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African Headwrap Styles for All Hair Types

Headwraps are an incredibly fashionable and versatile accessory. Used throughout the African diaspora, they’re a great way to showcase a woman’s culture, history, beauty, and strength.

Sometimes called head wraps, scarves, or head scarves, these accessories come in a variety of lengths, patterns, and materials. Many women opt for African patterns like animal prints and kente fabric.

The great thing about African headwraps is that they can be worn by every woman, no matter her age, style, job, or hair type. You can add a headwrap as a last-minute addition to cover up a bad hair day, or it can be the focal point around which you design your entire outfit. In short, they’re one of the most versatile hair accessories and can be used by everyone, no matter what. 

The key to pulling off this type of fashion is to style your hair in a way that works with the accessory. Here, we’ll show you how to style your hair for use with African headwraps.

African American woman wearing Animal Print Headwrap in Leopard, gold Temptress Choker and a black top.

What to know about styling your hair for African headwraps

You may ask yourself, “Why do I need to style my hair if the headwrap is going to cover it up?”

In this case, your hair is like the foundation, setting the stage so that your final look is flawless. Keeping your hair styled under a headwrap accomplishes a few important things:

  • Security. Protective styles like braids and twists keep your hair from interfering with the delicate styling of the wrap. The last thing you want is an unsecured coil bursting through your immaculately-crafted look.
  • Protection. One reason headwraps are so popular among African-American women is that they protect the health of the hair. Silk and satin keep the hair moisturized, preventing it from becoming dry and brittle. Putting your hair in a protective style under your headwrap keeps the strands from rubbing against the fabric. Note that if your headwrap is made of cotton, you’ll want to add a thin silk or satin layer between the wrap and your hair.

Now that we know the “why”, let’s get into the “how”!

African American woman wearing yellow, orange and green Asia Headwrap with matching Asia Denim Ankara Dress and gold hoop earrings and necklace.

Wearing a headwrap with natural hair

Your natural hair is glorious, but a headwrap can be a fun way to switch things up!

To start with, make sure your hair is moisturized. Use whatever conditioning oils, butters, or creams best suit your needs. 

If you have short natural hair, you can wear a headwrap without doing a lot. This is because the shorter strands won’t add bulk and are less likely to get tangled. 

If your natural hair is longer, put it in a protective style first. Twists, braids, and cornrows are all quick, easy options. Not only do these styles keep your hair healthy, but they also reduce the volume of your hair, making it easier to twist and secure the wrap on your head. 

African American woman wearing a white headwrap.

Wearing a headwrap with short hair

As with short natural hair, you won’t have to do a lot to your tresses if your hair is straightened since most headwrap styles for short hair cover the entire head. 

Still, you don’t have to cover the whole crown. You can also incorporate styles that leave some of your hair exposed. 

For example, put the scarf behind your head and adjust so the two long ends are on either side of your face, evenly spaced. Bring them around to your forehead, twist them around each other, then tuck or pin the ends. The end result is a turban-style headband that leaves the crown of your head exposed.

You can have a lot of fun with these looks, incorporating curling creams or spiking gels to give your hair body and definition. The best part about African headwraps is that they allow you to express your unique, creative self. Play around and see what you come up with!

African American woman wearing a green, brown, black and white print headwrap and matching dress with drop earrings and leopard print necklace.

Wearing a headwrap with long hair

Long hair gives you the option of leaving some of your strands exposed in unique, interesting ways. In fact, you can use a similar approach to the short hair example above, where the crown of your head is left uncovered by the headwrap.

Collect your hair in a loose bundle at the top of your head, then secure it with a wide clip, elastic band, or scrunchie. You don’t want this to be too tight; rather, you want it to simply shape the hair. Then, use the same turban-style headband technique described above. Your hair will spill out from the top of the wrap, and you can style it how you wish.

Alternatively, try styling your headwrap like a cap or turban and leave your locs flowing out of the bottom. This look is cute, carefree, and great for summer.

African American woman with long dark braids, yellow headrap and thick gold hoop earrings.

Wearing a headwrap with braids or locs

Combine an Afro-centric hairstyle with an Afro-centric accessory, and you’re sure to have a ton of fun and create some great looks!

Braids and locs have bulk, and you can use this to your advantage. The way you style them can add structure to the shape of the wrap. 

Try sculpting your hair into interesting updos or shapes, then wrap and secure your headwrap around it. You might, for example, try a ponytail or high bun, then style your headwrap around it to evoke the look of an Egyptian queen. You can create some beautiful, dramatic, and powerful looks with this method.

Alternatively, you can expose some of your hair as well, Braids and locs are beautiful and intricate. They cost time and care to keep them beautiful, so why hide them? By combining headwraps and African hairstyles, the end result becomes more than the sum of its parts.

African American woman with blue headwrap and multi-tone triple hoop earrings.

Wearing a headwrap with bangs

The main piece of advice with this hairstyle? Showcase your bangs! You can take any headwrap style and adjust it so that the front sits slightly higher on your forehead, leaving your bangs exposed. This creates a cute, youthful look that is perfect for fun activities. Try this style at your next church picnic or kid’s outdoor day. 

Also, try adding more accessories! Hair clips and pins that align with the colors and patterns of your headwrap can be a great way to switch things up.

Finding an African headwrap that suits your style

Headwraps are the perfect accessory to celebrate your African heritage. They’re like a crown, portraying strength and beauty. And because they’re so versatile, you can create some truly unique looks that keep you standing out from the crowd. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to patterns, colors, and styles, so you’re sure to find an African headwrap that suits your unique self.

Comments (2)

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