Difference Between a Wave Cap and Durag – Quick Answer

Wave caps and durags are quite similar pieces of headdresses and may confuse many. Traditionally made for the special texture of hair that people of African-American ethnicity have, nowadays, they are both quite trendy and useful pieces of cloth.

So it is very important to learn the difference between wave durag and cap so that you can choose the best one for your particular use. Let’s dive in and learn a bit about both of these useful and fashionable headgears!

Wave Caps

Wave caps have basically emerged as a new form of the durag in the 1990s and early 2000s. These are like skullcaps that fit tightly around the head, from below the hairline to the front of the head, covering the whole hair.

Modern wave caps are typically made of delicate materials such as nylon and polyester, whereas they have previously been made of women’s stockings.

Wave caps are currently used for four main purposes: for creating 360 degree waves in the hair (as the name suggests), for keeping hair and hairstyles in place, for fashion purposes as a headdress, and for protecting hair from direct sunlight. Rappers commonly wear wave caps as a fashion statement, and have contributed greatly in making these trendy.

Due to the structure of wave caps, they are suitable only for short hair, whether it is used for hairstyling, protection, or for fashion purposes.

Wave caps are more commonly worn amongst the youth today, and even though they are available in a variety of colors, the most common color they are worn in happens to be black.

Types Of Wave Caps

Commonly, wave caps are classified in three ways:

  1. According to Transparency: Opaque and see-through wave caps.
  2. According to Thickness: Thick and thin wave caps.
  3. According to Elasticity: Rigid and elastic or flexible wave caps.

Now let us take a look at the pros and cons of using a wave cap-


  • Holds hair down reasonably well
  • Creates nice waves
  • Not too tight, so does not leave any lines or marks on the forehead


  • Made of thin and delicate material, so needs very careful handling, or it may tear.
  • Two or more may be needed to hold the hair down for people who have thick hair
  • The tightness cannot be adjusted
  • Cannot be worn overnight to keep hairstyles in place, as it is likely to get removed, leaving the hair-free


Durags have quite the history! They have originally been made for wear by the African-American women and slaves in the 19th century. And they are also known as do-rags or dew-rags, as they absorbed the sweat of the African-Americans during work.

The durag became a very useful hairstyle preserver in the 1930s during the Harlem Renaissance and Great Depression and later on, in the 1960s, evolved into a fashion statement after the Black Power Movement.

During this time, it was worn by African-American men in all wakes of life, from rappers and athletes to the common public.

Other than for fashion, the 1960s saw the use of durags to create 360 degree and 720-degree waves, braids or dreadlocks in long hair and to keep chemically processed hair and hairstyles safe during sleeping.

Even though durags were largely worn by men from the 1930s upto the 1960s, they gradually entered into the fashion realm for both genders.

Types Of Durags

Durags are typically categorized into three types according to the material they are made of:

  1. Silk
  2. Cotton 
  3. Polyester

Due to the materials they are made of, durags are quite durable. They consist of a hood-like piece in the front and two strings at the back for tying. They come in a variety of prints and colors.


  • Made of strong materials, and hence can endure  continual tying and re-tying, washing, and use in general
  • Keeps hairstyles in place very well
  • Helps to create waves in the hair quite well
  • Keeps newly styled hair in place as it sets
  • The tightness can be controlled, and so the same durag can be used for both thick and thin hair
  • Can be used overnight to keep hairstyles in place, as it does not come off easily


  • Leads to the formation of lines or marks on the forehead, especially after prolonged use
  • Has to be tied, so is a bit complicated to put on
  • For some people, it may lead to a receding hairline, and hence a larger forehead

How Do They Work?

Let us take a look at the ways the two products can be put on and used to make waves in detail.


How To Put Them On?

 Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to put them on.
  • If you are putting on a brand new wave cap, then make sure to take it out of the packet gently, as it may tear. A durag will need less gentle handling.
  • Now move on to open the material carefully, as it will be folded.
  • Take the product and use it to cover your whole head, not leaving any hair behind. This will mean that you are covering your head from below the hairline to the front of the head, as mentioned above.
  • In the case of durags, you will need to put the strings for tying at the back while placing it, followed by tying the strings together in a knot. This will ensure that your hair is held in place, and you are ready to go out.

How To Create Waves?

Here’s how you can create waves.

  • You will first need to shampoo your hair, and make sure it’s clean.
  • Is advisable to follow through with a conditioner to make your hair smooth and silky.
  • Dry your hair after washing.
  • Next, you need to use wave mousse, pomade, spray or any other product of your choice for creating waves.
  • Clean your hands and take an adequate amount of the product.
  • Like using hair-oil, massage your scalp with the mousse first, then evenly apply it to your hair.
  • Next, separate your hair into four sections- front, sides, and back.
  • Using a brush or a comb, brush the sections separately, and in the direction, they have been divided in.
  • Check to see you have applied enough product, but not too much.
  • Now put on the wave cap or durag, and keep it on for at least 30-45 minutes, or overnight, if possible.
  • If you are looking for long-lasting waves, then you will need to perform the same procedure for about three nights per week.

Which One To Choose Wave cap or Durag?

Even though the terms wave cap and durag are commonly used interchangeably, it is crucial to know the difference between them to be able to choose the best one for you.

If you have short hair, then go for wave caps. If you have long hair, then opt for durags. If you want some extra tightness along with your durag, then put on a wave cap on top. As a bonus, it will act as a cool fashion statement!

Any more question on wave cap and durag? Let us know by commenting below.

Last Updated on October 9th, 2020

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