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Switching up your hairstyle can be as simple as putting on a wig, or as intricate as creating a beautiful braid-down foundation for a sew-in. Simply put, "A sew-in is a type of weave," says Geneva Fowler. You braid your natural hair into cornrows and see extensions into the cornrow braids. Usually, you leave a small amount of your natural hair out on top and in the very front to cover the tracks. (Tracks are the weft of hair extension)."
With proper care, maintenance, and the help of a seasoned stylist, sew-ins can be an excellent protective style and give you the hair of your dreams. These days the technology and hair options make it easy to leave the salon with a sew-in that looks like it sprouted from your scalp. From the leave-out technique to the lace front sew-in, there are many options that fit nearly every lifestyle. To prove it to you, we've rounded up a variety of sew-in options along with pro styling tips from Fowler and natural hair experts Erinn Courtney and Kamara Brown.
Meet the Expert
- Erinn Courtney is a Los Angeles-based StyleSeat hairstylist and natural hair expert.
- Geneva Fowler is a natural hair expert and the lead braid stylist at BEAUTYBEEZ.
- Kamara Brown is a StyleSeat hairstylist and natural hair expert. She is based in West Hollywood, CA.
From asymmetrical bobs to cascading curls. keep scrolling for 22 sew-in hairstyles to inspire your next salon visit.
Ombré color gives these waves a little something extra. And if you're on the hunt for a natural look with your own hairline, Brown says this is it. "This style looks so natural and frames the face well," she comments. However, there's a catch: "This can be high maintenance because your natural hair needs to be styled to keep the look intact," adds Brown.
To get these loose waves, you'll first need to use a curling wand. And to make them last, Brown recommends pinning them at night. Sleeping with a silk pillowcase will also help this style last longer and keep the shine, she adds.
One major perk of a sew-in is that you can experiment with length even if your hair is longer than the style you're interested in trying. So why not give this super-sleek blunt bob a go? To prevent heat styling your hair daily, wrap your hair each night and secure it with a Grace Eleyae All Silk Turban ($77).
This bombshell curl style on Jordyn Woods is a showstopper. "The volume is beautiful and the curls create a nice shape and height," comments Brown. She attributes its natural appeal to Woods's hairline and part showing. "To keep the curls tight you will have to re-wand the curls a volume sharp spray can be used to keep the curls from falling and hold them in place," she instructs.
Ginger Bob With Side-Parted Fringe
The universally flattering lob gets an upgrade with ginger color and a side of fringe. If you're looking for an opportunity to experiment with color, ask your colorist for a custom shade to go alongside your cut and style.
Neal Farinah is a haircare giant and the mastermind behind Mary J. Blige's look here. When it comes to sew-ins, his recommendation isn't to purchase the most expensive bundles. Instead, he says it's all about the foundation (aka the braid down). If you find your scalp itchy post-braid down, products like Canviiy's Scalp Bliss Organic Serum ($20) and Luxe Therapy's Scalp Soother ($10) can help take the itch out.
Contemporary Curly Updo
There are two things this beautiful style encompasses: a blow-out hair texture and an installation that allows for hair to be pulled up. For hair extensions that mimic the texture of your natural hair, try brands like Heat Free Hair, Big Chop Hair, and Hair for the Girls.
Curly Wand Curls
Curls on curls on curls. "What’s flattering about this look is that the bang is super easy to wear and always looks chic," comments Courtney. It can complement a larger forehead and/or a long neck too, she adds. And the best part? "It doesn’t require any special maintenance because all of the natural hair is braided in, so the sew-in should stand the test of time."
Long and Straight
Long, glossy hair will never go out of style. Meanwhile, a start middle part is super trendy. A silk pressed sew-in will get you Kehlani's sleek 'do but to keep flyaways at a minimum—without making hair too oily—grab a handy dryer sheet.
Wavy Blonde Lob
OK. Let's talk about this glorious blonde hair. It is fire. That's it, that's the caption. Getting this shade will likely require a customized color, but we say go for it. That, and the glitter eye, too.
Textured Bob With Full Fringe
Trying on short hair doesn't have to be permanent. A sew-in can be a great way to test a style before taking the plunge. "This hairstyle would be best for people who want to see themselves with big and voluminous hair. Also, this is great for people with 4c type hair because it matches well with their texture and doesn’t require extreme straightening," says Courtney.
To keep this style looking its best, Courtney says it might require using rollers on hair while sleeping or in the shower.
Long and Curly
Opting for a sew-in doesn't mean you can't still rock your natural hair texture. If you want to try on length or give your own hair a break, finding hair extensions close to your own hair texture is a fun, low-maintenance solution. "Filling a spray bottle with water and conditioner is a great way to refresh this style," says Fowler.
Ella Mai's silky, shoulder-length style sew-in is a seamless everyday look. "It has the perfect amount of leave-out which gives it a flat and natural hairline, unlike a lace front wig," notes Courtney. If you can’t usually pull off full weaves or lace fronts because they look unnatural on you, she suggests trying this sew-in. "The styling objective is to make the leave outmatch the sew-in by flat ironing or hot combing the hair straight," says Courtney.
Bobs are timeless and the golden color of this one really makes the look pop. "It’s classic, elegant, and very low maintenance," says Fowler. And although it's a quick weave, it can be duplicated with a sew-in with a little leave out. To keep it looking fresh, "Just remember to wrap your hair each night and lay your edges each morning," notes Fowler.
To rock a luscious blowout and gorgeous curls, opt for a sew-in style that can do both. And don't forget to deep condition and use a heat protectant, because human hair extensions can get split ends, too.
Side-Parted Deep Waves
Side parts and bountiful waves are a fan favorite, and we see why. Claire Sulmers's deep-hued hair is fun, voluminous, and perfectly frames her face. Fowler admits deep waves are one of her preferred sew-in styles. Why? "You typically don’t even have to re-curl [the] hair, it just stays in that beautiful pattern."
Ryan Destiny knows how to switch things up. Replicating her asymmetrical bob—A-line on one side and blunt on the other—is possible with a sew-in, no matter your hair length. It's dramatic, sophisticated, and classic, all at the same time.
Voluminous Natural Curls
A sew-in doesn't only mean straight hair. Here, Andrea Lynette shows us just that. To style, use a hair pick to lift hair up without damaging your curls. Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross Hair Pick ($9) will get the job done.
There really isn't much to say about this style other than wow. "I love a long curly sew-in. It’s beautiful and great for people who like big hair or just don’t want to straighten their leave out," says Fowler. If you have long hair but want to add volume while leaving out some of your own hair, ask your stylist about a partial sew-in. "Pin curling and setting your hair in a bonnet or silk wrap will keep your hair protected," adds Brown.
Natural Mid-Length Curls
Ready to give your natural hair a break with a protective style but still want to rock your natural curls? Find a hair option close to your curl pattern and go for it. Strategic layering, lots of volume, and deep conditioning weekly—with something like Ouidad Curl Immersion Triple Treat Deep Conditioner, $38—will keep this sew-in looking as light as air.
With a sew-in that mimics a natural hair blowout, braid the hair down the night before and unbraid the next morning—or a couple of days later—to get this beautiful texture. "And a pro tip is don’t forget to detangle, it’s still curly hair so if you neglect to detangle and moisturize you might end up with dread locs (true story!)," comments Fowler.
If you've been wondering whether you can wear your hair up with a sew-in, the answer is "yes," on one condition: Talk with your stylist before installation to ensure they give you a braid down that makes variety easy. This will also prevent any track marks from showing.
Voluminous Curly Lob
This curly sew-in is statement-making and low-maintenance—although wash-and-gos and moisturizing products are needed to maintain the style, notes Brown. "It looks natural and the color is a nice subtle touch that pops in the sun," she says. Brown encourages those with 4a to 4c texture to have fun with this look; it's not meant to be perfect. "Some days the curls won’t be defined and that's okay!"
How do you sew in hair extensions?
"A sew-in is when your natural hair is braided down into a braid pattern of choice so that the extension of your sew-in will have a base to attach itself. You will then use a thread and needle to sew down the hair extensions on your braid," Brown tells us. This process can be quite long, sometimes upwards of four to six hours.
How do you wash your hair under a sew-in weave?
It's recommended that you go back to see your stylist every two weeks to get a proper wash. If you work out or have an active lifestyle, washing your hair once a week is best to prevent buildup, and it's also possible to do at home. Just be sure to use a gentle shampoo and conditioner and carefully comb the product throughout your extensions.LEARN MORE: How to Take Care of Your Hair Under the Weave
How much do sew-in hair extensions cost?
The cost of a sew-in can vary depending on your location and your stylist. Some may see prices around $100 for the install, while others may be looking at $500 or more. You also have to consider the cost of the actual hair extensions, which can tack on another few hundred dollars.
How long do sew-in hair extensions last?
Sew-in hair extensions can typically last you around six to eight weeks. Be sure to avoid going past that time frame to prevent damage to your natural hair.