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)