While a weave affords you a lot of versatility and protects your hair at the same time, neglecting your hair while wearing one is a big no-no. Taking care of your hair when it's tucked away will ensure that once the sew-in is removed, your new growth is healthy and lush. Since getting to your roots can be a bit of a challenge while wearing extensions, we want to arm you with a few tips to help you maintain your mane while taking a break from styling your own hair. Ahead, get some expert-approved tips for caring for your hair under a weave.
Meet the Expert
- Diane Stevens is a Nioxin global stylist and the owner of Cole Stevens Salon based in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.
- Ursula Stephen is a Unilever global haircare brand ambassador, and the owner of Ursula Stephen The Salon, in Brooklyn.
Use A Cleanser with a Nozzle
Even though your hair is hidden under your extensions, cleansing regularly is a must. Thanks to new product innovations, there are options specifically made to dispense products to your scalp without too much trouble. Lines like Girl + Hair make nozzled shampoos, conditioners, and apple cider vinegar rinses that simplify placing product where it's needed. While their formulas ensure your scalp is at it's best under your new do.
"You should wash and condition your sew-in about once every three weeks," says Ursula Stephen. Stephen recommends a sulfate-free formula that removes build-up without drying out your hair, followed by a conditioner that adds moisture to your hair. To cleanse your scalp and hair, concentrate the shampoo on your scalp and massage it in with the balls of your fingertips.
Then work the shampoo down the weave hair, but be sure not to place all the hair on the top of your head. This step can cause matting and make your extensions impossible to detangle. Be sure to spend a little extra time rinsing your scalp and weave to ensure there is no leftover shampoo residue.
Because your hair is protected under a sew-in, that doesn't mean you should skip the conditioner. A conditioner with slip will help make it easy to detangle your extensions and keep the hair underneath hydrated. Give the hair a few good rinses to ensure all of the conditioner is rinsed away.
Apply Oils to Your Scalp
For some, oiling the scalp is an excellent option to combat flakes. Be sure to use oils you know are compatible with your skin type to avoid clogging the pores of your scalp. When applying your oil of choice, it's best to avoid using it any place other than your scalp. An applicator bottle with a nozzle tip makes applying the hydrator of your choice seamless.
Sticking to lightweight formulas like jojoba or argan oil are best, but as we said before, if a different type of oil has worked for you, go with that since you know what works best. If you're going to be wearing a sew-in, invest in an applicator bottle with a nozzle tip. It will direct the oil where you want it to go without getting it on the rest of your hair.
If you're going to be wearing a sew-in, invest in an applicator bottle with a nozzle tip. It will direct the oil where you want it to go without getting it on the rest of your hair.
Apply a Leave-In Conditioner
Taking care of your scalp is one of the most essential steps you can take to ensure the health of your hair. "It is important to remember the scalp must be nourished during this protective style and all protective styles," says Diane Stevens, owner of Cole Stevens Salon and Nioxin Global Stylist. She recommends applying a leave-in treatment with antioxidants meant to neutralize free radicals on the scalp surface.
Don't Neglect the Weave
"You should definitely care for your extensions the same way you care for your hair," Stephen tells Byrdie. "At the end of the day, extensions are a pricey investment, and caring for them will help to preserve the life of the hair." Giving your extensions some tender loving care will not only keep it looking its best, but depending on the hair type, you can extend the life of the hair.
Celebrity stylist, Monaè Everett, says there are a couple of small exceptions to caring for your hair with extensions depending on how they're installed. "If the extensions are sewn or crocheted, avoid vigorously shampooing your hair, so you don't create tangles." Everett also recommends adding some heat. "Always set under a hooded dryer to dry your cornrows under the extensions to avoid sour smells and mildew," she says. "Believe it or not, the ends of your extensions will dry way faster than the base where the hair extensions are attached.
Detangle and Protect
Detangling the hair each night and sleeping under a satin scarf (or bonnet) are the best ways to ensure the longevity of your style. Since human hair weaves can be treated very much like your hair, be sure to take note of how much heat and product you're applying to try to avoid build-up and split ends.
Remove the Weave as Recommended
Your hair will likely grow about ½ to 1-inch beneath the weave, and as the time to uninstall your beloved style nears, you will feel the difference in the tightness of your braids underneath. When left in too long, weaves can start to lose their luster, but one of the biggest pitfalls of leaving in a weave too long is your own hair can end up matted. A deep clean and trim after six to eight weeks is maintenance no one should skip after wearing a protective style.
Everett says the temptation to keep your extensions in beyond eight weeks can be there if your hair still looks good, but she says don't. "Keep in mind that the health of your hair is more important than the look," she tells us. "This will allow your natural hair to breathe and be moisturized. This also helps to remove the weight and tension of the extensions from the natural hair."
Hair weaves allow you to get just about any style or color you can imagine, so take advantage of the versatility, but make sure to care for your own tresses. Remember, the weave will be gone one day, but you'll still have your hair, so treat it well.