For most women of color, tying up our hair before bed is a necessary task. From reducing breakage to maintaining our ‘do, wearing a scarf at night has a myriad of benefits for black hair. But when your man is sleeping over, all that smart logic can go out the window.

The scarf brings the attractive factor down a few notches, according to some women. “I feel like Aunt Jemima,” a woman who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed. “A scarf just doesn’t look sexy,” she added.

Admittedly after a romantic night with a new boo when I’m feeling especially alluring, the last thing I want to do is grab a brush, wrap my hair and put on my leopard print scarf. Even if it means I have to sacrifice my new hairstyle in the process.

But what’s behind our aversion to wearing a scarf around a new guy? While some think it’s simply unattractive, others want to appear “perfect” and don’t want their man to see me them in their maintenance state. But I wonder, is it because these women are embarrassed that they have to wear a scarf in the first place?

A good friend of mine, who has straight hair on account of her mixed ethnicity, counts the fact that “she doesn’t have to wear a scarf,” as a source of pride. Her hair apparently isn’t damaged by cotton pillowcases and has the same look the next morning no matter how she sleeps. Scarves, she explained, are generally regarded as a need for “black hair.” And tying up your hair is evidence that you don’t fit the European standard of beauty so many of our men and women still readily embrace.

When addressing his divorce from Malinda Williams, Mekhi Phifer brought up the dreaded scarf as one of the reasons he became disenchanted with her. He said something to the effect that he doesn’t want to come home to his wife in a scarf and sweats.

While I acknowledge his point about keeping up appearances (to an extent), it bothered me that he spoke about her scarf with such disgust. They were married and Malinda is undoubtedly a gorgeous woman but to Mekhi, her scarf made her undesirable—and many women fear their men will feel the same way.

What’s the big deal about wearing a scarf around your boo? Have you ever forgone tying your hair at night in the presence of a man? Why? Do men look down on the act of tying up the hair while desiring those who don’t have to?

-Jessica C. Andrews

  • kearea’

    i actually think tying your hair up at night can be a bad thing. ive had this discussion with some of my girlfriends and a lot of us (sistas) tie the scarfs too tight in the same exact place every night and this definetly contributes to hair breakage. in my opinion its much better to sleep on a satin pillowcase. as far as guys are concerned, im pretty sure they prefer you to have “pretty hair” or “long hair” than to not care for it at night lol

  • Alexandra

    Depends on the guy too. Contrary to popular belief a lot of Black women don’t wrap their hair at night. I don’t wrap my hair at night, (it would end up on the floor anyway). When I was with my ex, I used to wrap my hair sometimes, and he was the one who told me, it made no sense for me to wear a scard, when it doesn’t stay on my head all night.

    My hair is braided a lot anyway. But when the braids come out, it’s either wrapped or tied in a ponytail. If I sleep with my hair out, I’ll have to comb it out & my hair is very tightly curled. Try sleeping with an afro and wake up the next day?! I’m not a still sleeper, and de-tangling is not for the inpatient.

    If you explain to a guy why you wrap your hair at night and he has issues with it, then keep on. If you must change your night hair routine, then there are other ways to maintain your hair without wrapping it. As kearea mentioned, get a satin pillow/case.

  • Alexandra

    Excuse my grammatical errors.

  • Keisha Green

    I wear my hair natural so protecting it at night in some sort of scarf or bonnet is a must. I realize the concern many black women have with this issue and I’m no different, however I feel like if you are really attracted to me a scarf isn’t going to make a huge difference. It’s something you have to ease into when you’re with a new guy but just do it with confidence.

  • Michelle

    I always sleep with a Stay On Satin hair wrap on my head even when I had a boyfriend. He was fine with it and I think a lot of Black men are used to it, (many have seen their sisters wear one or previous girlfriends) so I don’t find it embarrassing. My boyfriend thought I was beautiful even when my hair was wrapped. I think any guy you are with that makes you feel like you have to be “perfect” 24/7 is not someone you should be in a relationship with.

    Wrapping my hair has allowed me to have the long healthy hair I have today so I definitely would not be willing to sacrifice that for a guy’s irrational opinion on scarves. If I was ever with someone that didn’t like it I would just say: If you want me to look as beautiful as I did today, I need to wrap my hair :-) .

  • Lauren

    I find this funny because I have a lot of male friends who just accept it as being with a black girl. My bf used to tease me all the time b/c when we first got together I didnt wear a scarf for like the first 2 weeks he stayed over. Then I was taking a nap with my scarf on and he came over and looked at me and said o I like your scarf I can see your freckles with the hair off your face. Now that its natural he helps me do big twists at night and buys me scarfs he likes.

    He always teases me and tells me I am not really black (black and hispanic) and the fact that I wear a scarf at night gives my claims more validity.

  • StaceyMarie

    I agree that it depends on the guy, but the average Black man w/some sense and home training accepts it is part of the general package. I even had a college friend whose boyfriend REQUESTED that she wrap her hair before coming to bed. Most of the Black women I know use some kind of apparatus to protect their hair at night. I always sleep on a satin pillow case and depending on the style, will add a scarf/bonnet/braid cap. I try not to make a big deal out of the hair protection issue, but I did have some pause w/my white ex-bf, as I was the first Black woman he dated. I explained that I would be rocking some fat twists and a bonnet to protect the coils he loved so much. He said I looked cute w/the bonnet and wanted me to do whatever I needed to do to take care of my hair. My current boyfriend is a Black Trinidadian and loves my hair as well. He’ll say “aren’t you going to tie your hair up?” like I’m about to drive without a seatbelt! Basically, any man that expects you to have nice, healthy hair but expects you to maintain it magically needs to get a grip and get real. I’m sure Malinda loved Mekhi when he was ashy w/old drawers on!

  • Dream J

    People are brainwashed. Wearing a scarf pulls all the hair from your face and allows your “man” to see your TRUE beauty. IF he cannot understand that the scarf is a good thing because the next day your hair will be just as nice as the day before then he is dumb and you do not need him in your life. Out people wear scarves all the time, yes some people added a ghetto stereotype to it by going to the corner store or fighting with their scarf on but we are pass that. Wrap your hair up and let him see your bone structure and beauty!

  • Jay

    I guess I’m the type of chick that doesn’t care lol. For me it’s more like if I don’t put my hair up, I run the risk of looking like Mufasa in the morning (even when I was relaxed). On the contrary there are times when I’m just too tired to even find a scarf. If the guy knows me, he’s used to it. Besides, men wear wave caps to bed *shrugs*. It’s part of preserving the sexy =)

  • Bronze

    That is a beautiful photo. The contrasting browns with a hint of green is soothing.

  • Alaia

    This has always been interesting for me as someone who has dated mostly non-black guys. If a black guy has a mother or sisters, he’s probably been around the scarf/cap thing before. But other ethnicities….not so much! Usually I’ve skipped the scarf until we’re a little deeper into things. Then the question is usually “why are you tying up your hair?” Once I explain, it’s usually never discussed again. Whether they’ve found me less attractive for it or not, I’ll never know…

  • binks

    Honestly, I don’t feel one way or the other about the “scarf” because I don’t use it all the time. There are other ways to have great hair in the morning without necessarily tying it down, for example do a pineapple to your hair and then sleeping on your satin/silk pillowcase, braid it, etc. or if you must wear a scarf get a pretty one at least…lol. But I don’t see why it is a big deal especially in our community when most know that black women do something to their hair at night to preserve the style/look so I don’t get why people are acting brand new. To me it doesn’t take away the appeal or beauty of any woman and nobody is suppose to be perfect 24/7 that is just nuts, seem like Mekhi had some issues that wasn’t dealing with the scarf.

  • Sade

    My boyfriend tells me to wrap up my hair at night; and he always makes a point to tell me I love pretty when I have my scarf on.

  • African Mami

    Lawwwd have mercy is that her skin or photoshop?! It is so like AMAZING!!!

  • ARosenBklyn

    Ha I must be one of the luckiest women on Earth. My man thinks I’m hottest not when I’m all dressed up and ready to go out; but when I’m in a raggedy t-shirt, stretch pants, football socks and headtie!

  • brit

    i wear weave so i dont always tie my hair up at night if i do its just a bandana over my edges.. im just lazy lmao…
    but when my man is there i just put a bandana and leave the rest hanging..
    but if we getting it on…that scarf will not touch this head lmao!

  • Deb

    There are definitely deeper issues. I’m thinking that Sha Stimuli’s “Wake up/Get up and go” (it’s on youtube) video speaks to this!

  • akosua

    Black men (I’m sure well over the majority) grew up in a household with a sister, mother and/or aunt (a black woman). Wrapping our hair was the norm. Just like black men wearing pantyhose on their heads (their mothers) to bed at night to get the waves. That was the norm. My nephew (19) continues to do this day. So these black men feigning disgust or ignorance about why black women do this speak volumes about them, their internalization of self-hate and their attempts to distant themselves from black cultural norms. Black men and women must stop allowing non-black people whites in particular vilify our norms. We are the only race of people that denigrates what we do and allow others to do so as well. The paradox of this all we (black people) will only embrace ourselves, habits, precepts etc. once other races (particularly whites) begin to mimic us.

    So sad!! So sisters do you. Myself, I love to embrace the nuances of our culture. It makes be feel so black and I love it!

  • FattieSoSlim

    HA! So today I was reading an article on Madame Noire about 8 things that will make black men run. Number 7 was going natural. If a black man or any man is turned off by you going natural, or wearing a scarf to bed, then that’s saying he’s turned off by your culture, your heritage, your true beauty. So how can you be called a man if that’s what you’re turned off by? You’re turned off by a scarf? HA! Well then, I’m turned off by du-rags and wave grease.

    It’s funny because it’s always my boyfriend who reminds me to wrap up my hair at night.

  • Fox

    Any brother worth a nickel knows that’s just part of being with a sista. His mama did it, his sisters and “aintees” did it. If he balks at you tying your hair up in the privacy of your home, then he is probably horrible when you all are going to go out.

  • Erin

    If you’re my boyfriend, and we’re sleeping together, you’d better be ready to accept everything that comes along with being with me, and that includes me wearing scarf at night. LOL. Someone asked this question on Twitter and most men said they didn’t have a real problem with it. Any man with sense knows that it takes some sort of regular maintenance to keep a hairstyle alive. If he doesn’t, he can keep it moving. It’s a process for any woman, not just women of color, but ANY woman.

  • LMarie

    I own several scarves and bonnets to keep my hair in its place at night however they usually end up somewhere in between my pillows in the middle of the night. I’m not really concerned with my natural hair but when I flat iron I would like to stay straight. One day I’ll learn how to tie my scarf and keep it on my head all night.

  • EbonyLolita

    I alternate the head scarf w/him. Normally when it’s on&poppin I will sleep w/no scarf. But if it’s a chill/cool out night I put it on just BEFORE I go to sleep. *LightsOut* If he don’t like it he can leave. Mekhi’s excuse is bogus b/c if all it took was a scarf for you to leave a woman you NEVER loved her. Ppl play too much

  • Chelsea

    Oh heck no!!! I hat to be the one to bring race in this but why do Black guys complain so much about nothing? My ex boyfriend didn’t care that I wore a scarf and he’s Latino, I just joked and would say it’s time to get sexy baby lol hey maybe that’s why he’s my ex…the scarf huh ha ha anyways who cares, if I have my hair done up real or fake it’s getting wrapped up because that’s just how I choose to care for MY hair…and besides what about all these dudes walking down the street with wave caps and whatever that cap is that looks like a damn condom lol and they don’t hesitate to wake you up at night for some nooky idiots : ( btw I truly live in a bubble I didn’t know they were married and she is gorgeous she’ll find a man not just in to looks.

  • Chelsea

    Oh heck no!!! I hate to be the one to bring race in this but why do Black guys complain so much about nothing? My ex boyfriend didn’t care that I wore a scarf and he’s Latino, I just joked and would say it’s time to get sexy baby lol hey maybe that’s why he’s my ex…the scarf huh ha ha and it always ended up lost in my covers and not on my hair and anyways who cares, if I have my hair done up real or fake it’s getting wrapped up because that’s just how I choose to care for MY hair…and besides what about all these dudes walking down the street with wave caps and whatever that cap is that looks like a damn condom lol and they don’t hesitate to wake you up at night for some nooky idiots : ( btw I truly live in a bubble I didn’t know they were married and she is gorgeous she’ll find a man not just in to looks.

  • Joanne_

    I can’t believe Mekhi said that! wooowww, now I’m assuming it would be wrong if someone told him it was no longer alluring when he would continuously wear tees and jeans at every event even at his age. I feel that if a man is not willing to accept that fact that WE have to tie our hair at night in order to maintain our hair then that’s his problem. It’s maintenance! I hate when a man does not cut his hair on the regular or at least a tape but I would never stop dating a man because of it, that’s just silly.. If a man can’t deal with something as trivial as a head scarf then maybe it is good that he leaves, because clearly he is not able to deal with adult issues…

  • melissa c

    This is such a subtle yet MAJOR topic, great article! I have a funny story. I was sleeping with my boo and I wanted to look sexy so I had my lipgloss and my sexy bedhead look going on. As we are getting ready to sleep he actually taps me and asks, “Are you going to tie up your hair?” I was so taken aback yet impressed, so I tell him, of course! thanks for reminding me hun. Keep in mind he was raised in an all woman household so he gets it. Eyeroll at Mekhi Phifer, but wait isn’t this Melinda’s second divorce? maybe there’s more to the scarf and sweats situation….

  • Amanda


    I agree that women should be comfortable enough around your man new or otherwise, to be able to wear your scarf with them,especially if you’re free enough to have sex.

    Although in defense of Mekhi, he was referring to Malinda’s overall attitude to their marriage. In the same statement he mentioned she wasn’t in tuned with him sympathetic or cooking/cleaning. I really don’t see anything wrong with his comment that he didn’t want to come home and see her in sweats and a head tie. Most men don’t want to leave and find you in the same spot they left you looking like you’re losing your mojo.

    #just sayin..

  • hmmm

    I think there are some really sexy ones. But, they are sold like they used to be. There is those sexy tie wraps ala pam grier and those sex kitten days something like that they make until this day but the rag ones are another. I feel what people where in the privacy of their home however they own darn business. Now what a married woman wears is between her and her man. But, if she be for a man worth discussing that over with. LOL I think one should wonder to if they are with teh right person when god forbide he lost his limb would she leave him? Or if she suddenly has some kind of disease and couldnt be a part of wholeness in whatever way before would he love her less. See alot of people sometimes worry about the scarf or the limb or etc but it should be an evaluation of the person you think you are in love with. Some people have no idea what love is that was a waste of an marriage and time for him and full time hobby for her of stupidity to deal with him. I never could understand the fascination with him anyway. I always assumed him to be a certain type of person that I dont find to be very good. I dont know him but I have seen him action. I am sure his mother is a wonderful woman; I’m so cynical. lol To each their own that is the beauty of life love and desire is all in the beholder.

  • hmmm

    it takes a doucebag to worry about such a thing. LOL…That all seems so punkish the whole part. I never wore them. I wear one occasionally after drying or add moisture to my hair like a deep wrap spa lol because they make a substitute for hair dryer for moisturization. The built in growth ones, ha! If I did decide to wear one though it would be my business. I feel that it is important to let hair to breathe But, I rarely wear it long. Wow, I cant imagine why that made him had to go there publically and speak about his exwife like that how is it going with the current one. I wonder what douchebag fest broought that to his head. Get over her and move on. I say. Just worry about your current wife and that wonderful mother that raise to be such a fine man! LOOOOOOOOOOOOL I hope him and his wife all the best of health. I hate to see him fall out of love if she would to become less of a scarf!

  • hmmm

    there are some that are straightup sexy there are some that are not within that purpose lol but too me the moral of teh story is that is scary mekhi statements and that he had to douchebag about it in public. Yeah between a man and wife and home that is one thing to talk about certain quirks. O girlie…its like his wife saying honey if you keep having those dagger dry lips everynight with that grining slobbering mouth of yours like a chesire cat than i am going to. LOL I would say she didnt love him much in teh first place and taht lol. I dont imagine why sleeping with them is good for hair breathing. But that is beside the point.

  • ruggie

    @StaceyMarie – well said!

  • Leah-Marie UK

    I agree with the majority of comments made here today.
    I too wear a headscarf to bed religiously and if the guy I’m seeing does not like my headscarf then he can move on!

  • curlychronicles

    aww that’s sooooo sweet of him! :)

  • curlychronicles

    I like your response, though I have a gf (this is a no problemo with a gf lol), she’s stated exactly what you said – that she can see my face and my facial features much better. She likes my satin bonnet and we all know we can’t look like done up superstars when we retire for the night. I think it’s just foolish to expect that from anyone.

  • AlesiaMichelle

    lol Mekhi… Ashy… lol!

    I agree most Black men expect the scarf. Young Black men… some young Black men hope that we AA women will not wear a scarf. The older men I’ve dated don’t seem to have any problems, it is the young guys.

  • jenny

    the headscarf may not be on the beginning, but if we are close enough for sleepovers, then we are close enough for me to break out the scarf.

  • blk women spoil blk men

    yes, some are horrid some are sexay! It is not about the hair garb. women all of teh world have interesting customs and garbs. some are full frontal and leave out the face some are pinned up with a stick lol but this is not the point if he does or does not like that was something he could have addressed and moved on. This is not the big deal. He was just running his mouth because he just yaps. He seems to have always liked attention and just goes on and on about nothing. HE went from b to d list. He has always for since he began his career acted kinda of to me. Its about the fact he has always annoy me and that hear he is whining over his ex. Move on already that is what it is really about and the need for attention to talk about her. Get over it. HE subconiously doesnt get it or he does but he needs to move on. You shouldnt be thinking about your ex or talking about her period! From beyonce to malinda to his current wife and mommy have been to kind to him. LOL…he needs to grow up and stop already. IF you are married to a new woman you dont need to be reminiscing on your ex. I can tell he is crazy about his wife and i am sure he is in love with her but there is no need to be reminiscing on your ex period. lol

  • c-cubed

    I hate that this is even an issue that I have to think about. Can I go to bed in peace knowing that my hair is protected without having to be judged? I try to stand my ground and pretend like I don’t care what he thinks but it bothers me. Thanks for the article.

  • Alexx-in-Wonderland

    that’s adorable. love it!

  • lara

    its funny this is an issue i have always pondered as i just don’t think it looks romantic for a lot of us when we wear our scarves. there are some nice ones out there now that you co ordinate with your night clothes or if wear it covering the front of your hair it looks nice and cute. i think it is when you bring out the stockings/tights or some ugly patterned one or dirty one or it big and bulky this is not romantic. i always think the effort we bl women go thru for our hair is it worth it…i am transitioning now to natural hair and i feel so free – i hated wrapping my hair at night

  • Afia

    So he can lay in my bed, be inside of me, but wearing a scarf is a no no? This is ridiculous.

  • chanela

    LOL i just slept over my man’s house last night and i stopped being self concious about it.hes hispanic and was like WTF at first but then he didnt care and liked that he could see my face more : )

    i call BS on tying your hair up meaning you dont fit the beauty standard. have people forgotten that in the 30s 40s 50s and 60s women of ALL races tied up their hair at night cause they had pincurls n stuff? its just that nobody does those styles anymore in mainstream like they did back then and black women are the only women left that tie their hair on a nightly basis.

  • Monique

    What a cute story!!! I’ve always said there are still some sweet guys out there…

  • smooches

    when my hair is bangi’n he alway’s ask?baby!,aren’t you going to tie your hair up!he’s understanding!i understand when he break’s wind!lol!,but i get over it!lol!

  • Sherrie

    (In my best Church Lady’s voice): Well, isn’t Miss Jessica’s friend SPECIAL in her response re she doesn’t have to wear a scarf!

  • Sherrie

    Listen, if the negro doesn’t like it, lose him. In my opinion, he’s not worth it, it’s your hair’s health not his.

  • nickibklyn

    If a black man left over a scarf … something is wrong w/ him. My husband is Asian and knows the deal. Plus, if you tie your scarf in a cute way…it will look very stylish.

  • kayte

    I’m biracial with very curly hair. When I started learning about how to care for my hair, products, protective styling etc.. I just knew that I knew that I knew that I would never and could never wear a scarf or “doo rag” to bed. I have no one to impress when going to bed, but (when I do and) for my own sake of feeling beautiful, yes, even just going to bed, I knew I couldn’t be a slave to a routine of having to strap anything to my head-especially if I was with someone-and for this I wouldve sacrificed good hair days. I felt unattractive-even sort of un feminine, it made my head hot and wouldn’t always stay on. I hated it. And the idea of transitioning from “sexy time” to “turban time” was mortifying. THANKFULLY(!!!) I was introduced to the satin pillow case! A true hair saver and game changer! It allows me to sleep with my curls down, loose and free and wake up with minimal tangles and that “white girl hair” bed head, lol!! If I want to preserve my curls more thoroughly, a gentle twist up “pineapple” clipped up keeps the curls intact. It may seem shallow, but I don’t fault men who are not “in love” with their ladies nightly hair turbans. I can see why it would be frustrating to know your woman looks good for everyone else during the day but at night he gets the short end of the stick:/ Everyone has their own reasons and routines, do what works for you and makes you feel beautiful..but if you haven’t tried a satin pillow case, do it!;)

  • kayte

    I don’t think anything is “wrong” with him. I think it’s understandable that a man would be frustrated that a woman would look beautiful during the day for strangers but at night she looks rough for her own man. Who wants that?:(