African threading is a great method of stretching natural hair. For ages, African women have used threading to style their hair as well as stretch it without resorting to heat styling appliances. In this post, I’ll look at the best type of thread to use for African hair threading if you opt to stretch your hair without heat.
African hair threading was quite popular when I was growing up.
I remember my mum threading my sister and I every Saturday afternoon.
She would start with my younger sister who hated being confined to one spot for more than five minutes.
Her fidgeting didn’t bother my mum.
She was determined to make her girls look dashing in church the next day.
Yes, this was our Sunday hairstyle.
Surprisingly, we looked forward to the unthreading days.
We enjoyed seeing the thread roll back to reveal our stretched out hair that was long, soft, and manageable.
I guess this was motivation enough to keep us seated for over 30 minutes every weekend.
I remember swearing that I would never thread my hair when I left my mama’s house.
Years later, and I love threading my hair.
It’s the style I go to whenever I want my hair stretched out or rest my hair a bit from too much manipulation.
What is African hair threading?
African threading is a pretty simple style that involves wrapping thread around sectioned hair from the root to the tip to straighten or control the hair.
The hair can be threaded when dry or damp.
Traditionally, African women sectioned hair into eight parts but you can make them bigger or smaller.
Smaller sections are great for styling while bigger sections are great when you want to stretch your hair.
Are there any benefits of threading natural hair?
There are plenty of good reasons to start threading your hair.
For starters, it is a heat-free way of stretching your hair.
I am sure you know by now the damage heat does to your natural hair.
Threading can also be worn as a protective style to keep your hair from excessive manipulation.
It’s easy to wear, maintain and can be styled in so many ways – mini braids, simple up-dos, etc.
While wearing it as a protective style, do not wash your hair.
Also, be careful not to wear it too tight especially if wearing it for longer than a week as you risk breaking your hair instead of protecting it.
Using African threading to stretch your hair helps to prevent breakage, retain moisture, and to prevent shrinkage – especially after washing your hair.
Best type of thread to use for African hair threading
What type of thread to use may vary depending on what’s available.
Some use thread while others use braids.
Regardless of what you choose to use, the results remain the same.
They only differ in the ease of use.
Having done threading for nearly all my life (LOL), here are the best types of threads I would highly recommend.
Acrylic wool or yarn seems to be the most popular modern way of threading African hair because of how easy it is to wrap it around the hair.
It’s also more natural-looking compared to other thread types.
With acrylic yarn, you can keep your African threading protective style for longer than three weeks without risking your hair.
This is because it’s known to retain moisture.
And the great news is that acrylic yarn is washable.
However, it gets very wet when washed which can cause a bit of strain on your hair.
It does not get damaged when washed, if anything, it gets softer.
A good example of acrylic yarn is the popular Brazilian wool.
Since acrylic yarn tends to collect lint and product build-up, it’s best if you cover your hair every time you go to bed.
Also, regular washing with a lightweight shampoo and conditioner is encouraged.
- Easily accessible
- Easy to style
- Soft and smooth
- Tends to quickly unravel if not tightly knotted
- Easily collects dirt and lint
Knitting cotton yarn
Knitting yarn made from 100% cotton is another great thread for African threading especially if you don’t want to deal with tugging.
If you choose cotton yarn be sure not to wear your threading for longer than a week.
This is because cotton will absorb moisture from your hair leaving your hair super dry.
And don’t we all know how much of a good recipe dryness is for breakage?
- Strong and durable
- Easy to work with
- Holds hair firmly
- Absorbs moisture from the hair
Polyester thread is another popular thread used for African threading.
You will mostly see it in salons being used to sew in weaves, hair extensions, and wigs.
It is strong, durable, and can be worn for longer periods without damaging your hair.
It’s mostly available in black color but you can also get it in beige, dark grey and coffee brown.
- Strong and durable
- Available in different colors
- Easy to use
- Unravels pretty fast when cut
The nylon thread is similar to the nylon used to make wigs, weaves, and hair extensions.
It is a high-quality thread and used in professional salons.
Because of its glossiness, it gives your hair a lovely sheen.
It’s the most available thread type, easy to use, and is perfect for threading as a protective style.
- Does not tangle
- Available in different colors
- UV resistant
- Strong – does not break
- Easy to remove
- Glides easily through the hair not causing any friction when in contact with hair
- Tends to unwind when cut so you have to tie the tip very tightly
Shoelaces? Yes, people use shoelaces for threading.
For some, it’s the thickness of the laces that they like while for others it’s the fact that it’s a cheaper option.
What is the best type of thread to use?
The type of thread to use really boils down to what appeals to you.
Also, how long you plan to rock the threading style will determine the type of thread you will use.
For most naturalistas, acrylic yarn seems to be their best choice.
This is because acrylic yarn gives you plenty of freedom to experiment with different hairstyles.
How to do African threading on natural hair
To do African threading, you will need some thread of your choice and a pair of scissors.
Start by moisturizing and detangling your hair then section the hair into eight parts.
The parts don’t have to be perfectly done or equal, just use your fingers to section and detangle.
If your hair is too tangled, you can use a detangling brush.
Cut your thread into sizable lengths that you can manage to wrap around your hair with ease.
Now take the first section and holding it from the root, start wrapping the thread a centimeter away from the root.
Wrap it all the way to the ends.
Do a knot at the tip to secure it so that it doesn’t unravel.
If you do not want to tie a knot, you can use rubber bands to secure the tips.
Repeat the same process for all the sections.
When removing the threads, apply a generous amount of oil on the tip to loosen the knot.
Then gently remove it and unthread your hair.
The oiling helps you not to damage the tips of your hair when untying the knot.
Tips and tricks for African hair threading
From my year’s worth of experience threading my natural hair, adhering to the following tips and tricks have made threading so much easier for me:
Starting on clean hair: Before threading, wash and condition your hair.
Properly detangling your hair: You want to make sure your hair is knotless before you start threading. Threading tangled hair will obviously lead to breakage which is one of the things you are trying to prevent with threading. You can use your fingers or a detangling comb/brush. If your hair is very kinky, you can use a detangling moisturizer alongside the two.
Moisturizing beforehand: I cannot overemphasize the need to moisturize your hair. African hair literally survives on moisture to grow long and healthy. Whatever your reason for threading is, moisturize before you start threading. Also, moisturize immediately after taking out the thread and especially if your hair feels dry.
Be gentle when taking out the thread: To take out the threads gently not to break your hair.
Straightening as I thread: If you want your hair to be very stretched or rather if your reason for threading is to stretch your hair, the trick is to straighten your hair as you thread.
Things to avoid when wearing African threading styles
While threading is a great protective style, I find that it can damage your hair if you are not careful. Try and avoid:
- Washing your hair while in threads. Wash your hair before or after remove your threadings
- Threading your hair too tight. I know there are plenty of natural hair “gurus” claiming that threading your hair tight makes it stretch more. While this may be true, be careful not to over tighten it as you may cause your hair to break.
- Threading very small sections. Unless you are threading your hair to style it, there is no need to thread very small sections. The smaller the sections, the higher the chances of your hair breaking.
- Wearing your threaded hair for way too long. I know the question in your mind right now, is how long is too long. Well, threaded hair should be worn for no longer than six weeks and especially if the sections are too small to avoid breakage.
To thread when hair is wet or dry?
Well, there has been a bit of debate on this. I think it all comes down to what you prefer. Myself, I like to style my hair when damp including threading. I find that threading African hair when it is damp minimizes the breaking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does African threading grow hair?
Yes, it does. In fact, one of the major reasons most women do African threading is to chase length and length retention. Since your hair is not exposed to harsh elements and is not manipulated, it gets a chance to naturally grow without “distractions” and damage hence the length.
What thread do you use for African threading?
The majority of women find that using the nylon weaving thread gives better results. The polyester weaving thread also gives similar results. You can also use braids such as Brazilian wool, Marley braid, yarn, or even shoelaces.
How do you moisturize African threaded hair?
Spray or apply your moisturizer on each section as well as the scalp. Massage the moisturizer into each section, giving more attention to the tips. Do this as often as you can or as soon as you notice your hair is drying. Of course, you needed to have heavily moisturized your hair before threading it.
Is threading good for natural hair?
Threading is not only safe to use on natural hair but beneficial as well. Threading helps to stretch and straighten hair naturally without using heat which damages hair. Threading is also a low manipulation protective hairstyle that encourages hair growth and retention. When done correctly threading helps to prevent hair breakage and shedding. And the best thing is that it is simple and quick to do African threading on natural hair.
Which thread to go will basically be a matter of preference. However, factors like thickness, ease of use as well as how long it can stay in neatly may also influence your choice.
Do let us know what you prefer and how well it has worked for your hair.
Don’t forget to protect your hair when sleeping. Threading is a protective style just like any other and to extend its life as well as retain moisture in your hair, you have to use either a satin or silk bonnet/scarf.