By Audra E. Lord
Weaves get a bad rep for the damage they can cause. But if you properly care for your hair underneath, weaves can be a great way to add fullness and length, change up your look or give your natural hair a break from styling. Follow these simple steps and you’ll minimize damage and optimize growth!
1. If you can’t afford it, don’t wear it. Synthetic hair might seem cost-friendly but it can make your natural hair brittle and even irritate your scalp. Look out for brands that claim to be 100 percent human hair but are really mixed with synthetic fibers.
Lines we love: Bohyme — 100 percent Remi hair that will last you up to three applications. (That’s nine months! So worth the money.) Wagman’s Hair — virgin Remi hair that’s completely unaltered and premium wefts sold by the bulk. Extensions Plus — great “relaxed texture” options that replicate chemically straightened hair.
2. Condition! Condition! Condition! It’s crucial that you deep condition your hair before attaching a weave. Apply a product like Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Pak (Sally Beauty, $1.29) to damp hair then sit under a hooded dryer wearing a plastic cap for 20 minutes. No hooded dryer? No problem. Leave the conditioner in for 45 minutes to 1 hour with just the plastic cap. Then rinse.
3. Avoid glue-in weaves. Cornrows aren’t only for full-weaves and can look just as natural as glue-ins. Small and intricately placed braids can blend in seamlessly with loose natural strands.
4. If it hurts, get out of there! Tracks should be sewn in firmly but comfortably. You should not leave the salon in pain. Keep a weaving thread and needle handy at home for any tracks that come loose. It’s not worth losing your hair.
5. Add a net. Attaching a weaving net can relieve some of the tension. You can even have the tracks sewn onto the net instead of your actual hair. This makes getting to your scalp when washing easier and makes weave removal simple.
6. Wash it. Part your weave into four quadrants. Create loose knots and secure with clips to reduce tangling. Use a spray bottle with diluted shampoo and diluted conditioner to reduce buildup. Saturate each section then massage product into scalp and hair as you would your natural hair (using your fingertips, not nails and carefully maneuvering between tracks and under braids). When conditioning, use a wide-tooth comb to detangle. Rinse section by section, loosely wrapping back up in a knot when moving onto the next. When all product is removed, create four braids. Finally, sit under a hooded dryer so that scalp and hair can thoroughly dry.
6. Don’t use product. Oils, crèmes and hairsprays will weigh down your weave and cause build up which can lead to odors! Aerosol sprays can dry out the strands. If you invest in a quality weave, you won’t need to apply product between washes. If you have a curly weave, a dollop of leave in condition on the damp hair will control frizz.
7. Don’t use heat. Steer clear of curling and flat irons. Bantu knots or jumbo braids at night can create beautiful curls and waves in the morning. Just lightly finger-comb. The less you manipulate your weave, the less stress you’re applying to your real hair.
9. Oil your edges and scalp. Rosemary herb combined with an oil like jojoba or almond can condition hair and stimulate growth. Mix in a squirt bottle so that you can direct the oil to your scalp and avoid the contact with your weave. Try Aura Cacia 100% Pure Essential Oil, (Amazon, $2.99).
10. Take a break. Giving your hair a rest from weaves doesn’t necessarily mean your locks have to go from long and curly to cropped and relaxed overnight. If you want to keep up one consistent look even in between weaves, try faux ponies or half-wigs. A few of our faves: Milky Way Human Hair Weave Master Ponytail – French Super (Black Hairspray, $20.99), Outre “Polly” Quick Weave, $15.99 and Shake N Go Freetress Afro Drawstring Ponytail (Amazon, $9.98). Your strands will thank you later!