What Should I Put in My Hair Before Cornrowing it: Cornrow Basics for Beginners

Are you thinking of getting cornrows? It’s highly likely that if you’re, you’re wondering what should I put in my hair before cornrowing it. It’s a question that many people who get cornrows ask.

Cornrows, like any other hairstyle, require specific products and materials to be worn correctly. These include shampoos, conditioners, hair oil, grease, and sometimes, hair extensions.

After reading through this, you’ll know everything you need to use on your hair before you can get your cornrows installed. Let’s get into it!

What Should You Consider Before Cornrowing Your Hair

What Should You Consider Before Cornrowing Your Hair

You need to know that every hairstyle requires some care regime. Before you can get your cornrows done, you need to learn about the basics of cornrows. We’ve talked about all of it in detail below:

1. Hair Length and Texture

Hair Length and Texture

The first thing you need to be aware of is how long your hair needs to be for your cornrows to look good. The required length of the hair depends on your hair texture. You can find more information below:

  • For hair that is very curly or frizzy, you need to grow your hair till it’s at least 5 inches long to get the perfect cornrows.
  • In the case of hair that is a bit straight or curly, the perfect length is around 6 inches.
  • And lastly, for straight or wavy hair, around 7-8 inches is the optimal length for cornrows.

2. Style

There are different variations of cornrows. Depending on your preference, you can get one of the following:

a. Big Cornrow Braids

Big Cornrow Braids

As the name suggests, this cornrow style consists of 2 or more rows of big braids covering the whole head. This variation is the easiest to do and maintain due to the size of the braids.

b. Cornrow Side Braid

Cornrow Side Braid

Done on one or both sides of your head, this variation allows you to combine two or more hairstyles to give yourself a unique look.

c. Small Cornrow Braids

Small Cornrow Braids

Also known as “Lemonade braids,” these small braids are extremely low maintenance and long-lasting, although it takes quite a while to get them done.

3. Hair Condition

The condition of your hair is essential in making your cornrows long-lasting. If your hair and scalp aren’t healthy and you still get cornrows installed, you’ll have to get them undone much sooner than you want.

To ensure that you can keep your cornrows for as long as possible, consult with a hairstylist and do as they suggest to have a healthy and clean scalp before you get your cornrows installed.

4. Pre-Braiding Preparation

Pre-Braiding Preparation

There are specific steps and procedures that you need to follow before you can get your cornrows installed. Although they might like much work, they are essential if you want clean, beautiful braids. These steps include but are not limited to the following:

  • Washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove all the dirt and debris.
  • Applying a conditioner to moisturize and smoothen your hair.
  • Oiling or greasing your hair so it can be easily maneuvered into sections.

5. Number of Cornrows

Number of Cornrows

How many rows of braids your cornrow will have is up to you. Depending on your hair length and type, you can get:

  • Two cornrow braids that are done either on the sides or the top of your head.
  • Four cornrow braids that cover both sides and the top of your scalp.
  • Six cornrow braids that encompass your entire head.
  • Or multiple small cornrow braids done in multiple places or on your scalp.

6. Type of Braiding Material

Braids can be done either on natural or synthetic hair. When there’s not enough hair or if the wearer wants longer cornrows than can be done with their natural hair, hairstylists use artificial hair to make up for the missing hair or length. The various types of artificial hair found are as follows:

  • Kanekalon: The most preferred artificial hair for braiding. This artificial hair type is famous for being available in various lengths and colors.
  • Toyokalon: Toyokalon hair resembles human hair, which makes it the top choice for those who want a natural look from their artificial hair extensions.
  • Synthetic: Cheaper than other artificial hair extension types, synthetic hair is probably the most commonly used hair extension.
  • Spectra: Spectra is an eco-friendly hair extension best used for crochets and braids.
  • Afrelle: An excellent choice for those looking to get a sleek style done on them, the afrelle hair extension is a soft yet strong hair extension.

7. Hair Accessory

Like every other hairstyle, cornrows need some accessories so that they can be installed correctly. These are typically accessories that you already have on hand. They include:

  • Tail Comb.
  • Hair bands.
  • A wide-toothed comb.

8. Hair Styling Products

Various products are required to style cornrows perfectly. These include:

  • A strong-hold hair gel to keep baby hair in place
  • A conditioner to smoothen hair.
  • Styling mousse that helps maneuver hair.

9. Maintenance

Cornrows can be kept for a while, given that they are well-maintained. You should only be getting cornrows if you’re willing to put in the work required to keep them looking good, build-up free, and clean.

Maintaining cornrows includes washing them when required so no build-ups accumulate at their roots, oiling your braids twice a week to give your hair the nutrition it needs to grow, and loosening your braids a little.

Keep in mind that cornrows are a type of braid and that no braids should be kept for more than eight weeks, or they start damaging your hair and scalp.

What to Do Before Getting Cornrows

What to Do Before Getting Cornrows

Before installing your cornrows, you must go through a few steps to ensure they come out perfect. These steps consist of the following:

I. Wash and Condition Your Hair

Simply put, yes, you must wash your hair before braiding it. Your hair accumulates a lot of dirt, debris, and natural oil that settles on your scalp. You will damage your hair if you install your braids without cleaning them.

To ensure minimal damage on your hair and scalp, wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo and condition it correctly before getting your braids done.

II. Trim Any Dead Ends

Dead ends make your hair split and break if you get your cornrows done without trimming them, the hair in your willing to break and fall.

To mitigate hair breakage and fall, get a professional hairstylist to trim all your dead ends, then install your cornrows.

III. Moisturizing Your Hair

Not only does moisturizing your hair give it more flexibility, but it also makes it smoother and easier to section.

Apart from that, since it becomes tough to moisturize your hair once you get your braids appropriately done, it is better to moisturize it beforehand. You can apply coconut oil, olive oil, or peppermint oil and let it sit for a while before washing. This will moisturize your hair and give it the nutrition it needs to grow.

What Moisturizer is Good for Braids?

Not all moisturizers work for every hair type or style. Depending on the type or the style, the type of moisturizer also varies. In the case of braids, you can moisturize them using a mixture of water and a light oil such as jojoba oil, olive oil, or coconut oil.

Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray all over your scalp for optimal results.

You can also use a leave-in conditioner like the Creme of Nature Strength and Shine Leave-In Conditioner with Argan Oil to moisturize your braids.

IV. Apply a Deep Conditioner

One of the best ways to care for your hair is by deep conditioning it. This is even more relevant when caring for your hair before braids. Deep conditioning not only prevents hair loss but also reduces dryness in your hair.

Deep conditioning your hair before braids will ensure that your hair has enough moisture and that your braids will last longer. To deep condition your hair, follow the steps below:

  • See if your hair is dirty; if it is, shampoo it first.
  • Apply a deep conditioner that suits your hair type.
  • Spread it all over your scalp with a comb.
  • If possible, leave the conditioner overnight and wash it off with cold water the following day.

V. Soak Your Hair in Water

Soaking your hair in water before braiding it will make it shinier, softer, and easier to move around in sections. To correctly soak your hair in water, do the following:

  • Go about your regular shampooing routine first.
  • Pour warm water mixed little apple cider vinegar on your hair.
  • Let it sit for 4-5 minutes.
  • Wash it off thoroughly.

VI. Use a Lightweight Oil

Yes, you should. Not only does oiling your hair moisturize it, but it also provides your hair with the nutrients it needs to grow. Remember that once you get your braids done, it’ll no longer be easy to oil the roots of your hair.

This is why you should oil your hair and scalp with lightweight oil, such as olive oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil before you do your braids.

What Oil to Use for Cornrows

When looking for an oil to put on your cornrows, pick one that’ll help provide nutrition to your hair and scalp, will help control baby hair and frizz, and reduce the tension braids can put on your hair.

Lightweight oils like sweet almond oil, shea butter, tea tree, jojoba oil, olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, or wheat germ oil can all be used for this purpose. Put your preferred oil in an applicator bottle and carefully apply it all over your scalp for the best results.

Can I Spray Olive Oil on My Cornrows

Olive oil is a light oil with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Spraying it on your cornrows will not only moisturize them, but it’ll also prevent dandruff formation on your scalp.

Is Coconut Oil Good for Braiding Hair

Applying coconut oil to your hair and braids is one of the most essential parts of air care. It has anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties and is full of essential fatty acids. Its properties ensure that it’ll prevent any dandruff or fungal production.

While the fatty acids mean it’ll stay in your hair longer, and with its high moisture retaining capability, it’ll keep your braids hydrated for longer.

How Often Should I Put Oil in My Cornrows

To ensure proper care of your hair and that it’s moisturized correctly, you should oil your cornrows at least twice a week. Depending on your needs, you can put the following oil in your cornrows:

  • Almond or olive oil to combat dandruff.
  • Argan oil to take care of coarse hair.
  • Grapeseed or jojoba oil if you have oily hair.

VII. Braid Spray

With added conditioning agents, braid sprays help provide the necessary moisture to your hair. As for which spray to use, you can see the next part.

Which spray is good for braids?

The Strickland & Co Sulphur 8 Medicated Anti-Dandruff Conditioner is great for reducing dryness and itchiness of the scalp and also comes in handy in combating dandruff.

African Pride Braid Sheen Spray is Made for braids, twists, and knots, this spray soothes soreness of the scalp, provides your hair with nutrition, and smoothens your braids.

What Should You Not do with Cornrows

What Should You Not do with Cornrows

We talked about what you need to do to keep your cornrows proper this far. Let’s now talk about the thing you should avoid doing if you want your cornrows to last long. Don’t:

  • Leave your cornrows unwashed for too long.
  • Avoid greasing your scalp once you have your cornrows in as that might lead to product build-up.
  • Don’t get them done too tightly, as that’ll stain your hair and hair follicles.

What Products to Use When Braiding Hair

What products you use when getting braids can either give you great braids or ruin them. This is why you should go for products that don’t damage your hair and provides the best results. For your braids, you can use:

  • African Pride Olive Miracle Anti-Breakage Braid Sheen Spray to combat hair breakage and hair fall.
  • Murrays Unlock Spray Quick Release Braid Spray to detangle and condition your braids.
  • The Roots Naturelle Braid Sheen Braid Spray moisturizes, controls frizz, and makes your braids shinier.

What Does Mousse do to Cornrows

Mousse is one of the few products that don’t cause a lot of build-up on your scalp. Apart from that, mousse also does the following:

  • Prevents frizz.
  • Gives shine to braids.

Related Articles:

  • Were Cornrows Used as Maps: How Hairstyles Saved Lives
  • Are Cornrows Cultural Appropriation
  • History Of Cornrows in Slavery
  • Who Invented Cornrows
  • History Of Cornrows
  • History of Braids in Slavery



Yes, oiling provides your hair with moisture and the necessary nutrition for growth. And since it’s not easy to oil your hair and scalp after braiding, you should do it before.


You can spray moisturizing spray, detangling spray, anti-breakage spray, and different oils like coconut oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil on your hair before braiding to ensure proper hair care.


You can use a setting spray or a hard gel to seal your cornrows in place.


Soaking braiding hair in vinegar removes alkaline from hair and prevents itchiness.


Instead of hair gels, you can use a pomade, hair wax, or a hair spray on your braids.


Cornrows are a great protective hairstyle that prevents hair breakage and dehydration.


Greasing your hair before braiding helps lock moisture in, so you should definitely grease your hair before braiding.


Braids require a gel that has a stronghold. You can check out the AllDay Locks Braid Gel that’ll serve your needs perfectly.


The white foam seen on the braids is setting spray, which is used to keep braids in place.


The white cream used for braids is known as a braid cream that keeps braids moisturized.

Related Articles:


Getting yourself the hairstyle of your choice can bring a lot of joy to your life. But to do that, you need to know about the hows of taking care of your hair so that whatever hairstyle you get lasts you a while. In the case of cornrows, you should ask yourself, what should I put in my hair before cornrowing it?

Once you ask yourself that question and you start looking for answers, you’ll find that they require as much care as any other hairstyle. This is where we come in. We collected all the answers and steps you need to know to care for your hair before and after getting cornrows.

If you’ve read this far along, we hope we were able to provide the necessary help.

By Cindy Mahlangu

Hey there! I'm Cindy Mahlangu, a pro hairstylist with a serious passion for natural hair care. My mission? To inspire and educate others on the beauty and benefits of protective hairstyles. Through my creative writing, aim to empower individuals to embrace their unique hair texture and confidently care for their locks. So, whether you're rocking locs, braids, or twists, join me on this hair journey and let's achieve healthy, fabulous tresses together!

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