Q: My husband and I were vacationing in the Dominican Republic recently and someone on the beach offered to braid my hair in
the small braid style that is typical for the area. I declined because I have been told that this type of braiding would be damaging to
the hair. Yet, I wonder if that is true. And what is that small-braid style called?
A: Well, the names can often vary from region to region, but generally resemble the “cornrow” style sported by Bo Derek in the movie
“10”. However, the actual execution typically depends on the stylist’s esthetic sense and the size and shape of the wearer’s head.
Given that the individual planned to use your own hair (I presume she wasn’t planning to add any artificial or natural extensions to
the hair) she was likely going to simply braid your hair in cornrows.
Cornrows can vary in size depending on the look you desire. The common trait of cornrow styles is
that the hair is divided into tracts along the scalp. Usually these tracts (or rows) are straight, but can be worked into patterns
along the head if desired and the performer is skilled sufficiently. It is called “cornrows” because of the resemblance to the defined
stripe pattern of rows of corn growing in a farm field.
Sometimes you will hear the term “micro-braids” used. This generally means only that the
individual’s hair is braided into tracts - or even stand-out braids - that are much smaller than the usual style. Some women like this
look because of the fact that it creates much finer definition in the hairstyle and can create the appearance of thicker hair if
extension fibers are added in the braiding process.