4 Ways to Use African Threading to Promote Length Retention

Au Curls Naturelle - Curlyfarah

Au Curls Naturelle – @curlyfarah

African threading is a traditional styling technique that goes back ages. For this technique, black thread (typically smooth, like shown below in DiscoveringNatural’s video) is wrapped around strands of hair from just above the roots all the way to the ends. This wrapping is not just stylish, but also protective in many ways, hence its increasing popularity in the natural hair community over the past few years. If you are interested in learning more about how to use African threading for length retention, then this article is for you.  Here are just a few ways:

1. Stretching or straightening natural hair without heat

One of the more popular ways to use African threading for length retention is to stretch, or even straighten, natural hair. For one, unlike the blow dryer, threading is a heatless, less damaging option. For two, threading is more effective at stretching than twists or plaits.  The following video is a good tutorial on how to effectively stretch hair with threading.

2. Protecting your ends while styling (e.g., to reduce single-strand knots)

If you do not want to wrap entire strands of hair, there is the option of just wrapping the ends, like Bola does in the following video (after the 6:30 mark). This technique will help to reduce single-strand knots, tangling, and manipulation.

3. Using as an alternative to blowdrying prior to flat ironing

For many naturals, a blowdrying step generally precedes the flat ironing step in order to achieve maximum smoothness and straightening. However, this double dose of heat and manipulation can mean breakage for some of us. In order to reduce excessive heat and handling, try threading as an alternative to blowdrying to get your hair as straight as possible. Then follow up with your usual flat-iron routine as demonstrated in the video below.

4. Protective styling via threading

These last two videos share important tips and techniques (including how to maintain your hair) while African threading as a full-on protective style.  Do check them out before starting on your own strands.

 Finally, to reduce breakage or any mishaps when protective styling, here are a few tips on what to avoid:

– Washing your hair while threaded

– Threading too tight

– Threading too small of a section

– Wearing the style for too long (styles are typically worn for a few weeks or less)

Have you used African threading to retain length?  Share below!



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28 thoughts on “4 Ways to Use African Threading to Promote Length Retention

  1. “The wrapping is not just stylish…”
    LMAO it’s not stylish. I’m African and my mom used to do this to my hair all the time when I was growing up. And the non-African black girls used to tease me to hell but at least my hair was longer than chin length.

    • I’m sorry that happened to you. As a black American woman I think it can be stylish. Remember most children and adults tease when they are envious and/or do not understand. Not all black girls think like the ones that teased you, try to not to group all of us together.

    • Well as a non-African Black woman I’ve always had hair down my back. Why is it that Africans seem to have such a disdain for other Black people? Just because you are from the continent it doesn’t make you any better than us.

      • Where did you get the idea that Africans have disdain for other Black people? You lost me somewhere…

        • I know many Africans and to be honest they definitely have a negative view of Black Americans. Do you know what an akatta is? I’m not sure I spelled it right, but there is most certainly a disdain.

      • If at all you’re sensing a distain, It is more from the cultural clash. Traditional African values and stereotypical black American behavior do not mix. Oil and water. The same way black ppl give someone a hard time when they believe he is not acting ‘black’ enough. The Traditional African outlook dislikes the ‘American/hood’ persona. Both sides are guilty of it.

    • I’m Nigerian and did this as a child till a tween whilst living there. It is stylish but I don’t need to remind you of the tears that fell during the process lol. The upside was the take-down and how the thread just slid through your hair and the relief that came with it…aaahhh! Thankfully, I never wore it in America because I would’ve been teased no doubt.

    • Non African people will never really understand why we do things to our hair. Actually my little cousin had started to use colored soft string and has started a sensation at her school. By adding the colored string it’s fashionable in her school. It’s no different then when people used to go down to Mexico and would wrap colored string around their hair and then would let it grow out.

  2. When I was transitioning and trying to keep heat out of my hair I did the threading and It helped out so much I could keep that in my hair for a week. I especially loved it when I would go to the gym and all I had to do was dunk my head under water to rinse out the sweat and then just let it air dry. It was a big help, but I haven’t been able to put it in on my own yet. I’ve always had my friend Cynthia to do it for me.

  3. I am 47 years old and I remember as a child my grandmother used to do the African threading on my hair. I hated it, however she called it “wrapping the hair”. It grew my hair, but the kids @ the school had no mercy….

  4. I agree. Africans seem to have a problem with any black who is not from Africa. Talking to each other in there language while looking at you laughing in your face. Rolling there eyes at you for no reason. Not to mention when I was in London I actually heard a group of Africans call me and my friends N!ggers. Can you imagine.

    • Really, Ali G? While I don’t doubt you, pray tell, who uses the N-word more in speech? Certainly not Africans and you know it. Maybe they were referring to you as “nigga”, the way rappers and the like do…and that I don’t like either. Don’t pretend that Africans are never teased by black Americans for their accents, names etc. If I tell you stories, eh…Anyways, this is about hair style not Africans vs AA.

      • I totally agree with @afrocapricornette:disqus this is a discussion about hair so it’s best to stick to the merits of the hair style which personally I think are many. I haven’t done the style in my adulthood but definately want someone who knows how to do it to style it for me.

        We should also ALL remember that we gravitate towards who or what we are comfortable to and though prejudice is not acceptable, that is one of the main reasons for it whichever side you fall on.

  5. Hmm. I’m not sure how well my hair would like this with all the pulling. Has anyone with fine hair tried it? How do you moisturize with it in?

    • It will hurt, no two ways about that so be prepared. The upside is your hair is straightened buy wavy/curly when you finally take it down, even softer. You moisturize your scalp where the partings are or just mist all over with oil. Your choice. I prefer greasing my scalp and the roots of the threaded hair.

      • Ok. I will pass. I’m not interested in doing a hair style that hurts. I endured enough of that with years of relaxers and my mom telling me It was okay because women had to “suffer to be beautiful.” Plus I don’t think my type of hair would like this because I need to put water and/or water based products frequently in my hair to stay moisturized. Thanks for the info.

        • Don’t pass it up lol. The same way we bear pain with braids, weaves and cornrows. I guess it’s bearable pain. I speak from childhood memories when I did it tight for school. It can be done less tight if you go to someone who knows how to. It’s best kept for a week but you can still moisturize. I have box braids right now and I moisturize my scalp every other day.

  6. Me saying that the girls who teased me had fucked up hair has nothing to do with them being non-African. Them teasing me because of their ignorance did.
    Maybe you need to get out of your feelings.

    • Reread your comment and clean up your foul language. Africans think they are better, but in reality are not.

      • 1. LMAO I’m not gonna edit my comment because you don’t like my language. Sorry mom.
        2. No one here said Africans are better than anyone. Let it go like Elsa -___-

        • Mom? Not even close I am 22 year old woman that has enough respect for people to not curse them out just because I disagree with them. Do better beloved.

          • I didn’t curse you out though… o_O
            Did you even read my comment? lol

            If you don’t like curse words, that’s fine and that’s your business, but don’t try and say I cursed you out when I CLEARLY did not, and don’t try to sensor me because I like using curse words.

  7. My mom used to this with my hair when I was a kid, but as a style, not necessarily for stretching. I’m Nigerian. It wasn’t as tight. Way more gap between each pass of the thread. I found it stylish… sometimes was made fun of, others liked my hair.

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