How to Braid Cornrows: The Excruciatingly Long Verson

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The Super Duper Instructions

So you've read the other instructions at the How to Braid Cornrows page, the Long Verson, and the Photo Version, and are still confused?

Don't feel bad.  Some things take a bit of time, and need to be explained a few different ways before they're really understood.  I had the same problem with Geometry the first time around.

So here is the extremely long version, with tips in the places where people often get flubbed up when attempting their first cornrows. Please give this page time to load, because it has 15 images.  If it doesn't work the first time, click "Refresh" in your browser's toolbar.

First, plan your style.  Think about what kind of a pattern you want the braids to be in.  As a beginner, start with simple patterns like straight front to back, or the "sunray" design where they all start at one point on the hairline and radiate outwards.

Once you've planned your style, part the hair so that you can focus on the first track.  Do not try to part out the whole pattern at the start.  Focus on the first one, which is called the guide braid.  For a straight front to back style, this will probably be at the center of the head.  Secure the rest of the hair away with a rubber band or hair clip so it stays out of the way.

Remember, do your parting with a rat tail comb, or the top prong of a regular comb or pick .  A rat tail comb tends to work best though.

Once you have your first potential row in front of you and ready to braid, take some hair from the beginning of this row.

This should be the minimum amount you need to braid comfortably.  A common mistake is to start out with too much hair.  Starting with too much makes it look messy, and adds too much tension to the hairline or whatever place on the head the cornrow originates.
Now, divide this into three strands, and prepare to do an underhand individual braid stitch. 
By underhand, we mean that the cycle of the braid is accomplished by twisting the strands under one another.
Bring the current left strand under the current middle strand, but between it and the right strand, so that it becomes the middle strand.
Now, bring the current right strand under the current middle strand, between it at the current left strand.

Once again, bring the current left strand under the current middle strand, between it at the current right strand.
You have now completed one individual braid cycle, so now it's time for the cornrowing to begin.

Bring the strands more towards yourself.  It is best to start with two in one hand, and one in the other, and to pass the strands back and forth between your fingers.  Because you will be working with the hair close to the scalp, it is best to keep your nails short.
You are going to be pulling hair from farther down the row, into the braid, so be prepared that you are always going to be reaching for new hair under where your braid is.
Take some of the loose hair from just under where your braid is.  To avoid confusion, it's easiest to take a kind of triangular wedged part of it, using your pointer finger with a "dipping" motion, or your pointer and thumb to pinch a little.
This new hair is going to be joined with the middle strand.
Join the new hair with the middle strand.  Then prepare to continue the braiding cycle.
Bring the right strand under the middle strand, thus making it the new middle strand.
Take some loose hair from just under where your braid is.
Join this hair to the new middle strand.

Bring the left strand under, to the middle.
Take some hair from just under where the braid is, and join it to the new middle.

In the end, the cycle will look something like this.

Hopefully this will help with any confusion.  Still, if you have questions, feel free to ask.

How to Braid Cornrows
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Long Version
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