Yarn Wraps: The Ultimate DIY Beginner’s Guide

by Kristal C
guide to installing yarn wraps

Yarn wraps, genie locks, faux locs are extension hairstyles worn to simulate the look of dreadlocks. Some people may consider these hairstyle options as cop outs since people with actual dreads/locs invest much time, patience, and dedication to achieve their long, and most times, permanent locks. On the other hand, I view these temporary styles as symbols of flattery in that more women are intrigued by the look and style of dread locks. Consequently, some women actually locked their own natural hair based on their positive experience of their extensions locks. But if nothing else, yarn wraps (or genie/faux locs) make for a great protective hair style for both women and girls alike.


Preparing for a DIY Yarn Wrap Installation


As with any long term protective styling, it is important that your natural hair is thorough clean, conditioned, and moisturized before installing extensions. The basic protocol to follow is:

  • Shampoo (focus really well on the scalp)
  • Condition (preferably it is best to do a 30 minutes heated deep conditioning to really moisturize the hair deep within)
  • Detangle (to help remove tangles and any loose/shed hairs)
  • Moisturize (via the LOC method using your favorite Liquid leave-in, Oil, and Cream to lock moisture inside the strands)


  • Yarn (read below for a reference on how much is needed)
  • Scissors
  • Detangler Tool (comb or brush)
  • Spray bottle with leave-in or simply water
  • Gel (Eco Styler is a Favorite)


The number one rule in choosing the best yarn is that it is made from 100% acrylic. Unless you want to lock your natural hair with the yarn, read your labels and avoid any yarn made from wool or a wool blend.

Other than that, the options are virtually endless in regard to color and color combinations. Many women use the Red Heart brand which can easily be found at Walmart or Michael’s. However, I was not impressed with the look of that brand of yarn. It appears dull and did not seem to match the sheen of my own natural hair. Granted, most of my hair would be covered.  Still, I was looking for something with a little more sheen and not as jet black as the Red Heart brand.

At Michael’s, I came across the Caron brand of 100% Acrylic yarn. It had the sheen I was looking for in addition to being more of an off black (1B) color. The Simply Soft line is indeed soft but also a bit more expensive than the Red Heart brand. Nevertheless, in the grand scheme of things, the material cost of using yarn compared to Marley hair to create faux locs is very inexpensive. It is the time labor that is costly…whew!

Yarn for faux locs
Red Heart Black (left) and Caron Simply Soft Black (right).

Nevertheless, grab whatever color of 100% Acrylic yarn you fancy that best represents you!

Tip: Buy your yarn from Michael’s craft store and use the 40-50% coupon on your yarn to save a few dollars. I bought 3 bundles of yarn (4 oz) and saved over $5 just by using the coupons (available to scan via smartphone).

How Much Yarn and How Long

The amount of yarn to buy depends on several factors: how big are your sections, how thick you want your wraps, and how long you want them to hang. For reference, I used 3-4 oz bundles of yarn to create small-sized wraps at arm pit length with medium parting density. This is something you will have to play around with. 10-12oz of yarn is a good starting point.

I will say that buying an extra bundle of yarn never hurts!

In regards to how long to cut the yarn, I used 35-inch long pieces of yarn. Once I was done, my wraps came out to APL (Arm Pit Length) in the back. Just note that you want the wraps to be at least 3-4 inches longer than your real hair in order to seal the ends using a lighter without risking burning your real hair.

Your safe bet is to go longer than expected. You can always trim down your wraps if they are too long.

Yarn Cutting Tip

Instead of cutting individual pieces of yarn, wrap all the yarn around two chair legs (or table legs) and cut straight down the middle on one side to create a bundle of equal length strings. This process only took 10-15 minutes tops and was a huge time saver!

Cutting Yarn for yarn wraps

Installation Process

Dry or Damp Hair?

We have always done our wraps on slightly damp hair with no issues at all. The reason was simply to cut down on the extra step of drying and stretching our natural hair. Doing the wraps on dry and stretched hair is a good option because parting is generally easier on stretched hair. On damp hair, if you are not careful, can easily tangle. When doing either damp or dry hair, it is important to section your hair into at least four smaller sections to help keep the process orderly.


The conventional parting method is to start from the back of the head and work your way toward the front. Some women choose to start at the front. It is completely up to you. You can also start around the perimeter and work your way toward the center. This is helpful if you have not finished the process but have to run out somewhere. You can simply gather everything into a ponytail/bun until you can finish the install at a later time.

However, it is best to plan for a weekend in as you install these wraps yourself.

The choice of parting is unlimited. You can go with the traditional brick/box parts or venture into diamond or triangular parting. My favorite parting of all is the scallop parting. It is more forgiving in regards to not have to worry about straight parts or lopsided rows.

Incorporating the Yarn into Hair

Yarn Wrap Pictorial

Step 1: Braid Yarn Into Hair

Take one or more pieces of yarn (depending on your desired thickness) and fold in half to form two parts of the “braid”.

Divide the section of hair into two parts. Rest the center of the yarn in between these two parts.

Take one of part of the hair and begin the braiding process. Incorporate the other part of the hair with one of the yarn parts.

You can either braid 1-2 inches down from the root or braid the yarn all the way down to the end of your natural hair or length of the yarn.

We usually stopped a few inches below the root because it expedited the take down process tremendously. However, if you want sturdier locs, braid all the way down.

You can either repeat this step for the entire head before moving to the next step or complete both steps for each section before moving to the next section.

Step 2: Wrap Yarn Around the Braid

Take the ends of at least 2 additional pieces of yarn (more for thicker wraps) and tie a knot at the base of the hair section.

Begin wrapping the yarn around the hair section, taking care to wrap tight/close enough to prevent any gaps showing along the way. However, do not wrap too tight especially initially because this can create a lot of tension at the root of the section. This can lead to extended pain, damage, and potential hair loss at the roots.

If at anytime the section begins to feel too tight, please unwrap the yarn and start again, wrapping a little looser the second time around.

Continue wrapping the yarn around the section until you either reached the end of the braided section or have reached your desired length. Knot all the pieces of yarn together several times to secure the wrap and prevent unraveling

Step 3: Clip Ends and Seal

Clip any excess strings right below the knot you created. Using a lighter, burn the end of the wrap to seal it. You can carefully roll the end of the wrap between the palms of your hands a few seconds after burning to give it a smoother look if desired.

Yarn Wrap Maintanence

Moisturizing Hair with Wraps

I spritz my hair/yarn wraps every other day or two with my homemade moisturizing spray. I do not want to add lots of product in my hair especially since I am planning to thoroughly cleanse my scalp once while the yarn wraps are installed. My focus primarily is on the first 2-5 inches of the wraps (starting from the root of my head). The yarn absorbs the spritz wonderfully (of course!). From what I have researched, the hair stays quite moisturized within the wraps. Got to love protective styling!  

Cleansing Hair with Wraps

I typically did not wash my hair with my wraps installed. Some women do. They would soak their entire wraps under water to cleanse their hair/scalp. This results in very heavy wraps that can take over a day to completely dry. I am put off by this method because:

  1. it is too cold for that in the winter to have my hair drenched in water especially overnight
  2. I want to avoid any unnecessary slippage of the wraps due to the heavy weight of the wraps post wash since my hair is not very long as is
  3. I am truly only concerned about my scalp. Therefore, I have pondered doing some type of rinse over my scalp only (with the yarn wraps separated into several sections for ease of assess to scalp) such as apple cider vinegar and possibly using aloe vera juice as a follow up.

Nighttime Routine

We simple would put our wraps into a bun (if they are not already in one) and cover the bun with a satin bonnet while wrapping the edges with a satin cloth.  A satin pillow case works as well. We treated our wraps no differently than our actual natural hair.

Our Experience with Yarn Wraps

My daughter and I have worn yarn wraps/faux loc many times over the past several years. We both have truly enjoyed the ease of the style (after moving past the huge time commitment). We were able to successfully wear our installments between 3-6 weeks at a time.

Yarn Wraps on a Preschooler

When installing wraps on my daughter, the process average 2-3 days. With a young child, it is unrealistic to expect long styling sessions. We took many breaks and had LOTS of movie time and snacks. I would spend no more than 5-6 hours per day installing wraps on a young child. Starting on a Friday evening allows enough time to finish before Sunday night and before school for the week.

As a result of the growing popularity of yarn wraps, I receive quite a few inquiries about this style. The top concern is how to loosen stiff loc extensions. In order to help address some of your questions and concerns, I compiled all the posts published on the site related to our yarn wraps/faux locs experience here in this single post. This will allow easier access and navigation around the blog as it pertain to yarn wraps. Creating this ultimate guide will also allow me to update it in the future with more articles based on comments and questions left by you, the reader.

Issues Commonly Experienced With Yarn Wraps

From my experience, the main issue I came across with my yarn wraps was the initial itchy scalp. However, to be fair, I experience this often whenever I wear extensions. Nothing that some oil mix (my favorite is peppermint + extra virgin olive oil) and a leave-in spritz cannot handle. Tea tree oil is another great option along with an apple cider vinegar rinse. For my daughter, this Cantu Apple Cider Vinegar Root Relief has been very effective when wearing extension type styles.

All in all, I hope this guide helps you learn more about prepping, installing, and maintaining this protective style. Nevertheless, if you have any questions or concerns to be addressed, please leave them in the comments below. Feel free to share your experiences and pictures below as well for us to enjoy. Thanks for visiting!

1 comment

Eniang Imaobong Atainyene December 15, 2019 - 5:23 pm

Awesome ..I love and enjoyed the writeup..Thank you so much Ma.. I’m currently on yarn locks and its so painful ..I would love to know I’d there’s a way to prevent and solve this..Thank you


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