Cornrow Heart Braids Are the Cutest Way to Accent the Protective Style

Cornrow Heart Braids Are the Cutest Way to Accent the Protective Style

Close up of a heart braided into the side of a woman's cornrowed hair

@therealbraidvixen / Instagram

In This Article

What They Are How to Care for Them The Final Takeaway

Cornrows are among the most popular protective styles, and rightfully so. They require relatively little time in your braider’s chair, last up to three weeks, and offer an opportunity to give your hair a break from manipulation. What’s not to love?

Straight-backs are always in style, but people are getting extra creative these days. The latest trending style on social media is heart cornrows, perhaps the cutest update to the look. Ahead, pro hairstylists Ursula Stephen and LaRae Burress explain everything you need to know about heart cornrow braids (including how to keep your edges intact).

Meet the Expert

  • Ursula Stephen is a celebrity hairstylist, owner of Ursula Stephen The Salon, and Eco Style brand ambassador.
  • LaRae Burress is a hair artist and owner of salon Crown Confidence.

The back of a woman's head, a braided heart visible, the bottom of her hair loose and curly

@therealbraidvixen / Instagram

What Are Heart Cornrows Braids?

Cornrow “heart braids are a type of braid design where a heart is braided into the hair,” Stephen tells us. Cornrow heart braids are making waves across social media platforms like Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram, with the different variations unlocking the creativity of clients and stylists alike. Plus, installing them is very simple. Here’s Stephen’s step-by-step guide:

  1. Section and part the hair where you want to create the heart
  2. Split the section from top to bottom
  3. Braid one of those sections into half a heart
  4. Do the same to the other section

That was a breeze, right? However, there are some things to remember before, during, and post-installation. The hearts are often placed along the sides of the head or even at the nape of the neck. While this is very cute, tension from braids can be problematic for the scalp. So, how you prepare, care for, and hydrate your hair is crucial for your hair health.

How to Care for Heart Cornrow Braids

Properly Moisturize Hair Before Braiding

“Any kind of braid can cause breakage if the hair is not properly moisturized first,” says Burress. “To avoid breakage, be sure to properly shampoo, condition, and moisturize hair [before] any braiding.” She also says to make sure your hairstylist isn’t gripping your hair too tight in any areas while braiding.

Rinse Your Braiding Hair (or Use an Alternative If You Have a Sensitive Scalp)

The first time I got box braids installed, my scalp was inflamed. Not because my hair was braided too tightly but because the coating on the braiding hair had irritated my scalp. Since cornrows lay directly on the scalp, Burress advises those with sensitive scalps to soak braiding hair in an apple cider vinegar bath before installation. Alternatively, she says you can also opt for natural braiding hair like Rebundle, which is made from naturally extracted banana fiber. You can use this hair right out of the box without fear of irritation, no pre-install rinse necessary.

Close up of cornrowed hair, a braid designed on the side

@therealbraidvixen / Instagram

Don't Braid in Baby Hairs

My braider always asks me: “Do you want me to braid in your baby hairs?” Instinctively, I always answer “no”—and according to Stephen, I’ve been making the right call. “Whether it’s heart braids, box braids, or cornrows, there is always a chance of breakage when it comes to the hairline,” she shares. The best way to avoid hairline breakage, she says, is to leave those baby hairs out.

Don't Leave Them in Too Long

Both stylists agree: Three weeks is the longest you can keep this style in. The longer you wear a protective style, the more moisture your hair can lose, leading to breakage. That said, Stephen notes that the longevity will ultimately come down to maintenance. "The better you [care for] them, the longer they will last," she says. (More on that below.)

Care for Your Hair While It's Braided

  • Curbing itchiness: Though most of us grew up greasing our scalps when they started to itch, it’s better to opt for products with hydrating and soothing ingredients—such as aloe vera, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid—over heavy oils or greases. I recommend Briogeo’s Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment Serum and Act + Acre’s Cold Processed Stem Cell Serum ($86).
  • Keeping clean: If you can’t wait until wash day, TPH By Taraji’s Master Cleanse Scalp Shampoo and Hydrating Hair Rinse with Tea Tree ($15) is designed with a tri-touch applicator for direct-to-scalp cleansing. The design prevents disrupting the hair, while the ingredients, including tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and witch hazel water, help rinse away build-up. African Pride’s Black Castor Miracle Braid & Scalp Cleansing Rinse ($10) is also beloved by the braided. 
  • Preventing frizz: Cleaning the scalp and hair is the best way to keep hair healthy and moisturized, but we understand the desire to combat frizz, too. Though your hair won’t look the way it did on the day when you left the salon, resetting your heart cornrows is easy and yields great results. To reset and hydrate braids after washing, I apply Mizani’s 25 Miracle Milk Heat Protectant Leave-In Conditioner ($26) (I prefer a spray leave-in with braids), The Doux’s Mousse Def Texture Foam ($15) on the braids, and a gel, like Eco Style’s Olive Oil Gel, or an edge control, like Pattern’s Edge Control ($14), to lay down my edges. Lastly, I tie my hair down with a satin or silk scarf. If I’m home and not traveling, I’ll sit under a hooded dryer.

The Final Takeaway

Heart cornrow braids are a fun way to add oomph to a traditional protective style staple. The key with this style is to let your baby hairs hang out to prevent breakage and ensure you're keeping your hair well-moisturized pre-installation, and during the weeks (no more than three!) you'll be rocking the style.

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