What Is a Durag? Benefits and How to Tie One

black man tying a durag

For years, durags have played an important role in hair care and as a fashion statement. Not everyone knows the history behind a durag, how to use one, or the benefits of wearing one. In this article, I tell you everything you need to know about durags, so you can wear one confidently whether you wear it for fashion or function.

History of Durags

Durags, sometimes known as do-rags, have a long and somewhat of a dark history. If you do a little research you’ll find that durags were common during the 19th century. At the time, African Americans wore durags, but not by choice.

Instead, durags were a way to identify slaves and laborers—an indicator that the wearer was poor. And while this negative stigma would hold for a while, things started to change during the early nineteen-hundreds.

The 1930s was when things started to change for the durag. Aside from the Great Depression of the era, the Harlem Renaissance was also in swing at the time. During this critical point of development for black culture in America, the durag became recognized as beneficial for preserving hairstyles, and it started to gain popularity.

During the 1960s, the durag gained in popularity as a fashion statement. The Black Power Movement played an integral role in how the durag made a “statement.” Over the decades that followed, the durag remained popular in some parts of the country and in groups, while falling out of style in others.

Plenty of other notable black people have worn durags throughout the years, from rap stars to athletes. Styles ranged from the durags on their own to wearing them under fitted caps. 

However, due to some negative stigma connected to durags, the NFL banned players from wearing them (as well as bandanas) in 2001 to “improve the image” of players. The NBA installed a similar policy in 2005. 

Though the reasons behind these decisions are questionable, they haven’t stopped durags from gaining in popularity over the past few years. Plenty of superstars are wearing them today, for their practical, cultural, and stylistic uses.

8 amazing Benefits of a Durag

When you look at the history of durags, they carry a lot of weight on top of being a fashion piece. But beyond that, they have a lot of practical benefits as well. Let’s check them out.

1. Maintain Waves

Thanks to the way hair grows out, keeping it down and from overly frizzing is a challenge. Those who want 360 waves go through a lot of brushing, but durags can help with the process.

Because durags can sit tight on the head, they help make your hair get used to laying flat on the head, instead of growing outwards. And that’s just one of the benefits of durags when you want this style.

Another challenge to having waves is whenever you go to sleep since your sheets and pillows can add frizz and dry out your hair. Wearing a durag when you go to bed helps your hair maintain moisture to stay in 360 waves.

If you wear a durag whenever you go to bed, and after your brush session, you’ll be on the right path to maintaining 360 waves.

2. Helping During Exercising

Despite the sports controversies in the history of durags, they’re still an excellent option when it comes to exercising or other athletic activity. Wearing a durag helps keep long hair out of the way when moving around.

The other plus is that durags can help absorb some of the sweat from your forehead. Since sweat in your eyes is a distraction and can irritate your eyes, the durag is an excellent workout accessory.

3. Improving Hair Textures

It’s natural for our hair to lose moisture throughout the day, which can leave coarse hair looking and feeling dry.

Thankfully, lots of products can help with these problems, and durags can enhance the effect. Whenever you use an oil or cream, wearing a durag will extend how long they can stay in your hair without evaporating, which will improve your hair’s texture to be healthy and smooth to the touch.

4. Maintaining Braids

Braids can have the same sorts of problems that 360 waves do, such as becoming frizzy over time. Stray hairs start to work their way out of the twists, which isn’t enjoyable with all the time it takes to put them together.

Durags work great for keeping braids together, especially when sleeping at night. And anything that helps maintain your preferred hairstyle is a bonus.

5. Straightening Hair

Some people prefer to straighten out their hair, but going through regular perms can damage your hair. High temperature break down proteins in the strands, which isn’t something you want your locks to go through.

Using a durag to tie down your hair helps keep it straight, reducing the number of perms needed and keeping your hair in good shape for longer while still looking stylish.

6. Protect Hair from Sun Damage

Much like the damage caused by perms, extended amounts of time spent in the sun can also make your hair dull. For those who spend a lot of time outdoors or like sunbathing, durags can limit how much exposure you have to the sun.

If you want to use a durag to protect your hair from the sun, though, you’ll need to use a light-colored one to reflect the light away. Dark colors absorb more heat, which defeats the purpose of using a durag for preventing sun damage.

7. Protection from Helmets

Biking helmets and the like are meant to protect our heads from damage in the event of an accident. However, when you ride for an extended period, sweat and other oils from the scalp tend to build up—and they don’t always smell pleasant afterward. That buildup can also be uncomfortable.

A durag adds an extra layer to catch sweat before it can get into your helmet and start causing discomfort, so they’re a good fit for bikers. 

8. Keeping Your Hairstyle

We’ve talked a lot about using durags to keep different styles intact for longer, but you can use it on a short term basis, too. If you’re traveling to an event and you don’t want wind, rain, or anything else to mess up your style, a durag can keep things in place until you arrive. Take off the durag, and you’re ready to go!

How to Tie a Durag

With all the benefits of wearing durags, they’re pretty versatile while also looking stylish. But if you’re planning on wearing one, how do you do it?

Depending on the style of durag you pick out, and what you want to use it for, it’s possible to tie durags in a few different ways. We’ll first go over the basic style for everyday use, and then the best method for when you want to secure 360 curls when going to bed.

Tying for Everyday Use

To get started, you want to line up the durag on your head correctly. The best place is to make sure the front edge rests between your eyebrows and hairline, completely covering up your hair. If you have sideburns, they’re okay to stick out from the sides. Also, pay attention to lining up the durag with the center of your head so that it’s even.

how to tie a durag

With everything set up for success, you can pull the ties back with one on each hand. You want the ties to rest behind your ears, instead of over them. With that in mind, cross the ties over each other in the back. 

how to tie a durag

At this point, be careful with the ties, since they can roll up into themselves, which isn’t always comfortable.

Making sure the ties stay crossed in the back, wrap them around your head again, this time crossing them at the center of your forehead. With that done, make a complete loop with the ties to the back of your head again. There, you’ll tie the knot to secure the durag into place.

how to tie a durag

A couple of tips before you put your knot into place. First up, while you want the durag to be secure, if you make it too tight, you’ll risk giving yourself a headache. Super tight knots can also make it hard to take the durag off when you’ve finished with it.

how to tie a durag

Once you’ve tied your knot into place, you want to pull on the flap, which should be hanging towards your back. This tug will make sure the durag compresses your hair, which is especially crucial if you’re using it to make 360 waves.

how to tie a durag

Now that you’ve tied everything into place, you can fold the flap however you like. Plenty of people leave it loose, while others want to tuck in the flap or tie it into knots. From there, it’s a matter of style, so pick whatever look you like and be ready to rock it.

how to tie a durag

Tying Before Going to Bed

When it comes to putting on a durag before going to bed, most of the process is the same as what we mentioned above. However, there are a few extra considerations you can take to make sure you get perfect 360 curves. 

To start, when you’re lining up your durag on your head, you want to make sure it’s inside out. If you leave the seam against your head, it can leave impressions in your hair, which can ruin the effect of your 360 curls.

how to tie a durag

With that out of the way, you can work on twisting the tails around your head, making a full loop around with the tails once. Be sure to cross over the tails at the back of your head and the center of your forehead, but you don’t want to tie them. If you do, you’ll end up risking leaving lines behind again.

how to tie a durag

Instead of knotting the ties, twist them together to keep everything in place for a bit. With a soft elastic headband, you can keep the durag on overnight without worrying about having anything uncomfortable pressing into your head while you sleep. Slip the headband on, securing it over the front end of the durag and the tails as well. 

how to tie a durag

With the tails secure under the headband, you can untwist them. Take this slow, so that you don’t upset the rest of the durag. So you don’t have to worry about the ties getting in the way while you sleep, you can wrap them around the back of the headband for extra security.

how to tie a durag

To finish up, you need to secure the back flap. Like when wearing a durag on a day to day basis, pull on the fold to secure your hair down against your skull. You can secure the flap inside the headband, taking care not to move it from its position. You can then roll up the fold with the headband, and you’re ready to lie down for the night.

how to tie a durag

It can take some time at first to get used to tying a durag. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be unstoppable. Here’s a quick summary video that shows you how to tie a durag.

How to Pick Out a Durag

So if you want to wear a durag, how do you pick out one that’s best for you? While the base style tends to stay the same, durags are available in a variety of materials.

We’re going to cover these significant material types to help you get a sense of how these durags work for hair compression and other vital factors.

Silky Durags

If you’re looking to compress your hair for 360 waves, silky durag materials are one of the best options. Though there are durags made from pure silk, silky durags are not.

Instead, silky-style materials use polyester woven in with others to give them a shiny appearance. When wearing them, they’re also comfortable while looking stylish.

In the compression department, they’re one of the most effective for making your hair form into 360 waves. While you’ll still need to wear your durag for some time to get results, silky durags tend to give better results in a shorter amount of time than other types.

Silk Durags

Like we mentioned, silky style durags use a blend of materials. Pure silk ones use just that: pure silk, nothing else mixed inside. 

Pure silk durags are shiny and stylish, and they also work well when it comes to compression. You get the best of both the aesthetic and practical worlds with these.

Velvet Durags

Another unique aesthetic option comes in the form of velvet durags. In terms of design, the outside uses the velvet, while most insides have different fabrics.

This material gives a unique feel, and they’re some of the most appealing looking options around. They’re also comfortable to wear, which is also a bonus.

When it comes to hair compression, velvet durags do an “ok” job. They’re not as effective as silky options out there, but you can layer them with a silk durag for effective results.

Mesh Durags

Mesh durags use polyester materials, which makes them one of the more inexpensive options out there. They’re also lightweight and give a sort of see-through effect.

The lighter weight of these durags makes them less effective at compressing hair for waves. They can sometimes be more effective than velvet options, but mesh style durags work best for aesthetic purposes rather than styling your hair.

Satin Durags

Satin has a lot of similarities with silk at first glance, mostly thanks to the smooth feeling and shiny appearance. However, satin is much lighter in weight than silk is.

Similar to mesh durags, satin durags are on the more inexpensive side. This factor makes them an excellent option if you want to have a beautiful appearance while not needing to spend a lot of money.

When it comes to compression factor, though, satin durags are also not very useful for making 360 waves. Again, this option works well if you want to wear a durag for the style, but its practicality for compression is limited.

Other Factors to Consider

Naturally, the material and what you want to use your durags will impact the choices you make when purchasing a one. However, here are a few more options to keep in mind when picking one to buy and wear:

  • Comfort: An uncomfortable durag isn’t fun to wear. Make sure the material feels comfortable.
  • Price: Durags can come at various prices. Make sure you’re not breaking your budget,
  • Style: If you’re only planning to wear durags for hair maintenance at home, style may not be a priority. But when it comes to wearing them for fashion as well, you deserve to like what you wear.

Wrapping Up

Now that we’ve covered the history of durags, their benefits, how to tie them, and even how to pick one, you know everything you need to know. Whether you want to try them for yourself or want to appreciate others who do, hopefully, we’ve answered the question of “what is a durag?”

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