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What Is A Durag & Why Should You Wear One? (Revealed)

Man wearing purple durag

A durag is a headwrap that works magic on 360 waves, afros, braids… 

For real?

Yes, that’s for real! 

You can wear a durag over any hairstyle; even bald men look stylish in one. It’s a non-gender-specific thing. 

Why does it attract so much attention?

Read on to know when this trend began, plus how you too can wear a durag. 😉

Some History About This Iconic Wave Cap

Though its origin is unclear, there are claims that the name comes from African Americans calling it the hairdo rag (doo-rag) 

It goes along with suggestions that African American women wore it as far back as the slave era.

Stories aside, we know many African Americans wore do-rags since the 30s, and it became a popular style in the 60s during the Black Power Movement.

There's still so much debate about this fashion item that even the NFL banned durags. In its defense, the NFL alleged that the intention was to save the sport from the negative views surrounding the doo rag.

Indeed, there have been varying views about who should or shouldn’t wear it, not to mention thoughts about how wearing it as a non-black person borders cultural appropriation. 

For instance, when Kylie Jenner showed up in a durag at the New York Fashion Week in 2016, there was an uproar online. 

Some felt that an African American would have been called rebellious or uncultured for wearing a durag to the event, yet Kylie would not receive criticism but praise for wearing it.

In short, to some people, a wave cap or durag is a fashion accessory that compresses textured hair to keep it neat. To others, it's a gang symbol that no one should wear in public, ever.

So, what is a durag to you?

If you consider it a fashion accessory, read on to know how to put on a durag.

Which Material Makes The Best Durags?

Silk scarf placed near flowers on table

Durags come in many fabrics, such as silk, polyester, and velvet. Silk is a good material because it compresses the hair tightly, prevents loss of moisture, besides having a shiny finish that makes it appealing. 

Another popular fabric is velvet, a versatile material that never goes out of fashion. Durags made of this material are comfortable and unique. Nonetheless, velvet does not press your hair tightly the way silk durags do; consequently, your waves may not be firm in the morning. 

The third most common material is polyester, a fabric that is lightweight, stylish, and affordable. For most mesh durags, you'll get them in polyester. 

These mesh do-rags compress your hair better than velvet durags, but not as good as the silk ones since the mesh fabric is mainly for aesthetic appeal than functionality.

You'll also come across satin doo rags. The smooth finish of satin makes it almost as appealing as silk but cheaper.

However, satin durags will not compress your hair the way the silk ones do, so these do-rags are more for making a fashion statement like the mesh ones. So, we have a winner; yes, silk durags are the best.

Whichever material you go for, the most desirable durags are elastic. When the material stretches, your hair breathes. It's also easier to wrap a stretchable material around the head than a tight fabric that feels like it's soaked in starch.

How To Tie A Durag Step By Step

Now you know the materials to choose when you go shopping; let's look at how to put on a durag.

How To Tie A Traditional Wave Cap In 5 Easy Steps

A durag has two parts. There’s a scarf with a flap and two straps.

Step 1

Complete your usual hair care routine where you wash, dry, and moisturize your hair. Place the doo rag on your head with its center flat seam symmetrical to the middle of your head. 

Its front binding edge should cut across your forehead between your hairline and brows. Make sure you cover your hair but leave the sideburns out.

Step 2

Hold each end of the strap (tie) in each hand. Pull the two straps to the back of your head without applying too much pressure, or the durag will come off. 

Leave your ears out, and cross the straps above the flap at the back. The two straps should form an X at the center behind your ears.

Step 3

Pull the two ties to the front of your head and cross them at the forehead the way you did at the back. Each tie end is now at its initial left or right side. 

Wrap your head again by pulling the straps to the back of your head a second time. Ensure the straps are firm but don’t tie them too tight, or you'll get a headache. Moreover, the durag may leave unsightly marks across your forehead when you tighten it.

Step 4

Straighten the straps, and make a knot at the back to secure the doo rag over the flap. Run your hand over the straps around your head to feel for any bumps to straighten up.

Step 5

Pull the flap of the durag towards your back to compress the hair and straighten it. You can style the flap the way you want by folding it, or you can leave it hanging.

A more stylish way to hide the flap is to hold the two corners, twist them, and tuck them into the knot you made earlier such that the durag looks like a skullcap.

How To Tie A Durag At Night

For your night routine, you'll use the same method explained above. Nonetheless, there are a few points to remember.

  • To wake up with fresh waves, tie your do-rag inside out to ensure the flat seam does not cut across your waves and ruin the look.
  • Instead of tying the tails of your durag at the back of your head, twist them to avoid creating lines, then slip a headband over them. The headband secures the durag to prevent it from slipping off at night. 

With the headband flat along the edge of the durag, untwist the tails to straighten them. Pull the flap to straighten the durag, and then fold the flap over the headband and tuck it in if you want to have it off your back.

How To Tie Durag Tails Together

It might feel like the process of wrapping the durag around your head several times is long, but it takes a short while when you get used to the process. 

Nevertheless, if you want to make the process even faster, you can tie the ends of the strap together so that it's easier to slip it over your head. 

To do that, hold the edges of the two straps, and tie a tight double knot to form a loop. If you like, cut the hanging edges after the knot, a few inches away from the knot. 

To wear the durag at night, you can place it on your head with the seam facing up. But, if it's a fashion accessory to wear to the gym or work, the seam side goes inside.

Wrap the doo rag around your head and bring the loop back to your forehead, and the process is over. Smooth out the edges and pull the flap towards your back.

Benefits Of Wearing A Durag

Textured hair can ruin your morning routine when the curls and coils refuse to cooperate. On some occasions, you wake up with tresses looking like electrically charged cat fur or a tangled, painful mess. 

Here's how the best durag rescues you from such drama.

Preserves The Natural Moisture Of Hair

Brittle, damaged hair is difficult to style. You have to treat it often to regain moisture because African hair loses hair moisture faster than Caucasian hair and Asian with waves. Therefore, you can't afford to forego the moisturizing step of your hair care routine. 

After moisturizing, tie a do-rag to trap the moisture content. You'll have strong, shiny hair. Furthermore, your hair becomes manageable in the morning without hair breakage because sleeping in a durag prevents tangles.

Prevents Breakouts

A durag also prevents hair oils and moisturizers from causing pimples on your face by creating a barrier between your hairline and the forehead. More so, these hair oils stick on the durag instead of reaching your pillowcase at night.

Holds Braids In Place

I know we've been talking about durags and waves, so what does a durag do on braids? 

It keeps box braids off your face, pulls stray braids together to style twist braids, and hides new growth when you've had braids on for months. 

Wearing a durag over braids can also be a hairstyle on its own. How you style the straps of the durag gives you a unique hairstyle whether you have braids or not.

For instance, Rihanna tied hers to the side on the cover of Vogue. Her other durag with crystal embellishments made fashion headlines for quite a while because it was bold.

Woman wearing black top beside a tree

To Lay Edges

For African hair, the hairstyle is not complete until you lay the edges. After applying an edge control product on the soft baby hairs, you can tie a du-rag overnight and wake up with laid edges to last throughout the day.

To Keep Strands Off Your Face

Long hair can be a bother at the gym. Sweat is also a nuisance, more so for people with acne-prone skin. For these reasons, a do-rag is almost a necessity. It also comes in handy for bikers to wear under a helmet.

Develop 360 Waves

The 360s need compression to form naturally, and they look good on all types of hair. Nelly made everyone know about the 360s, and Drake is continuing this trend. If you're wondering how durags make waves, you compress your hair for at least half an hour after brushing it.

The stretchable fabric presses the brushed hair from the crown towards the nape, ears, and forehead. When you wear a durag overnight, it forms tight waves that resemble waves in the ocean.
Dapper Point: You might want to use a bandana, instead, if you're not comfortable with a durag. Read our comparative article about these two head gears and give us your thoughts -- Durag Vs Bandana.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Do I Tie My Durag Tight And Neat?

First and foremost, get the best material for the job. I mentioned some of the most efficient fabrics above. While tying your durag, when you pull the two ties to the back of your head, smooth out the edges for it to lie flat.

Plus, tighten the durag by pulling the flap toward your back and pressing the hair on the scalp. Don't pull too hard, or the do-rag will pull away from the hairline.

For an afro, comb it to remove tangles, or it won't lie flat when you tie a durag. Tie the doo rag firm but not tight to avoid discomfort, along with the tiresome process of loosening it in the evening.

To look neat, since the doo rag will absorb oils from your hair, wear it for one day or night only because the oils mix with sweat and form dark lines on the cloth.

When Should I Wear A Durag?

There are many instances when you can wear it, and they include using this headwrap to keep your afro moisturized and neat, create waves in your hair, and as a fashion accessory. You can wear a doo rag during the day or at night.

Is It Okay To Wear A Durag All Day?

Yes, you can wear it all day like a headscarf. Moisturize your hair before you tie it. Your hair should be dry if you just washed it. Though the fabric is breathable, the moist conditions under it may leave wet hair with a foul smell when you sweat.

When you wear it to the gym, it wouldn’t be advisable to keep it on the whole day because it’ll be sweaty after your workout.

What Else Can I Use Instead of a Durag?

You can tie a bandana as a fashion accessory to press your hair down or prevent tangles. Fold one corner of the bandana inward to point at an opposite corner. Place it on your head with the folded corner inside, and hold two opposite corners each in one hand.

Tie the two corners together at the back of your head. Pull the loose corner under the knot towards your neck to form a flap. Note that, unless you have a large bandana, this process is laborious. The outcome may be a headscarf, not a durag.



An accessory that you'd wear when going to bed is now on catwalks, the streets, and recording studios, thanks to celebrities like Jay Z, Nelly, 50 Cent, Terrence Howard, Beyonce, and Solange Knowles. 

Surprisingly, Steven Seagal, John Travolta, Hulk Hogan the wrestler, and Sacha Baron Kohen have also won a do-rag, so it’s not only popular with African Americans.

For men with 360 waves, a durag is a must-have! That’s for me. What are your thoughts? 

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