Written by Jay Nailah
Reviewed for Medical Accuracy by Lea Ann Biafora
Headwraps are stylish and functional accessories that can be worn for any occasion. Cancer patients who have experienced hair loss often find them to be a fun alternative to wigs, particularly on days when you’re looking for something comfortable, breathable, and versatile. But many don’t know that headwraps also have a rich history.
For centuries, women across Africa and the Middle East have donned beautiful headwraps for formal affairs, casual gatherings, and everyday wear. The history of headwraps in America stems back to the transatlantic slave trade, when enslaved African women continued to honor the West African cultural tradition of wearing headwraps here in the United States.
This practice was cemented by the fact that, during slavery, some states enacted laws forbidding Black women from being seen in public without a head covering. Although these laws were constructs of colonialism and oppression, Black women took advantage of the prejudiced mandates by using them as an opportunity to honor their culture and traditions through the use of headwraps.
Today, the art of the headwrap remains a poetic form of expression throughout Black communities. When purchasing wraps for yourself or a loved one who is a cancer patient, consider supporting one of these amazing Black-owned headwrap companies.
Founded in Brooklyn by owner, Nnenna Stella, The Wrap Life has been creating quality headwraps since 2014. From solid colors to vibrant prints, The Wrap Life offers wraps in a variety of styles and lengths. The company recently unveiled a collection of satin-lined “bandies,” which are shorter fabrics that are easy to wrap and tie.
The Wrap Life uses a special blend of botanical and synthetic fibers created to make the products comfortable for cancer patients to wear on the scalp for long periods of time. Made with the health of the planet in mind, the products are both stylish and sustainable. The Wrap Life offers a premium experience from beginning to end with their beautiful packaging and great customer service. If you’re planning on purchasing several pieces, check out their bundle deals to save yourself some cash.
2. Grace Eleyae
Created in September 2014, the company Grace Eleyae was inspired following the founder’s trip to Kenya. You’ll find everything from dynamic turbans to silk pillowcases here, but the signature product is the Slap: Short for “satin-lined cap,” the Slap has an elastic band to keep the headpiece in place. This makes it easy to put on and get going. The satin lining makes the headpieces very comfortable for sensitive scalps, and it won’t tug on delicate strands.
Grace Eleyae sells products in an array of classic colors and wax prints. They don't just sell headwraps, either: They also offer baseball caps, winter hats, and fedoras. The Slaps, turbans, and other headpieces are all satin-lined for maximum comfort and protection, and the company offers free shipping for orders over $50. Grace Eleyae’s satin-lined foldover caps were also listed on Oprah’s Favorite Things of 2020 list.
Founded in 2015, Öfuurë offers a vast collection of headwraps in a multitude of prints. The company name, Öfuurë, was derived from the Ishan (Edo state, Nigeria) word “ofure,” which means “it is well.”
With over 100 prints to choose from, there’s a color for every outfit and occasion. If you’re dealing with hair loss, these cotton wraps are very breathable on the scalp, so they’re great for warmer days. You can also pick up clothing items and other accessories here, and subscribing to their email list will score you a code for 10% off your first order.
4. Wrap Queen
Founded by married couple James and Kelly Williams, Wrap Queen offers an array of innovative styles. From West African wax prints to velvet and satin pieces, odds are you can find the look and material you’re searching for here.
Each headwrap is handmade by the small onsite team, so no two will be exactly alike. Wrap Queen also offers child-sized headwraps for those of us who like to match with the kiddos. With 10% off of your first order and versatile payment options, Wrap Queen has all your bases covered.
How to Wrap
Now that you know where to purchase your headwraps, you’re probably thinking, “OK, so how the heck do I wear them?” With countless ways to rock your headwrap, here are a few things to consider:
- Duration of wear: Are you planning to wear your headwrap all day, or just for a quick trip to the grocery store? Some methods of tying headwraps can ensure longer wear than others.
- Style: Whether you’re going for a straightforward essential look, or trying to make a statement, it’s all in the way you tie the fabric! From creating giant bows, to twisting the ends of the fabric into an exquisite pattern, there are countless ways to style your piece. Newbie tip: If you’re going for a more elaborate look, it may help to use an elastic band or a bobby pin to secure your wrap. However, once you get the hang of wrapping, you probably won’t need the add-ons.
- Color: Some headwraps are printed on both sides, while others are printed on one side only. If you have a two-sided headwrap, you can make it more versatile by tying it to display both sides!
If you’re a first-time wrapper (pun intended!), fear not. Each company mentioned here offers online wrap tutorials to get you started. For cancer patients, the utility and versatility of headwraps can help pull your look together quickly and effortlessly, allowing you to preserve your energy for other things. On days when you’re feeling up to it, you can have fun trying creative styles!