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Dreads vs Braids vs Cornrows - What's The Difference?

When it comes to hairstyling, there are numerous options to choose from. Three popular styles that are often compared are dreads, braids, and cornrows. Each of these hairstyles has its own unique characteristics and cultural significance. In this article, we will explore the key differences between dreads, braids, and cornrows, and discuss their individual features, maintenance requirements, and styling possibilities.


What are Dreads?

Dreads, also known as dreadlocks, are a hairstyle characterized by matted or coiled strands of hair. This style has a rich cultural history and has been worn by various communities throughout the world. Dreads are created by allowing the hair to naturally mat and lock together over time.

How are Dreads Different from Braids and Cornrows?

Dreads differ from braids and cornrows in terms of their formation and appearance. While braids and cornrows involve weaving strands of hair together, dreads are formed by allowing the hair to naturally clump and lock together. Dreads have a more textured and voluminous appearance compared to braids and cornrows.

Maintenance and Styling of Dreads

Maintaining dreads requires special care to prevent tangling and promote healthy hair growth. Regular washing and conditioning are essential to keep dreads clean and prevent the accumulation of dirt or product buildup. Styling options for dreads are versatile and can include updos, buns, or simply letting the dreads hang freely.


What are Braids?

Braids are a hairstyle created by weaving three or more strands of hair together. This style is popular among individuals of all ages and can be adorned with beads, ribbons, or other decorative accessories. Braids are known for their versatility and can be styled in various ways.

How are Braids Different from Dreads and Cornrows?

Braids differ from dreads and cornrows in terms of their formation and appearance. While dreads involve the natural matting of hair and cornrows require close braiding to the scalp, braids are created by weaving multiple strands of hair together. Braids have a neater and more uniform look compared to dreads and cornrows.

Maintenance and Styling of Braids

Maintaining braids involves regular washing and moisturizing to keep the scalp clean and hydrated. It is important to avoid excessive tension or pulling on the braids to prevent damage to the hair and scalp. Braids can be styled in various ways, including ponytails, buns, or even intricate updos.


What are Cornrows?

Cornrows are a traditional African hairstyle characterized by tightly braided rows of hair close to the scalp. This style has a long history and cultural significance within African communities. Cornrows can be simple and straight or intricate and patterned, depending on personal preference.

How are Cornrows Different from Dreads and Braids?

Cornrows differ from dreads and braids in terms of their formation and placement. Cornrows involve braiding the hair close to the scalp in straight or curved rows, creating a distinctive pattern. Unlike dreads and braids, cornrows do not involve weaving or matting the hair.

Maintenance and Styling of Cornrows

Maintaining cornrows requires regular washing and conditioning to keep the scalp clean and healthy. It is important to moisturize the scalp and edges to prevent dryness and breakage. Styling options for cornrows are vast, with possibilities ranging from simple straight rows to complex geometric patterns.


Can you undo dreads and turn them into braids?

Yes, it is possible to undo dreads and transform them into braids. This process, known as "dreadlock removal," involves carefully unraveling the matted hair and then braiding it into individual sections. It is a time-consuming process that requires patience and expertise.

Are braids or cornrows better for hair growth?

Both braids and cornrows can be beneficial for hair growth. These hairstyles can help protect the hair from external damage and manipulation, allowing it to grow longer and healthier. However, it is essential to maintain proper hair care practices and avoid excessive tension or pulling on the braids or cornrows.

Can you have dreads with short hair?

Yes, it is possible to have dreads with short hair. While longer hair can result in thicker and longer dreads, individuals with shorter hair can still achieve dreads with a more compact and textured appearance. The length of the hair will determine the size and overall look of the dreads.

How long do braids usually last?

The duration of braids depends on various factors, such as the type of hair, the size of the braids, and the individual's hair care routine. On average, braids can last anywhere from two to eight weeks. Proper maintenance, including regular washing and moisturizing, can help prolong the lifespan of braided hairstyles.

Can anyone get cornrows?

Yes, anyone can get cornrows regardless of their hair type or ethnicity. Cornrows are a versatile hairstyle that can be adapted to suit different hair textures and lengths. However, it is important to consult with a hairstylist experienced in cornrow styling to ensure the best results.

Do dreads, braids, or cornrows damage the hair?

When done correctly and maintained properly, dreads, braids, and cornrows should not cause significant damage to the hair. However, improper installation or neglecting proper hair care practices can lead to issues such as breakage, thinning, or traction alopecia. It is important to seek professional assistance and follow recommended maintenance routines.