How to Wrap an African Style Head Scarf

Updated November 21, 2016

African style head scarfs are both a cultural and decorative accessory that can be a practical way for people of all cultures to do their hair. Tying an African scarf, also referred to as a Gele, takes practice, but with so many different options, the possibilities are endless. Scarves come in several colours, patterns and materials; either match the fabric to your dress, or wear a brightly coloured headscarf with a neutral outfit for impact.

Fold a large headscarf into a triangle shape. Place the long edge of the triangle over the front of your forehead, pulling the ends to the nape of your neck, under your hair. Tie an initial knot; pull it tight to hold the scarf snug across your forehead. Add hair clips to hold in place if necessary.

Pull the edges of the scarf up to the top of your head. Twist the ends several times as you tuck all your hair into the scarf. Cross the two ends and tie into a loose knot at the centre top of your head.

Wrap the ends of the scarf under the fabric sack containing your hair and lift the sack up. Tuck each end of the scarf under the knot at the top of your hair, arranging until it is secure. Pull the ends of the scarf through and flair them out.

Add another scarf for colour. Fold a piece of fabric into a 6-inch-wide piece. Wrap around your forehead and tie under the nape of your neck. Pull the edges up. Twist several times and then tie into a bow at the side of your head near your ear.


Use spray starch to keep scarves crisp for best results.


Avoid tying your hair into the knots of the wrap. This can damage your hair.

Things You'll Need

  • Hair clips (optional)
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