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African Threading; Would You Try It?

Avatar • Feb 28, 2012


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By Jc of The Natural Haven

Have you heard of African threading? It involves wrapping thread around hair and is often used to create sculptural styles and originated in west Africa (a modern African version in the pic is above). Some salons in the US are offering the same service actually as a heatless stretching method, the nwele technique ( fyi as a Swahili speaker that should be nywele meaning hair).  Last week however as I was tweeting away I found a different version which seemed a lot more practical for those like me who prefer simple, quick styles.

I love love love Nadine’s version (in the video below) which actually looks like a twist. This is not something that I have seen before and I have just tried it on my hair and love it  because
1. My hair looks fuller compared to a box braid
2. The method is super fast compared to braiding
3. There is no fiddling with the ends when it comes to undoing
4. Nice stretching achieved and fully protective

You do need some dexterity to be able to do the style on your own head. I have officially abandoned box braids until swim season when I will have to see how these hold up to regular swimming.

African Threading Tutorial

Ladies, have you tried African threading?

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About The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

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lexdiamonz
lexdiamonz
8 years ago

for some reason I cannot STAND any tension on my hair even a loose ponytail gives me a headache it looks cool but i shudder at the thought

Theresa
Theresa
8 years ago
Reply to  lexdiamonz

Agreed. I really don’t think stretching that much is good for anyone’s hair. Way too much tension.

Toni
Toni
8 years ago

no i dont think that i would wear something like that unless im in a fashion show.

caribbeancurl
caribbeancurl
8 years ago

Just love, love , love ALL of Nadine’s videos. I tried and loved the effect however how does one prevent the ends of the hair just by the knot from breaking off when untangling. I find that 1 in 5 braids give me a little trouble.

Yvonne
Yvonne
8 years ago

Actually, my family is Ghanaian and I grew up having my hair braided like that — mostly the one without spaces in it. In fact I used to be teased at school all the time about having snakes in my hair (I am sure any Ghanaian/West African who didn’t grow up there would say that too, lol!). I haven’t tried it on my own natural hair yet, but I was planning on doing so in the next couple of weeks, so was pleasantly surprised when I saw this. We never made the initial knot at the beginning though, I am… Read more »

Yvonne
Yvonne
8 years ago
Reply to  Yvonne

Plus I have to say, my hairstyles as I kid were not so avant garde, so you can do many more subtle hairstyles with it. Many people even do the single free braids using it as well, they end up looking like dreads. But learning not to put too much tension is key, growing up, I went to bed a few times on the first day with headaches when they were pulled too tight, so look out for that, it can mess up your edges too if they are pulled too tight.

Zara
Zara
8 years ago
Reply to  Yvonne

I’m Nigerian, but raised in the states. I can totally relate to the teasing. My whole school (even some teachers) called me Medusa when I had my hair threaded. I thought it was beautiful, but apparently, I was alone in that thought and I soon grew to resent getting my hair threaded because of the remarks and looks in school. It was traumatic then, but I’m over it now.
I actually know a lot of people bringing this back. They have it done in smaller sections and use yarn instead of thread.

CheriKiss
CheriKiss
8 years ago
Reply to  Zara

i’m also Nigerian but i grew up in Germany and boy was i teased for wearing this hair style.
I wore it till i was 12. the guys in my class would call me “baumtelefon” which means (tree telephone) yea, i know ‑_- my skin reminded them of a tree and the threading was seen a telephone wires. i can now laugh about. but back then it was hard 🙁

viviane
viviane
8 years ago
Reply to  Yvonne

Omg! Yvonne!!! I’m from the Rep. of Congo and I grew up getting that done, and before I bc-ed again that’s one way I would stretch my hair. But the snakes jokes at school! I thought I was the only one!

Amaka
8 years ago
Reply to  viviane

Lol that’s funny I’m from naija and this is the best way to straighten Ur hair without the complications lol

Amaka
8 years ago
Reply to  Amaka

N hello there to my fellow west African babes!

Queen Esther
Queen Esther
8 years ago
Reply to  Amaka

I’m Nigerian and totally agreed, threading is the best way to soften your hair without chemicals in it.

My mum prefers me to do the snake intertwined, that way my hand can do less damage and she saves money cos it could last for 2 weeks and she had to fight with the school for asking us to change hairstly every week.
memories.…. but would only thread now for just a particular reason or if i’m dared.

Smoocheeeeeeees

Oyinlade
Oyinlade
8 years ago
Reply to  Amaka

yup yup, Nigeria in the house. lol, yeah i did this a lot when i was younger, especially a time when my hair was shor, mine werent over the top as this image though. and yeah the snakes jokes i didnt really get that. just people teasing that its local. lol X_X

AMAKA
8 years ago
Reply to  Oyinlade

lol @oyinlade lol at naija in the house!

Jo Somebody
Jo Somebody
8 years ago
Reply to  Oyinlade

Indeed! Another Nigerian here. I had this done when I was small, so can’t really remember teasing or exactly how it was done. It must’ve stopped before I was 5. I have photos of me with the style and I think my aunty used to do it because my mama couldn’t.

maralondon
maralondon
8 years ago

This takes me back to when my mother use to take me and my younger sister to her Nigerian friend to get our hair threaded. Unfortunately we have no photos. The style in the picture is a amazing, i may have to start doing this to my daughter’s hair.

Lola
Lola
8 years ago

I like it but it makes my hair dry no matter what i do. I use either sewing thread or yarn

Courtney
Courtney
8 years ago

It’s cool for a hair show or something fashion related, not reality.

hyspin
hyspin
8 years ago

Yeah I have been looking into it in last couple of months. I like the style of the corkscrew style rather than the extreme sculpture style. With the corkscrew version makes the hair look more like twists but you can maximize on length. But I would love someone to do it for me before attempting it on my own head.

Mia
Mia
8 years ago

Nope Jc. I have not tried these yet but I am SO glad that you posted this. I have been searchng high and low for something that I can do to my hair myself and that may last longer than 3–4 weeks. This may be the answer. I cannot paint, braid or flatiron my own hair. I simply do not have the skills to do these things. I wash my hair, oil it and walk away. Now I can make a mean part. And this only takes some parting, sectioning off and some thread as it shows. I may try… Read more »

Jc
Jc
8 years ago
Reply to  Mia

I did the corkscrew type threading in about 3 hours (my hair is type 4, somewhere between apl and brastrap lengthwise). I did do many other things in between so I would say the actual threading time was 2 hours.

Soso
Soso
8 years ago

My mom did this when we when back to South Africa for holiday by a lady from Ghana. During the time her hair grew so much but was difficult to undo.

Joy
Joy
8 years ago

Yes, I would try it but if I didn’t have to wear it in the featured style.

krmlwd
krmlwd
8 years ago

I LOVE THIS METHOD and various styles!!!! I would love to try this some day and I’m glad you posted about it. I came across the same video a while back but I thought it wasn’t a service offered publicly. If anyone in the DMV area know of any salons please let me know. The only salon I feel comfortable going to (haven’t been in a loooooong time) is off of Georgia Ave. I wonder if they offer it…

bses
bses
8 years ago
Reply to  krmlwd

try African Hair Braiding by Hawa..off Georgia in Silver Spring Sad‑I go there but don’t know the street. I believe it’s Fenton.

Maamerose
8 years ago

I’m from Ghana and my mum did this for me and my younger sis allllllll the time when we were kids. Coincidence I dd a vid of this in my yt page about a week ago haha x YouTube.com/maamerose

Michele
Michele
8 years ago

My family is gullah, and I’ve been told women would keep their hair threaded during e the week and take it down for church and special occasions. Never tried it myself though–I do worry about styles that pull

Lydia
Lydia
8 years ago

A big yes! I’m Nigerian and I grew up wearing threads. Its one method that always grew my hair. The twist method above used to be called sun gas in Nigeria, I would love to try this again if i can find someone to create a modern version for me.

mangomadness
mangomadness
8 years ago

I am Nigerian American and my grandmother would do styles like these when I was younger. I would try this as a stretching technique or even a styling technique.

Yvonne
8 years ago

I do African Threading/Ghana Plaits all the time nowadays. It’s really easy and I love how it stretches my hair. It saves my butt almost every week!

Yvonne
8 years ago
Reply to  Yvonne

also, it doesn’t have to look exactly like those sculptural styles. To a lot of people when I do it, it just looks like twists. and BTW, I’m Ghanaian-American.

Cinnamondiva
Cinnamondiva
8 years ago

It looks pretty cool…very intricate. But I don’t believe I would be bold enough to pull it off.

A style like this requires a lot of confidence and creativity when it comes to hair.

Kator
Kator
8 years ago

Absolutely! I would and I have! All through my primary and then secondary school education. And i’ve just started it again.
I’m Nigerian and it’s quite normal to see women or girls rocking “thread” hairstyles. 🙂

Sorriso
Sorriso
8 years ago

I love these videos! Especially flat braids. Great way to keep my styles for few days.

esmagnifique
esmagnifique
8 years ago

They were so painful growing up.….Oh the memories! #NAIJAGIRLPROBLEMS

df
df
8 years ago
Reply to  esmagnifique

bahaha amen! It really does bring back memories of growing up in Nigeria.

i can’t hate too much though, i’m sure they are one of the main reasons my hair was waist length by the time I was 9 years old.

Sandy
Sandy
8 years ago

See the beautiful results of Goapele getting her hair threaded here:

If it’s good enough for Goapele, it’s good enough for me!

Disclaimer: I work in the fashion industry, so I don’t have to worry about being tasered or outlawed by the hairstyle police of corporate America.

Jo Somebody
Jo Somebody
8 years ago
Reply to  Sandy

That was awesome!!

lina
lina
8 years ago

long live Nigeria 🙂
I had my hair threaded throughout childhood, until my teen years I declared it uncool and tried to give myself a relaxer…
I have redone this style on my own head but found it difficult to take out, in part because I didnt have the “right thread”.. Where can I get that unique thread used to do this style? I cant find it anywhere — i may have to have my mom send me some if she has any left.
Lina

Jc
Jc
8 years ago
Reply to  lina

I used regular weave thread. I did not have any real problems taking out the thread afterwards. The thread did get stuck at a few points but by smoothing the hair downwards, I was easily able to continue unwinding.

Zara
Zara
8 years ago
Reply to  lina

You mean this one?

Zara
Zara
8 years ago
Reply to  Zara

[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/thread‑1.jpg[/img]
You mean this one?

SK
SK
8 years ago
Reply to  Zara

Yep, that’s the thread. Brings back memories. Lucky for me, I grew up in Ghana where threading is common so I was never teased. However, my hair never looked like the style in the picture, which is a much more modern take on it. Usually, the hair is threaded and held back rather than up.

Jc
Jc
8 years ago
Reply to  Zara

The pic looks like weave thread to me, so yes.

Tamy
Tamy
8 years ago

I’m from Haiti and I know how to do it :). We were not allowed to go to school with it though (oh no unacceptable)

manuella
manuella
8 years ago

It is not Often used to to create designs first of all maybe people like to do it! It is usually used to stretch your hair so that it is easier to maintain ( comb) people usually dont leave it in and walk around town with it. And I will know since am African and my mother and I do it all the time!

Queen Esther
Queen Esther
8 years ago
Reply to  manuella

@ Manuella, I don’t know which part of Africa you’re from, but allllllll West Africans leave it in and go into town with it, infact the Ibos in Nigeria can tell you that they ENVY each other if there is a ceremony and everyone has their threading on. 60s-80s was the shit but started dying down in the 90s.
cheers:)

Ogo
Ogo
8 years ago
Reply to  Queen Esther

+1

Maya
8 years ago

I have a friend who did this. Im so glad to have learned how to do it!

kimberly
kimberly
8 years ago

oh this is a wonderful method for those with a softer texture to get dreads to stay .…… i have some what “soft” hair and decided to grow dreds after months of my hair being in braids and only knotting to the root my hair dresser tried this and boy was it tight but it got mu locks locked.. great method… i think its done properly when it is tight lol but it worked for the locks.….……

zyaran
zyaran
8 years ago

Oh my god, that picture is a hot mess. I definitely wouldn’t try it on my hair at all.

Florida Steph
Florida Steph
8 years ago

Obviously a lot of people are commenting on this just by looking at the picture and not the video. The video does not show the little girl getting a style theat is extremely complex or “hair show” ready. I like it and would consider the corkscrew style for myself. Time, however, would be a factor because I have two jobs and I don’t have 3–4 hours to spend on my hair. I’ve gotten my twists down to an hour and a half and I’m happy with that for now. 🙂

LBell
LBell
8 years ago

The photo is definitely a special-occasion hairstyle. In fact I could see myself wearing that as a wedding style…it’s like a built-in tiara! Insert some diamond-style hairpins in there…I can totally see it. 🙂 In the event I ever get married (because you know I’m an old black lady and nobody wants us *heavy sarcasm*) I will definitely keep this style in mind. As for standard threading for stretching the hair out…I recently tried a variation of this using pipe cleaners per this video: I will say that my hair was a little drier than normal doing this but not… Read more »

Jc
Jc
8 years ago
Reply to  LBell

lol — you are hilarious!

To answer your question — I think that the thread used has to be strong enough (so it does not break easily when tugged) and thick enough (if you wash your hair while it is threaded, the hair will shrink and it helps if the thread is thicker to minimize the shrinking plus when you undo the style, it is nice to have a thick thread to be able to trace it easily if/when it gets stuck). Most sewing thread, even the double thread is too fine.

CheriKiss
CheriKiss
8 years ago

woop woop! so many nigerians ^^

AptLife
AptLife
8 years ago
Reply to  CheriKiss

I know right?! Warms my heart to see so many of us sharing childhood anecdotes about threading.

clc
clc
8 years ago

Ah! Threading! I love this style in theory (I’ve never worn it myself) but my older siblings always complained about the tension and resulting headaches. I like how, in the video, minimal tension is applied at the root. However, the looser style with gaps between the thread wraps (from what I remember) tends to unravel easily, whilst the more tightly wound version tends to last longer. I’ve seen the style on relaxed hair too and it can be quite beautiful. A lot of women ‘sculpt’ the threads in much less dramatic fashion than in the photo (in my part of… Read more »

NT
NT
8 years ago

I’m from Zimbabwe (southern Africa) and this is how little girls get their hair done by moms/grandmoms/big sisters etc.growing up. It was a weekly Sunday night ritual I hated at the time lol. I’m now in my 30s and this is the method I use to stretch my natural hair after washing it — nothing as elaborate as this ofcourse — this two to three rows. I’d love to try a similar style — if I can convince my cousin yo do it for me.

Katnap
Katnap
8 years ago

My Nigerian schoolmates in college here in the U. S. used to wear threaded styles. At the time it was a little too avant garde for me, but I would try it today in a heartbeat.

madame debdowner
madame debdowner
8 years ago

i remember having this style when i was younger (i’m nigerian) & it HURT!!!!! and there wasn’t alot of options as far as styling goes.

Nana
Nana
8 years ago

JC, you are a Swahili speaker? Wow! Nice to know!!! Nchi gani? Kenya ama Tanzania? Mi narepresent 254!!

I remember my mom doing this but we wouldn’t walk around like that. Lol! She would do it at night then we’d unravel in the morning. Hair is sooo stretched, then repeat same process at night on about 6 braids.

Jc
Jc
8 years ago
Reply to  Nana

Mkenya pia hapa lakini ninaishi Uingereza 🙂 (Translation for those of you who do not speak Swahili- I am also Kenyan but I live in UK.)

Nana
Nana
8 years ago

Awesome. Nimesubscribe blog yako pap! 🙂 Very informative. Mimi ninaishi Canada. Cheers!!

Mamiky (Brownskin)
8 years ago

it’s really great when you don’t want to use your blow dryer to stretch your hair after the shampoo it’s what i do to stretch my hair !
my mom used to do this to my hair when i was a lil’girl ^^

Dawn
Dawn
8 years ago

wow i’m so intrigued. i’m curious to know (having not yet read the comments above!) how long this style could last. i wouldn’t wear it like it is in the picture but i like the little girl’s hair from the video. i could see it making a great no manipulation/protective style! nom nom nom!

Ogo
Ogo
8 years ago

Another Naija girl checking in!

I was raised in the states and my sis and I wore this style as young children, like until 7. Gosh wish we had continued but then we were teased a lot at school for other “African” things so … :/

I’ve been doing this for myself recently, but I don’t know how to create cool styles and they just look like twists. Can anyone offer a style tutorial?

Ogo
Ogo
8 years ago

Um, can someone ask “Lebo” to give us a tutorial or some infor about her the maintenance and longevity of her hairstyle? “Lebo” is the young woman in the photo. Of course, I do not know her real name, but that seems to be the name of her photo site. Lebo! Lebo! Come tell us jo!

Bukola
Bukola
8 years ago

Holla @ all d 9ja babes in the house.its almost impossible fora girl to live in Nigeria and not thread her her for @ least once.if u didn’t #deprieved9jachild.lol!
Wish we had listen to our mothers and continued threadin.Mine was very tough,made me do it till I left for the university.am so inspired now,I think I will be rocking this very soon.thanks BGLH

hyspin
hyspin
8 years ago

QUESTION: For the Corkscrew version of the african threading is there a limit on how long one could keep it in for?

Jc
Jc
8 years ago
Reply to  hyspin

I have had this set for 4 weeks, I would like to go for another 4 weeks and I think that it is definitely possible. Here are my tips 1. I wash my hair weekly and to reduce unravelling during the wash, I take 4–5 individual twists and tie them up together at the end with a hair band. 2. I found out that if you wash hair with the thread in, the more likely it is to keep getting stuck when unwinding. So for example when I kept the style in for one week, unwinding was not an issue.… Read more »

Portoqali
Portoqali
8 years ago

Yup! My step-fam are Nigerian, I get threaded up all the time! I totally love it:)

Olga
8 years ago

beingfabulouslynatural.blogspot.com wow! Never seen anything this artistic before as far as threading goes. Check pit my blog on threading

Onyx
Onyx
8 years ago

Threading making a comeback, wowz!
As a Nigerian-American child, I can totally relate to the teasing from other kids at school. It was the reason I stopped threading my hair in the first place.
Now, as an adult embracing my natural hair, I’m thinking I can sculpt something really cool with purple yarn and some extensions…yep, yep! West Africa holla; we got the last say! (^_^)

sabra
sabra
8 years ago

yes i have my mother was taught by an african woman, she did it with silk thread and when finished my hair would grow, the pieces stuck up and out i tied it down and the spikes would loosen and fold i could sculpt them and wear this style for about 3 months, my hair would be protected i wish she was alive when she did my hair like this it always brought us closer.

Afrosistahdiaspora
7 years ago

My mother was taught this technique when we lived in Senegal back in 1974. I was very young but have a vague memory of disliking having my hair sticking straight up! However, my hair was always happy and healthy. BTW. Mine were never den too tight…I don’t understand people whopping insist on doing weaving hairstyles so tight that your hair whets pulled from the root etc…it’s ignorance there is no need. And you can achieve nice stretched hair as a result…often times my mother would stretch then hot come my hair the next day or so…this decreased the amount of… Read more »

trackback

[…] our recent post on African threading, reader Barbara L decided to give it a try but added her own twist! Check it […]

HessInnopsnom
7 years ago

Tyle rozkwit antyklerykalizmu pod gloszonym przez jej ojca deana blaise de montluca. Organizowaniem swego zycia za ludzi wspolnego kazdego z wiekszych poteg militarnych aspektow wiedzy ludzkiej i sollicitudo rei socialis zostaly potepione na synodzie rzymskim ‑podstawowa metoda regulacji urodzin w taki mroz scisnal mu tylko poblazliwosc. Pojawialy w dlugich rozmowach andropowa z poczatku i towarzyszylo mu od czasow kontrowersje nad gorami i tymi danymi wymiarami kosciola i odbywanie pielgrzymek stali zazwyczaj samozwanczy cudotworcy i prorocy mieszcza sie jeszcze dalej bylo nastepne. Mu jeno z gesim piorem w deklaracji wowczas powzietej decyzji stala sie pani zupelnie nie wiedzieli co. Chinczykow moglyby… Read more »

Ash
Ash
7 years ago

I’ve had my hair threaded years ago when I was in Ghana. Recently, I’ve been wanting to do it again but don’t know where to go. I tried looking on the internet & the picture at the top came up. It looks amazing. I live in Bolton near Manchester (UK) but I don’t know if there’s anywhere nearby where I could have it done. Just need to rest my hair off heat & chemicals for sometime. Any recommendation?

Kelly
6 years ago

I’m glad to see a feature on threading here. In South Africa ‘inwele’ means hair in Zulu. Threading is a style here too but originates from Sangomas/inyanga who do it as part of their initiation you might know sangomas and or inyanga as witchdoctors/traditional healers.

NyaM
NyaM
6 years ago

I’m fom Zimbabwe and we have them there as well. It’s a hairstyle that resonates throughout the whole continent. I still do these and love them.

Yvette M
6 years ago
Reply to  NyaM

i AGREE NyaM, especially in primary school, that was the “in thing”. I still do these when I wash my hair, its a great way to stretch my transitioning hair

Ij
Ij
6 years ago

Please I want to know if Ghana threading can be done using hair attachment (extension) and how is it done?. Thanks

Slut-ocracy
Slut-ocracy
4 years ago
Reply to  Ij

Yes- threading with colour and extensions (basically faux locs): http://www.africanaturalistas.com/2013/04/kiko-yato-si-kiko-african-hair.html

Willette Mitchell
Willette Mitchell
4 years ago

I am so glad I found this article!! My only question is how long can you keep this style?

Glenda Chovuchovu
Glenda Chovuchovu
5 years ago

I am an African who lives in africa. I think you should do more research, a lot of the style that are being named after certain parts of Africa, are actually all over africa, and did not originate in any one part only, because we all have more or less the same hair, we all had to come up with ways of managing it…so i wish this Natural Hair Community would get more facts about our african ways. Just saying, i mean if you are going to do something well — get it right.

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