African-American hair often has different texture than the hair of some other ethnic groups. As such, African Americans and hair stylists who serve African Americans have developed a variety of unique products to suit their specific haircare needs. Two of these products are headdresses that keep different styles of hair in place — do-rags and wave caps.
A special headdress shaped to be tied around the head to hold a hairdo in place, a do-rag most often consists of a hood-like piece with one string along each side for tying to the head. A do-rag is typically made of a thin material such as nylon or rayon. These materials are strong enough to endure continual washing, tying and use. Do-rags keep hair from becoming unkempt and keep newly-styled hair in place as it sets.
Wave caps, also called stocking caps, are usually made of material similar to women’s pantyhose. These thin, tight skull caps are held on the head with a thick elastic band. Wave caps can maintain the brushed waves of a close-cut, fade hairstyle.
Do-rags and wave caps may be confused because both headdresses often serve the same purpose. Both are used to keep the hair neat, tidy and in place. They are made out of similar fabric and often used as garments under hats and helmets.
Do-rags keep longer or braided hairstyles from frizzing or coming loose, while wave caps are best for hair less than one inch long. Wave caps hold the hair closely to the scalp, keeping neat a variety of short styles and ponytails that are fastened at the nape.