African Threading on 4c Hair

If you’ve been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t use heat to stretch my natural 4c hair.  I will often use two strand twists or braids to prevent shrinkage.  These styles provide me with some stretch, however, my true length is still mostly hidden.  If I want to elongate my hair and mimic a blown out style, I will thread my hair.  African threading on 4c hair is an excellent alternative to stretching your hair with heat.

 

 

What is African Threading?

African threading is the process of wrapping black thread, rubber thread, silk, or yarn around sections of hair in order to protect and stretch it.  This method is used to create beautiful sculptural styles or to protect the hair without using heat.  The threads are wrapped with or without spaces at each interval.  In turn, this affects the resulting amount of stretch that will occur on your hair.

 

History

African threading began as a tradition among the Yoruba people of Nigeria.  In Yoruba it is known as irun kiko (“threaded hair” or “knotting with thread”).  Along with irun didi (plaiting without thread) and irun biba (braiding), African threading can be used to depict wealth, status, commemorate certain events, or to identify one group of people from another.

 

 

African Threading on 4c Hair

What you need before beginning:

  • Start with clean and well moisturized hair.
  • A piece of thread that is at least as long as your arm.

 

Directions:

  1. Create a section of hair using your comb or fingers.
  2. Using your thumb and forefinger, grab the base of your hair at the root and one end of the thread.
  3. With the other hand, wrap the thread in the same spot several times at the base to fasten the thread. Just make sure not to wrap too tightly, so that you don’t create too much tension on your roots.
  4. Continue to wrap the thread down the length of your hair either closely together or at spaced intervals – depending on the finished effect that you are going for – until you reach the end of the section.
  5. When you get to the end of the section, you can wrap and tie the bottom of the thread an inch or so above the length of hair and cut off the excess thread.  Using large knots make it easy to take the style down when you’re ready.

 

Lessons Learned from African Threading

  • Moisturize your hair very well before installing the thread.  This will ensure that your hair isn’t dry when it’s time to take the threads out.
  • Try to stay away from yarn or cotton threads when installing.  They tend to dry your hair out quicker than using polyester or rubber to stretch your hair.
  • Be mindful that you don’t tug too hard on the threads as you take them out.  Otherwise, you run the risk of cutting your hair.
  • If you make your hair parts neat and/or symmetrical, it is much easier to create a chic protective style using the threaded hair.
  • The closer together the threads, the more stretched the hair will be.
  • As with anything else, have fun learning about your hair while you do this!

 

 

Have you tried African threading?

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Natty
    August 14, 2019 / 9:16 AM

    I’m Yoruba and was taught to do this from a young age. There is a special kinda of thread my mum uses, feels kind of like fishing line, I can’t recall the name of it, but I know it’s readily available from African shops. If you don’t have it, we use the thread that doubled at least twice – my mum doubles it 3 times – so there are six threads the same length that you use. Makes the threading work better somehow 🙂

    • August 24, 2019 / 2:30 PM

      Thank you so much for the comment! I have been trying to find the rubber thread here, but I’ve been unable to at the local beauty shops. I will try to find an African store in my city and see if they carry it. This isn’t native to my culture, but I love learning about threading and to see the wonderful designs that can be made with the hair. Hopefully one day I can perfect my techniques and be as creative.

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