Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Differences Between Cornbraids, Dutch Braids, and French Braids

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information & videos about the differences between "Cornbraids", "Dutch Braids", and "French Braids".

The content of this post is presented for educational and aesthetic purposes.

Disclaimer: I'm not a professional hairstylist. The information that I'm posting is from various online resources. My comments are identified as such, and aren't meant to be taken as professional opinions.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who I have quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of the videos that are found in this post.

I don't know if there's any relationship between the editor of the series & the publisher of the "GirlsLoveYourCurls" videos. However, it seems to me that the information & techniques found in these two online resouces complement each other very well.

"Cornbraids", "Dutch Braids" and "French Braids" are hair braiding techniques that are favored throughout the world for their easy maintenence, their protection of the hair, and the aesthetic of the hairstyles that are created by these braiding techniques. These hair braiding techniques are particularly favored by people in regions of Africa and throughout the African Diaspora.

"Cornrows, also known as rows, braids, or canerows in the Caribbean, are a traditional African[1] style of hair grooming where the hair is braided very close to the scalp, using an underhand, upward motion to produce a continuous, raised row. Cornrows are often formed, as the name implies, in simple, straight lines, but they can also be formed in complicated geometric or curvilinear designs.

Often favored for their easy maintenance, rows can be left in for weeks at a time if maintained through careful washing of the hair and regular oiling of the scalp.*

Cornrowed hairstyles are sometimes adorned with beads or cowry shells. Depending on the region of the world, cornrows are typically worn by either men, women, or both.

A traditional way of styling hair throughout North Africa, East Africa, and West Asia, depictions of women with cornrows have been found in Stone Age paintings in the Tassili Plateau of the Sahara that have been dated as far back as 3000 B.C.[2] This tradition of female styling in cornrows has remained popular throughout Africa, particularly in North, East, and West Africa [3]. Historically, male styling with cornrows can be traced as far back as the early nineteenth century to Ethiopia, where warriors and kings such as Tewodros II and Yohannes IV were depicted wearing cornrows.

Outside of Africa and Asia, cornrows have also been worn and depicted in Europe, particularly in Greek and Roman art, and may have had a similar presence in Celtic culture."
*From my experiences, it's an exagerration to say that corn braided hair (or French braids or Dutch braids)can be left in place for weeks at a time. Depending on the texture of the hair, and other variables, I've found that these hairstyles usually need to be redone after one week or two weeks.
"Cornrows are a style of wearing the hair in very tight braids, which often have beads interwoven through them. The style originated in North Africa, and was noted among Europeans when the slave trade in that area began. Slaves in the US retained the tradition of wearing cornrows, which were fairly easy to care for once the hair was braided.

In the 1920s through 1950s, African American women often preferred straightening their hair to wearing it in cornrows. However, actress Cicely Tyson, began wearing them for the television show, “East Side/West Side” in 1963. African Americans embraced style as a sign of black pride, and they once again became popular. They were also a sign of affinity with one’s origins in Africa, since they were considered a traditional hairstyle.

This popularity led to a rise in the number of salons that could perform the complex braiding process. In 1979, white women also became entranced by the style of cornrows after the film 10 featured Bo Derek wearing her hair this way..."
I disagree with some of the statements that are made in this article. In my opinion, in the 1960s and 1970s to date only a few African Americans considered/consider cornrows to be a popular hairstyle. The popularity of that style depended upon the gender of the person, the age of the person, the economic class of the person or whether they tended to prefer a "street culture to a middle class culture". Outside of Hip-Hop culture in the 1970s to date and hairstyles for Black males that wear/are popularized (or familiarized) by that music genre, cornrows & other similar hair braiding techniques/hairstyles were traditionally considered a female hairstyle, and a hairstyle that up until 1980s in the United States weren't worn outdoors by anyone but Black girls up to around the age of twelve.

It's been my experience that since the 1990s or so African American women who usually don't wear their hair outside in cornbraids (or Dutch braids/French braids) often chose to do because they are going on a vacation to the Caribbean or otherwise going to the beach. They did so because those hairstyle are easy to maintain after a Black person's hair is immersed in water.

I very much disagree with the statement that cornbraids ever were or are now a popular hairstyle with White females - notwithstanding Bo Derek or Heidi Klum's recent outing as a "Bahama Mama" (
I believe that the term "cornrows" (and "canerows") was given to this hairstyle because when the hair is braided in a straight line in resembles the rows of corn that grow in fields.

The direction in which the portions of hair is braided determines whether the style is "Cornbraids"/“Dutch Braids” or "French braids". With Dutch braids (and corn braids) the portion of the hair is braided underhand. However, with French braids the portion of the hair is braided overhand.

For cornbraids/Dutch braids, see the video that is featured under the "Dutch braid" section.

Some people make no distinction between "Dutch braids" and "cornrows". However, if I understand it correctly, other people distinguish "Dutch braids" from cornbraids because of the amount of hair that is added with each braid. With Dutch braids only some of each portion of the hair is braided, but with cornrows all of each portion of the hair is braided to the middle of each braid.

"Next up is the Dutch braid. This braid is formed almost exactly the same was as the French braid, except for one major difference: The hair is braided underhanded. So if we go back to our jump rope analogy, imagine turning that double-dutch rope in circles moving away from each other...

...the Dutch braid... does not include the hair in the middle of the braid in the braid, itself. The Dutch braid is a more defined braid, but it also only sits on top of the middle part of the hair."
Cornrow Tutorial (Dutch Braid): Braiding Technique #5

GirlsLoveYourCurls Uploaded on Sep 25, 2010

Cornrow Tutorial (Dutch Braid): A how-to, step by step tutorial on how to do cornrow, also known as a Dutch Braid, or Canerow, on natural hair.

"Dutch Braids" probably got that name because of the similarity of the movement of that technique of braiding and the way that the two "Double Dutch" jumping ropes are usually turned.

To help illustrate this way of turning two ropes, here's a Double Dutch jump rope video:

Double Dutch Basics

parents, Published on Jun 25, 2010

...First up is the French braid. As you can see from above, a French braid is braided overhand. If you don't know what that means, just imagine yourself turning two double-dutch jump ropes with each hand turning in circles towards each other. The sections of hair are laid on top of one another as more hair is added down the braid.

A benefit of doing the French braid is that it keeps the hair nicely detangled, out of the face, and helps distribute the weight of the hair along the path of the braid, rather than having all of the hair pull in one area, as it would in a ponytail...
French Braid Tutorial (Inverted Cornrow): Braiding Technique #4

GirlsLoveYourCurls,Uploaded on Sep 25, 2010

French Braid Tutorial: A step by step tutorial on how to do french braid, also known as an inverted cornrow, on natural hair.

Hair "extensions" are sometimes temporarily added by one means or another to the hair of a person of any race or ethnicity in order to extend the length of that individual's hair. People may wear extensions if they wear their hair "out" in straight styles or in curly styles or if they wear their hair in the braided styles mentioned in this post or in other braided styles.

Here's some more information about extensions from
"Hair extensions are specific hair pieces developed to provide length to an individual’s hair style. They are available in lots of different colors and textures in order that they may possibly be equated to any person’s hair...Extensions could be produced of all-natural hair or synthetic fibers."

Please be careful what terms you use to refer to “Black” hair textures. Because of possible (or probable) adverse reactions from Black people, my advice is that no one (including other
Black people) use "kinky", "nappy", or "wooly".

I prefer the term “tightly curled” in refering to this wide range of textures of unprocessed (unstraightened) "Black" hair.

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