Continue on for a round up of 15 cornrow styles to take to your next braiding appointment, or (if you’re ambitious”> attempt yourself.

1. Half-Up Half Down

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In that moment when you’re indecisive about going for an up-do or styling your cornrows down, remember you can do both. Get your hair cornrowed in the front for a sleeker look, and then individual box braids in the back. Ask your stylist to leave tendrils of hair undone for that “effortless” effect.

2. Chunky Middle Part 

15 Cornrow Styles to Show Your Braider For Your Next Look

Photo: @pearlthestylist_

Popularized by the late rapper Pop Smoke, this style is symmetrical and straightforward, but still so fly. Stylist and braid coach @pearlthestylist perfected this by making the braids chunky, long and ridiculously neat. 

Want more? Here are 13 Styles That Will Convince You to Try Chunkier Braids

3. Double Braids 

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Watch as actress Tia Mowry gets four big stitch braids that cascade into two chunky double braids. 

4. Intricate Zig-Zags

15 Cornrow Styles to Show Your Braider For Your Next Look

Photo: @melissa_veronique

This is the remedy for straight-back cornrow fatigue. Snake-like zig-zag patterns shake things up and help keep protective styling interesting. And, as always, accessorize the look with beads.

5. Low Bun

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Low buns are sultry and graceful. This cornrowed bun features braids of different sizes which is even more eye-catching. And if you usually blow dry your hair before protective styling, look into the Oribe Supershine Light Moisturizing Cream as a base–as used here by @curlycrys

6. Pigtails

15 Cornrow Styles to Show Your Braider For Your Next Look

Photo: @nikethegawdess

The pigtails of your childhood, but very much elevated. Recreate this innovative look by joining smaller cornrows by braiding back and adding hair as you go to create two thick, full braided ponytails. You may want to hit up a professional for this one. 

7. Understated Parts

15 Cornrow Styles to Show Your Braider For Your Next Look

Photo: @ayxvna

As opposed to other braided styles where parting can make or break the look, these braids have very understated parts. The braids are done very close together and have more of a natural, less “done up” feel.

8. Half-Cornrowed

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The DIY crowd will love this one. If you’re running low on time or simply don’t have it in you to cornrow your whole head, just braid up the front and define the back with your typical favorite products. 

Have flakes? Check out How to Manage Those Irritating Scalp Flakes When You’ve Got Braids

9. Long Straight Backs

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Straight backs will always be the “little black dress” classic of braided styles. And you can spice things up a little by opting for the stitch pattern, making them longer, or curling the ends. 

10. Ponytail with Bangs

15 Cornrow Styles to Show Your Braider For Your Next Look

Photo: @infinity_beautylounge

There’s something about bangs, no matter what the hairstyle is. Ask your stylist to create some face-framing action with your braids, and add beads for more movement.

11. Cross Hatch Pattern

15 Cornrow Styles to Show Your Braider For Your Next Look

Photo: @vanessamatsena

Now, this is what we’d call stunning. The criss crossing pattern is unique and there’s a plethora of ways to style this because of how the braids are loose in the back.

12. Blonde Highlights

15 Cornrow Styles to Show Your Braider For Your Next Look

Photo: @ashley_masse

Color will add new depth to most hairstyles, including braids. Ask your stylist about integrating a pop of blonde into your next style for added warmth and dimension.

13. No Extensions

15 Cornrow Styles to Show Your Braider For Your Next Look

Photo: @curlie.lexi

If you’re satisfied with the length and density of your natural hair, don’t feel pressured to get extensions. Remember Alicia Keys’s cornrows from her Songs in A Minor days? That look inspired this impressive style by @curlie.lexi.

Read next: How Wearing Cornrows Helped Learn About My Roots

14. Subtle Cornrows

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This is super beginner friendly for the DIY girlies. Follow along with @naturally.nish as she braids six cornrows in total (three on each side”>, secures her hair in a bun in the center, and defines a ponytail in the back. 

15. High Ponytail

15 Cornrow Styles to Show Your Braider For Your Next Look

Photo: @naturalhairme

Nothing exudes confidence like a high ponytail. When the braided bun just isn’t cutting it, a braided ponytail adds just the right amount of drama. Adjust the thickness and size of the braids as well as the length based on your own personal style. 

Add to cart: 10 Products to Clean Your Scalp While in a Protective Style

How do you style your cornrows? Let us know if we missed your go-to style below! 

Camille Wilson

Camille Wilson

As a recent college grad with a degree in Sociology, Camille is passionate about culture and self empowerment — and she loves her type 4 hair. She’s a member of Watu Moja, a non-profit organization and cultural exchange movement that has done outreach in Kenya, and she's a partially self-taught visual artist. She’s also a low-key Beyonce enthusiast.

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