Wrapping hair in cloth is a centuries-old tradition commonly seen in Sub-Saharan African cultures and in Black communities in the Americas. While these headscarves served a practical purpose, in the case of enslaved people, their wear was also sometimes mandated to reinforce hierarchy. For a long time, they had a negative connotation in the US because of this association with servitude.
By the 1970s, though, hair wraps saw a revival, and wraps were worn in creative ways as a fashion statement and to celebrate Black culture. Today, hair wraps are growing in popularity again. While hair wraps are still mainly popular among women with textured hair, women of all hair types have started exploring their benefits, especially for overnight use.
In this guide, we’ll share some of the best tutorials on the internet to help you find a wrapping technique that works for you. Whether you want to use wraps in day-to-day styling or to help preserve hairstyles while you sleep, there are plenty of easy techniques to help you have the best hair day ever.
Benefits of Hair Wrapping
Many hairstylists recommend wrapping your hair if you struggle with dryness, split ends, or have trouble growing your hair out. While women from many different cultures will sometimes use hair wraps to protect styles overnight, it’s more than just saving on next-day styling.
Evidence has shown that silk can help trap in necessary moisture to keep your hair from drying out, but it won’t leave your hair looking greasy. Wrapping can also tame frizzies and prevent tangles. This allows you to wash your hair less often, saving water and product, and you can spend less time styling your hair the next day.
Even satin scarves, which tend to be less expensive than silk, can be beneficial because they have a smoother texture that helps prevent breakages you can experience while sleeping on a cotton pillowcase. Satin can similarly help prevent dryness as well. Some women will even switch to silk or satin pillowcases to protect their hair even on nights when they don’t wrap it.
Some people will apply products like shine spray or leave-in conditioner before wrapping as well. By wrapping after application, you can make sure that your hair has the best chance to absorb and fully benefit from these products.
No matter your hair texture, it’s worth giving wrapping a shot, especially if you feel like your hair needs a boost. Many people enjoy the ritual of wrapping up their hair at night and appreciate the benefits of having more manageable hair the next morning.
Wrapping Your Hair Overnight
Wrapping up your tresses before bed obviously has plenty of benefits, but there are quite a few ways to do it, depending on your hair texture and style.
For Straightened Hair
In this video, RuthAnn B shares her simple method for wrapping her short, straightened hair to keep it smooth and silky overnight so she can straighten it less frequently.
Longer hair can be more challenging to wrap, so in this tutorial, Ksb Bombshell demonstrates a similar wrapping method, but with her long, silk press straightened hair. This is a damage-free method of keeping her hair extra sleek for longer.
While bonnets and caps are popular for curls, NinyaBella shows two methods for wrapping her bouncy curls in a scarf to preserve them for the next day and keep them from tangling.
For Vintage Styling
In the early to mid-20th century, shorter hairstyles with curls came into fashion. Before electric curling irons and steam curlers were widely available, women often relied on pinning their hair in the evening and wrapping it so that the curls would set overnight. This method is much less damaging to hair than heated methods, so many people have been returning to overnight curl sets in recent years.
Here, The Closet Historian demonstrates a method of pinning and wrapping her hair, finishing it off with a bonnet.
Scarves vs Bonnets
When it comes to wrapping your hair before sleeping, some people prefer to cover their hair with a bonnet, rather than a scarf and there are benefits to both. Some people will also use both for extra protection.
When deciding what’s right for your hair, most experts seem to agree that scarves tend to be better for flat styles, like straight or braided hair, while bonnets give extra space for curls and volume. In most cases, though, it will come down to your personal comfort.
Either way, you don’t want the scarf or bonnet to fit too tightly. In some cases, you may find that a bonnet is too loose to stay on and give you adequate protection overnight, in which case you may want to wear a scarf underneath.
While bonnets have been used almost exclusively for sleep, some companies are challenging that idea by releasing some cute and stylish options that could be styled as part of your daywear.
Wet Wrapping vs Dry Wrapping
You may wonder whether it’s better to wrap your hair while it’s wet, especially if you prefer to shower at night. While all of the previous tutorials have been for dry wrapping hair, there are wet wrapping methods to consider as well.
By wrapping your hair while it’s still wet, you can style your hair heatlessly. In this video, Viv HairTherapy uses a specialized shower brush to brush her hair into a wrap while washing her hair to have it naturally straighten while drying.
For curling your hair, there is also a method called “wet plopping” that allows you to develop the curl in your damp hair and wrap it overnight to set it. The style can be maintained over the course of several days and there’s no need for damaging heat or perms. The method is demonstrated here by Yaliana Enid.
Hair Wrapping for Style
Many women with curly and coily hair enjoy using hair wraps to give a stylish look in the daytime too. This easy styling option can help you get through your day with less hassle and can protect hair that’s still drying or undergoing a deep conditioning treatment.
It’s also a great option if you’re trying to stretch the time between wash and styling days. Don’t just throw on a hat for low-maintenance days, instead, try an effortlessly chic wrap that’s perfect for summer.
Of course, if you’re wearing a hair wrap out, you might want to explore some different methods of wrapping so you can change up your look.
In this video, vlogger Luhhsetty walks you through 4 different wrap styles
Fortunately, there are not only plenty of fun wrap methods to experiment with but there are also plenty of options for scarves. Inexpensive satin scarves are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, so you can keep a few around to mix and match with your outfit for the day. And if your hair doesn’t want to stay put, you can always keep a few bobby pins on hand to keep everything under control.
Wrap and Your Hair Will Thank You for It
With busy lives, it can be hard to make time to take care of yourself, but hair wrapping is a simple addition to your routine that can really pamper your hair. Not only that, it can allow you to wash and style your hair less often, saving time, money, and resources. Sometimes less is more, and when it comes to washing and heat-treating your hair, that’s definitely the case. If your hair is dry or prone to breakage, you absolutely should give wrapping a try.
We hope this guide has shared some tutorials that will help you find the best method for wrapping your hair, whether to style it, preserve your style, or for a low-maintenance chic look to wear out. Whatever method you choose, we hope it helps you achieve the best hair day of your life.