Home » Hairstyles » Dreadlocks vs. Cornrows: Differences and Similarities

Dreadlocks vs. Cornrows: Differences and Similarities

Dreadlocks and cornrows are two popular hairstyles. However, have you ever wondered how they are different or similar?

There are many similarities and differences between dreadlocks and cornrows, and the differences depend on various factors, including history, appearance, maintenance, and age.

We need to delve into the differences and similarities between the two styles. However, before doing that, a word on dreadlocks and cornrows.

What are Dreadlocks?

What are Dreadlocks?

Depending on the cultural context, you may call dreadlocks by different names, including dreads and locks.

Imagine sections of your hair all knotted up and tied together with a matte finish or look when you think of dreadlocks as a hairstyle. You can achieve this using various methods, including backcombing, interlocking, and even naturally.

The hairstyle is primarily popular amongst celebrities since it improves beauty and social perception. People also believed that such hairstyles prevented energy from leaking out of the body in the olden days. So, many cultures across the world respect dreadlocks.

The hairstyle has several benefits to offer. For instance, those who put on dreadlocks can style their hair differently. Plus, it is well-suited across genders, ethnicities, and age groups.

Dreadlocks are easy to maintain, are trendy, and last long. So, there is no doubting that dreadlocks are one of the best hairstyles.

Also read: Best Shampoos for Dreadlocks

What are Cornrows?

About Cornrow Hair

Cornrows or cane rows are one of the most popular hairstyles. You create rows on your hair by continuous underhand and upward motions.

You can make a cornrow hairstyle by simply straightening out long hair or making it more intricate, in which case, it would be of various geometric shapes. With a rich history dating back to 3000 BC, the cornrow hairstyle works like a charm across genders, ages, statuses, and religious beliefs.

Moreover, they also vouch for more self-expression. Cornrows also have many advantages to boast of similar to their dreadlock counterparts.

There are several benefits of putting this hairstyle, including protecting your hair and allowing it to grow as naturally as possible. Cornrows are suitable for all ages and genders, and however, more importantly, they can last for eight weeks once set.

See also: How long should your hair be for cornrows?

What is the difference between Cornrows and Dreadlocks?

So, now that you know more about the two hairstyles, namely, dreadlocks and cornrows, it’s time to move to learn about their differences.

The two hairstyles are different but interchangeable, meaning that you can convert a cornrow to a dreadlock and a dreadlock to a cornrow. Both the cornrow and dreadlock hairstyles are different in many ways. Here, you will know four significant differences between the two styles.

How long does it take to braid cornrows vs. dreadlocks?

How long does it take to braid dreadlocks and cornrows hairstyle?

You can create the cornrow hairstyle in two to four hours or one session. You also don’t need to bother changing them frequently as they last for weeks together.

Another advantage here is that you can prolong having it on, provided you wear a sleep cap at night when you go to bed.

These take more time to create about four to eight hours as an initial session when doing dreadlocks. The time you may take to make this hairstyle is not fixed and varies depending on how and where you start the locks.

Remember that this is only the initial session and not the entire do-over. So, depending on this initial session and the length and thickness of your hair, making dreadlocks can take lots of time.

Additionally, you may also need to redo the styling every four to six weeks, which means that the dreads last only as long.

How long does each style last?

Cornrows are a temporary hairstyle. So, you can do and undo them at any time. Dreadlocks, however, are semi-permanent hairstyles.

You can make them permanent if you want to, but they are semi-permanent for a reason. They are semi-permanent as you can do away with the locks or dreads if you want to, although it is not an easy process and also causes damage to your hair.

How hard is it to maintain a style?

While dreadlocks and cornrows differ in many aspects, you still need to wash and clean them regularly. Whether you have dreadlocks or cornrows, washing and cleaning your hair can give it a fresh look.

Washing or cleaning cornrows can be a bit of a challenge as they tend to become loose and curly. Likewise, when it comes to dreadlocks, you may need to take extra care of them, especially in the initial stages, when the locks are forming.

However, experts recommend that you refrain from using certain shampoos and conditioners as they tend to unravel the dreads. Once the locks form altogether, cleaning or washing them becomes easy and hassle-free.

The locks don’t unravel. So, you can clean or cleanse and nourish them frequently.

How does it affect your hair?

Cornrows are a protective hairstyle meaning that they prevent your hair from damage caused due to manipulation from styling every day, combing, detangling, stretching, and updos. They also protect your hair from damage done by excessive use of chemicals, colors, and heat.

Likewise, the cornrow hairstyle can protect your hair from the harm caused due to environmental pollutants, excessive sweat or moisture, and other such factors, including dry and cold air, frost, snow, and wind.

These factors can be detrimental to the growth of your hair, and you can protect it from them by using the cornrow hairstyle as opposed to chemicals or products. Like cornrows, dreadlocks also protect your hair in many ways.

For instance, twisting your hair into dreads prevents it from breaking due to everyday styling and manipulation. Moreover, it also prevents damage caused to the scalp due to daily styling or manipulation.

Which is better: Dreadlocks or Cornrows?

Which is better: Dreadlocks or Cornrows?

There is no doubt that both dreadlocks and cornrows are great hairstyles. So, there is no saying which one is better, and it is a matter of individual preference.

However, both hairstyles pull on the roots of your hair, and they may cause hair loss, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The reason for this is that both these styles are not permanent and need frequent redoing, and this can cause hair loss.

For this, the AAD recommends several remedies, including loosening the braids around the hairline and going for thicker braids or dreadlocks. Furthermore, the academy also suggests not having the same styling for more than three months.

So, you can try any of these techniques to prevent hair loss caused by the dreadlock or cornrow styles. You can opt for a protective hairstyle depending on your preference.

However, know that it only prevents hair loss and other damage caused to your hair and doesn’t make your hair grow any faster.

Do dreads last longer than cornrows?

Dreads are easy to create and maintain, lasting longer than cornrows. While cornrows last for about four to six weeks before you need to redo them, dreadlocks can last for weeks together.

However, do note that dreadlocks are not easy to create, and you may need to spend lots of time on them. Comparing this with cornrows, you will notice that they are much easier to make than dreadlocks, and you can do them in a couple of hours.

So, while dreadlocks are hard to do and can take much of your valuable time, you can keep them on for weeks together. However, this isn’t the case with cornrows, as you can only keep them on until your hair starts getting dirty or the style begins to look bad.

Dreadlocks and culture

Cultural aspect of dreadlocks

Hairstyling is a fashion statement and an individual preference. So, whether you need to put on dreadlocks or a cornrow style depends on several factors like your lifestyle and outlook.

However, it depends on how you want to depict yourself to others, on which most styles are based. There is also a cultural aspect involved in both these hairstyles. For instance, almost everyone in Africa has been wearing the dreadlock hairstyle for years now.

You also get to see this hairstyle across cultures where kings, queens, Gods, and Goddesses from ancient texts such as the Bible have worn it. Be it King Solomon, Queen of Sheba, the Pharaohs, and the Queens of Egypt, everyone has worn the dreadlock hairstyle.

However, hair styling, even protective hairstyling, can slow down hair growth. So, you may need to be wary of the kinds of products you use to style your hair.

Also, it is recommended that you keep protective hairstyles for no more than two to four weeks, although doing dreadlocks tends to take lots of your precious time.


When you observe the growth of your hair, you will notice that it doesn’t grow any longer or thicker by the day.

However, if you hide it for about a month or so, you will see that it has grown almost half an inch more. So, hair growth depends on several factors, including your genes. However, styling your hair is in your hands.


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I’m Aida and this is my blog where I write mostly about beauty & make up related stuff, but I like to spice it up a bit with lifestyle and photography posts. Or with whatever that comes to my mind. Hope you will enjoy the reading enough that we will ‘see’ each other more often!

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