Hair wrapping is a popular styling technique for black women that can be done to any type or length of hair. Wraps are typically done either to protect hair while sleeping or as an alternative to blow drying. Wrapping is done by smoothing hair against the scalp and wrapping it in a circular motion around the head to create a beehive style. The wrap is secured into place and covered with a scarf. Hair wrapping is designed to protect African American hair from damage and is most effective when applied to straight black, relaxed hair.
Basic Steps for Wrapping Black Hair
Although there are various renditions of the hair wrap, there are two main types of hair wrapping: dry hair wraps and wet hair wraps.
Dry Hair Wraps
Dry hair wraps are the most common types of wraps and are done to dry, styled hair at night to protect hair while sleeping. This wrapping method prevents naturally coarse, dry and brittle African American hair from pulling, snagging or falling out while sleeping. Hair wraps allow hair to stay fresh for the next day so you can comb your hair and go, without having to use harsh heat styling to fix messy morning hair. The basic technique for dry wrapping hair is simple:
- Divide straight, dry hair down the middle of the scalp, into two sections and comb completely to remove any knots.
- Take one section of hair, beginning in the back, and comb it around the front of your forehead. Pull hair in a circular motion so it wraps around the head and secure down with a hair clip.
- Repeat the process on the remaining section of hair, combing this section of hair in the opposite direction.
- Tie a silk scarf, or a silk wrap cap, around the head so it stays in place. It's important to use silk scarves for dry wraps as this will prevent hair from pulling and snagging during sleep. An easy way to tie a scarf is to lay a square, silk scarf directly on top of the head and gently pull the corners of the scarf towards the forehead. Take all of the ends of the scarf and tie a knot in the front, and tuck under any loose ends of the scarf so they are hidden and secure.
Wet Hair Wraps
Wet hair wrapping is used in place of blow drying, which can severely damage brittle African American hair. After applying the wet wrap, it can be set under a hood dryer or left for several hours until hair is completely dry. After washing and conditioning hair, applying the wrap is fairly simple.
- Apply a leave in conditioner or wrap setting lotion to the entire head of hair.
- Part the hair across the top of the head starting from one ear to the other. Start on one side of the head and take this parted section of hair and comb it forward and towards the opposite ear. Smooth hair in this direction around the head, keeping hair off the forehead. Secure this hair with a clip.
- Comb and smooth the remaining back section of hair in the same manner, wrapping the rest of the hair around the head. Secure in place with hair clip.
- Wrap hair with a silk scarf, or hair cap. Any method can be used to tie the scarf to the head as long as all of the hair is neatly covered.
Hair Wrapping Tips
- Do use a wrap lotion, such as Motions Foaming Wrap Lotion to help smooth hair in the direction you want and hold hair together.
- If you have very short hair, or a pixie cut hairstyle, you should smooth hair straight downward instead of in a circular motion around the head.
- Use extra hair clips when wrapping short hair to ensure all of the hair gets wrapped.
- Divide hair into four sections instead of two, so there is a top and bottom section of hair on each side of the head. Wrap the top two sections around the head first, as normal, and then repeat the process with the bottom two sections.
- Secure hair with extra clips to make sure it does not fall out. This is especially important if you are wearing the wrap overnight.
Hair wrapping has been a longstanding styling method for African American women. When done correctly, hair wraps can protect hair and serve as an easy styling alternative to harsh blow dryers and straighteners, as well as a healthy way to protect brittle hair from damage and breakage.