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Box Braids Vs. Cornrows: Which One Is Better?

If you like braiding styles, you definitely heard about these two popular braid types: Box Braids and Cornrows. While both of these braided hairstyles are excellent for protecting your natural hair and providing a low-maintenance option, there are differences between them.

In this article, you’ll discover the differences between box braids and cornrows so you can instantly recognize them. This will help you make the best choice if you want to opt for one of these.

Box Braids

woman with box braids
Box Braids, Model – Inashan, Photographer – Baciu Foto

Box braids are single braids that are only attached to your scalp at the root of the “box” they start and hang from. All the hair aree divided into squares, triangles, or rhombuses, which can be smaller or larger by choice, and from which each braid would start.

They are usually made together with synthetic hair added and can be as long and thick as you like. Of course, the colors are also by choice.

On regular box braids, a piece of synthetic hair would be wrapped around the root to grab all the hair from a box together and tighten the base, and then start the classic 3-strand braiding technique.

Knotless box braids would directly start with the braiding technique and the synthetic hair would be mixed with the natural one at the root or gradually fed in.

Box braids can be washed almost like your natural hair, styled in various ways, and last up to two months.

The cost of box braiding depends on the braids’ amount, size, length, hairstylist’s range, and geographical location, but an average price for box braids would be between 150$ and 300$.


cornrow braids

Cornrows are braids that are continuously attached to your scalp. They follow the path drawn on the scalp, and there are unlimited different patterns that you can try.

The paths can be wide or narrow, straight, curved, or angular, directed down, on a side, or up towards the top of the head, and so many other options. But once you opt for a pattern, you can’t style it very much in another way, as they are fixed on the scalp and unmovable.

It is also used and useful to use synthetic hair on cornrows, and they can be placed once at the start of the braid or gradually added, which is called feeding cornrows or feed-in braids, and look more natural. The length, color, and amount of extension hair are by choice.

Cornrows can be also washed, but you don’t have as much access as you have for box braids. They usually last no more than four weeks.

The number of braids mostly influences cornrows’ prices, but the hairstylist’s range, geographical location, and other factors can also influence it. The average price will be +/- 120$.

Difference Between Box Braids and Cornrows

Box Braids and Cornrows
Box Braids Vs. Cornrows (Photos from Archive, ©Ina Shan ©HairstyleCamp)

Below is a comparison table showing the differences between box braids and cornrows so that you can have an easy-to-read summary of the two styles.

Box BraidsCornrows
Box-shaped braids, typically larger in sizeNarrow, straight braids that sit closely against the scalp
Three-strand braid that wraps hair around itself and just hangs from the scalpThey are continuously attached to the scalp.
Box braids can be styled in various ways after being installed, like updos, ponytails, etc.You can choose from a variety of patterns, but you can’t style them much after they are installed.
They can last up to two months.They can last up to one month.
Average price +/-250$Average price +/- 120$
Takes longer to install due to the larger size of the braidsTakes a shorter time due to the smaller size of the braids
Tightly braided with more tension on the scalpYou can braid with minimal tension on the scalp
High maintenance due to the larger size of the braidsLow maintenance but requires regular tightening to prevent frizzing or unraveling


similarities between box braids and cornrows

Both styles are very versatile in the options you can make, and they can look as glamorous or as tribal as you want. The smaller the braids are, the bigger the price and working time, and the more they can last.

Box braids can be also mixed with cornrows. The most common styles of mixed ones are Fulani braids type or mohawk box braids with sides cornrows.

Box braids and cornrows are amazing versatile styles, and you should try them if you like braids. Each experience differs, and you can opt for your unique combination of sizes, lengths, colors, and so on.

Have a great braids journey, and keep loving your hair!


Box braids or cornrows: which one is better?

The best is the one that suits your necessities and preferences. If you want a quick and less expensive style and don’t need it to last very long, try some large cornrows.

If you want to keep it as much as possible and have the possibility to style it in different ways, pick up small box braids.

Do box braids damage my hair? What about cornrows?

Both styles can damage your hair if they are excessively tightened. Knotless box braids should be less harmful than box braids. There should be no pain when getting those styles in order to be safe.

Also, you need to clean and hydrate your scalp while wearing them, take breaks between one and another session, don’t keep them for too long, and carefully detangle your hair when unbraiding them.

Are cornrows and box braids the same?

No, cornrows and box braids are not the same. Cornrows are braids that are closely braided to the scalp in straight rows, while box braids are sectioned into square-shaped parts and braided into individual plaits that hang freely.

Can I have box braids on straight hair? What about cornrows?

Yes, you can have box braids, cornrows, or both mixed styles on straight hair or any other hair type.

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