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What Is a Durag: Overview, History, & 8 Reasons To Wear One

Last Updated on: February 9, 2024

Swagger — this drew my attention to durags. 

However…

For a while, the false belief of my folks discouraged me from wearing them at first. 

But then I brought it up with a savvy friend and he went on about the other benefits of this stylish headgear. This pushed me to my research. 

Long story short, it’s been two years and I’m now hooked on wearing durags. And I’d be happy to let you pick my brain about the history of durags down to the various ways to tie them. 

What Is A Durag: Overview

Do you know that durags, also known as doo rags or wave caps have significantly taken over the African American community? That small piece of clothing does not only make a fashion statement but has a political significance. 

Centuries back, it was a distinguishing feature for enslaved people. Surprised, yeah? Then continue reading to discover some interesting facts and amazing benefits of durags.

History of Durags

Durags have been existing as far back as the 19th century. 

Its evolution went from a piece of clothing worn only by slaves to apparel used to preserve hairstyles, then finally as fashionable clothing. One such benefit was its ability to preserve hairstyles, especially the wave hairdo. 

In the early 19th century, African Americans wore durags not by choice but to protect their head and scalps from the scorching sun encountered from constant labor and work. Thus, anyone caught wearing a durag was regarded as poor.

This stigmatization lasted until the periods of ‘The Harlem Renaissance’ and ‘Great Depression.’ This happened in the 1930s. During this period, durags gained popularity as the benefits of wearing one became known.

This earned the piece of cloth, durag the name ‘hairdo rag’ (doo-rag) by the African Americans.

Then in the 1960s, The Black Power Movement changed the durag theme. The movement popularized the durag as a fashion statement. Soon, African Americans of different social statuses adopted began wearing durags not only for its benefits but also to look fashionable and in vogue.

However, due to the old stigmatization associated with durags, most communities did not fully accept it, especially the whites. In 2001, NFL banned its players from wearing durags and bandanas. This decision was questionable as NFL revealed the reason to be ‘improving the image of players.’

This reason only proved that the wearing of durags was linked to the stigma of slavery. Also, in 2005, NBA adopted the same policy of banning its players from wearing durags. Irrespective of these restrictions, durags remained relevant and famous in the fashion line. Celebrities and superstars of different races and cultures still rock durags to various social events.

For instance, celebrities like Rihanna, Kylie Jenner, 50 Cents, and other black superstars have once been spotted rocking a durag to an event.

This act indeed caused an uproar online. However, no one knows if this uproar results from praises or criticisms. But many believe that it is a result of the former.

Benefits of Durags – What Does a Durag Do To Help The Hair?

Durags on celebrity heads
Durags Worn By Celebrities

The question, “What is a durag?”. may bring mixed opinions from individuals. However, we can’t ignore its benefits to black people’s culture and their hair maintenance. Some benefits include:

1. Improving Hair Texture

Constantly leaving your hair open exposes it to the harsh effects of environmental pollution. Such an effect includes triggering moisture evaporation from the hair. People who spend most time outside usually complain of dry and rough-looking hair. This particular problem is attributed to the harmful effects of pollution on the atmosphere.

However, protecting your hair with a durag can significantly reduce the problem of moisture evaporation. It also helps improve the health of your hair. This is because upon applying oils, creams, or ointments on the hair, covering it with a durag will enhance the proper functioning of the hair treatment products.

2. Preserving Hairstyles

Most people encounter the issue of how quickly their recently done hair becomes undone and rough-looking. Sometimes, being outside, the wind can cause your carefully permed hair to fly around. You can avoid these problems by wearing a durag.

Durags keep the hair intact and in place according to how you want it. For people who constantly straighten their hair, using a durag can help reduce this as it allows the hair to remain straight and relaxed. This is wonderful for women looking to achieve silky-looking hair as constant heat application can damage the hair by denaturing the keratin protein.

Fun Fact: One way of preserving your hairstyle is by doing a wave check every now and then if you are interested in growing and maintaining a 360 wave hairdo.

3. Prevents Eye Irritation 

During Summer, the heat level is high, causing many people to be prone to sweating. While some sweat majorly on their body, there are people who sweat profusely on their scalps. This sweat can flow downwards, entering the eyes. You surely don’t want to experience this; the feeling is horrible.

But with a durag tied around the head, this can trap and absorb any sweat present on the scalp. This prevents the sweat from dripping into the eye to cause any irritation.

4. It Helps Maintain Braids

Braids are a common hairstyle for ladies and some men. But one common issue braids lovers face is stray hair. These braids can come undone even when doing an essential home chore. This can disrupt your normal daily activities as you have to stop frequently to keep the braids in order.

But tying a durag around the braids keeps them intact and prevents them from coming loose even in strenuous activities. This also prevents the braids from looking rough and old, thus maintaining your favorite braids.

Fun Fact: Braids or dreadlocks (aka locs) can be achieved by professional salon hairstylists if you know who to approach and determine how much do dreadlocks cost at a salon! It doesn’t come cheap but, at least, you receive proper hair treatment.

5. Prevents Discomfort During Sports Activities

Athletes who engage in sports activities, especially those involving them moving from one place to another at high speed, have complained about the stress and discomfort of making hair. 

I have an athletic friend who complained that she has to go on a low-cut as hair-making restricts her ability to practice effectively and even perform well during competitions. I am sure she isn’t the only one who encounters this. However, wearing a durag can help prevent any discomfort that hair can cause during sports activities.

Durags help keep long hair bound and firm, which prevents the hair from blowing in their faces during activities. 

6. It Helps Maintain 360 Waves

Many men prefer to spot the 360 waves hairstyle. While this is great and good-looking, the tendency for the hair to grow outward is high, and this causes the hair to lose its wave and curl pattern. 

This problem can be prevented by frequently wearing a durag (i.e., daily). This durag helps train the hair to lay flat on the head, preventing outward growth. This can help you maintain your 360 waves hairstyle.

Fun Fact: You could effectively manage your 360 waves with minimal effort by knowing how to get thick waves in your hair correctly.

7. Protection from Sunlight

You can’t avoid the sunlight, but you can surely prevent the harmful effects caused by sunlight. One major downside of being under the sun for so long is that it’s detrimental to your hair. Extreme sunlight exposure makes the hair look dull and changes the hair color.

This is commonly experienced by sunbathers, although wearing a durag during a sunbath can help prevent your hair from being exposed to the harmful effects of the sun. You can still get your body tan while protecting your hair with a durag.

8. To Improve Your Overall Outward Look

Durag is a fashion statement! Wearing a durag enhances your appearance, it is fashionable and goes with most outfits. Asides from the numerous benefits of durags, wearing one keeps you looking hot and chic. Therefore, you should choose one suitable design and color to complement that particular outfit when going out.


How to Tie a Durag

Confused and pensive expression of a black boy with many questions - cyan-colored background
“You tell me!”

I am sure you are more interested in durags now that you know the benefits of wearing one. However, getting a durag and putting it on your head doesn’t equate to wearing one. You must be able to tie it properly around your head to be fashionable. You don’t want to go around looking weird, do you?

Tying a durag or wearing a durag is very easy to accomplish, and it takes little to no skills to do. This means that you can comfortably do this at home, and you are done in a bit of time.

Depending on your preference, there are also different ways you could tie your durag. 

How to Tie a Durag For Everyday Use

A durag has two parts – a scarf with a flap and two straps.

Step 1:

After applying your hair care routine, it’s time to tie your favorite durag scarf. The first thing to do is ensure that the durag is lined up correctly on your head.

Make sure the front edges rest between your hairline and brows.

This will ensure your hair is completely covered. Although, if you have sideburns, you should leave them sticking out.

Step 2:

Hold each end of the strap and pull it backward, crossing them above the flap at the back to form an X at the center. Endeavor not to apply too much pressure as this can cause the durag to come off or cause pain. Also, make sure you leave your ears out when tying the straps.

Step 3:

Pull the two straps forward and cross them at the forehead, similar to what you did at the back. Now wrap your head again by pulling the straps to the rear a second time. Straighten the straps and make a firm knot at the back over the flap.

Do not make it too tight, or you will get a headache or marks across your forehead. Run your hands over the durag to ensure there are no lumps; if there are, straighten it out.

Step 4:

To compress and straighten your hair, pull the flap of the durag towards your back. You can decide to leave the flap hanging on your back or style it by folding it.

I suggest you twist the two corners of the flap and tuck them to form a knot. This way, you have the durag looking like a skullcap and, at the same time, more stylish than just leaving its flaps open.

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How to Put on a Durag For Night Use

Men who love to spot the 360 waves hairstyle would need a durag to maintain the effect of the curls. It is best to sleep at night with a durag around your head to prevent the hair from sticking out, ruining the style.

Tying a durag for night use will follow the same procedures mentioned above. Nevertheless, there are slight tweaks involved:

  • Tie the durag inside out to prevent the flat seam from cutting across the waves. This will prevent the durag from ruining the effect of the curls and look.
  • Do not turn the straps of the durag at the back of your head; instead, twist them to avoid creating lines that can ruin the wave look. Use a headband to secure the straps, preventing the durag from slipping off at night.
  • After securing the durag with the headband, untwist the straps to straighten them. You can straighten the durag by pulling the flap, folding it over the headband, and tucking the flap in to prevent it from hanging over your back.

This whole procedure can seem a bit difficult and stressful. However, with constant practice, it becomes really easy. 


Watch This!


The Best Type of Durags You Should Opt For

Now that you know how to tie a durag, I am sure you are bursting with the energy to try your new learned skills. However, you have to consider the type of durags to get.

When getting a durag, you must consider compression ability, comfortability, price, and style. 

For men with 360 waves hairstyles, going for a durag with high compression ability is essential. This would help maintain the curls’ effect on your hair. Durags are made with a variety of fabrics that have effects on their functions.

1. Silk Durags

This is arguably the best kind of durag out there.

It is very much suitable for maintaining the 360-wave hairstyle. This is because it can compress the hair, making it intact and preventing outward growth.

It also prevents moisture loss from the hair, thus improving hair texture and health. Silk material is shiny and aesthetically appealing, making it very stylish, and it is also very comfortable to wear.

2. Velvet Durags

Durags made from velvet materials are very comfortable to wear and unique in design. However, these durags cannot compress the hair effectively. This makes it unsuitable for people with the stylish 360 wave hairstyle. Although, you can combine it with the silk durags for a better outcome.

3. Mesh Durags

This is one type of durags that is known for its aesthetic function. It is also one of the least expensive durags available. Therefore, you do not have to break the bank to look chic. Although, you cannot use it for the hairstyle 360 waves as it cannot compress the hair. This can be because it’s lightweight. It also gives a see-through effect which some people find unique.

4. Satin Durags

If you’re not careful, you could mistake a silk durag for satin durags at first glance. However, satin durags are lightweight compared to silk, and it is also inexpensive, just like the mesh durags. Unfortunately, it has a little function regarding compression ability, and it can’t be used to get the waves’ effect.


Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Tie My Durag Tight and Neat?

Tying a durag is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is follow the necessary procedures listed above, and you’re good to go. 

One major thing you should pay attention to is to check for any lumps as you tie; this would enable you to discover your mistake quickly. If there are lumps, all you have to do is lose it and start afresh. But this time, be more cautious when tying your durag.

Also, remember not to tie it too tight; however, it should be firm. Tying too tight would cause you a headache and head marks.

When Should I Wear a Durag?

Durags can be worn at any time of the day, and you can wear them during the day or night, depending on why you are wearing them. As a fashion statement, you can rock a durag anytime you go out. 

After all, a durag compliments most outfits. If you’re wearing yours to prevent your hair from sun exposure, then you should know that anytime you sunbathe, you must put on a durag. 

For people who wear it to create that stunning waves effect, you should wear a durag both day and night, which helps preserve the curls.

Is It Okay to Wear a Durag All Day?

Yes, it is ok. Wearing durags all day has no harmful effects. I have heard this question frequently asked. Some people believe tying a durag all day can cause your head to ache. Some think it’s simply unhealthy to cover your hair all day, especially with something as firm as a durag. Debunk these beliefs!

I recommend that men who always want to maintain their curls consider wearing durags for most of the day. But it’s important not to tie your durag too tight. Perhaps you feel dizzy after a while, you can remove it.


Conclusion

And that’s all, guys! With all you have learned about durags, I am sure you are thinking of getting a durag and rocking it to your next outing. Trust me; you won’t be the only one doing this as celebrities and superstars do likewise.

And won’t it be wonderful knowing you’re harnessing the benefits of a durag while looking trendy and fashionable? Then, I suggest you get a durag today, especially ones made of silk, and watch your 360 waves ripple!

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