You've rocked a hair weave for the recommended period of time, and now it's time to remove it. While some would rather put in another set of extensions right away, it's important to do five things first. As long as you practice good habits and your hair (and hairline) will remain healthy enough to sport another weave when it's time.
In order to ensure a quick and easy removal process, we rounded up the top 10 tips you should incorporate into your removal routine. Not only do these steps help you maintain healthy hair, but it also gives your hair some downtime between looks. Ahead, get some expert-approved tips for maintaining healthy natural hair after removing a weave.
Even with the most diligent care when wearing extensions, you'll still experience quite a bit of shed hair the first time you comb through your new growth. This is hair that you would normally comb out each day, but since it's been hidden for weeks, most of it has stayed on your head. "Hair sheds approximately 100 strands per day, and while braided in a sew-in weave, it sheds inside the braids," says Diane Stevens, owner of Cole Stevens Salon.
Once you remove your weave, but before you approach your hair with a comb, gently work through your tresses—especially the new growth—with your fingers. This detangling method is a less harsh method than attacking your hair with a comb right away. Once you've worked through any tangles with your fingers, follow up with a large wide-tooth comb.
"Detangling after removing a sew-in is very important because this process helps to loosen the dirt and separate the tangles. Washing the hair without doing this process will cause the hair the be matted, making it impossible to comb through," says Unilever global haircare brand ambassador, Ursula Stephen.
If you haven't added pre-pooing to your wash day routine, celebrity stylist Monaè Everett says it's a must after removing a weave. "After removing the braids from your hair, resist the urge to immediately detangle. Fill a spray bottle with water, oil, and a light leave-in conditioner. Spray the base of your braids [and] use your fingers to loosen the buildup oils and debris from your hair. At that point, begin to detangle your hair by combing from the ends up to the scalp."
Place Hair Into Sections Before Washing
Section the hair into at least four quadrants before applying shampoo. Sectioning the hair will allow you to wash and detangle with care to prevent any unwanted breakage or unnecessary tugging at the scalp.
Start with a Hydrating, Clarifying Shampoo
We know that cleansing with a clarifying shampoo will bust buildup. However, starting your post-sew-in wash process with a moisturizing shampoo with slip will help you start the cleansing process while preventing knots and tangles.
After shampooing with a moisturizing cleanser, apply a generous amount of a moisturizing conditioner, and comb through the entire length of your hair while it's saturated. As always, begin at the ends of your mane and slowly work your way up toward the scalp. Again, don't be alarmed by the amount of shedding. When you can easily comb through your conditioned tresses, rinse completely.
Look for products formulated for dry hair for optimal hydration after removing a sew-in.
Deep Condition Your Strands
Immediately follow your shampoo and conditioner session with a deep conditioning treatment. Look for products formulated for dry hair for optimal hydration. Leave the deep conditioner on for the recommended time, adding heat if the directions suggest. "After you remove a sew-in, the two most important things to do are to detangle and condition," says Stephen. She says a wide-tooth comb and a creamy mask infused with honey can provide nourishment to revive your coils while strengthening the hair shaft from within.
Adding heat can be a good thing. Well, at least when it comes to deep conditioning. A moisture-rich conditioner, a plastic cap, and up to 30 minutes of heat are the trifecta of an impactful deep conditioning treatment.
Detangling with your fingers throughout your wash and conditioning process is the best way to gently massage any tangles and knots without tugging too much with a brush or a comb. However, since your hair has been in a protective style for a few weeks, a post-wash/conditioner follow-up with a brush made for gently detangling natural hair is ideal. Try using the Felicia Leatherwood Original Detangler Brush before you rinse your deep conditioner to ensure your hair is knot-free before styling.
Depending on how comfortable you are taking care of your own hair, you can trim your ends yourself or visit your stylist. Your strands have been pretty well-protected while in extensions, so hopefully, you haven't suffered any undue damage. In most cases, you'll only need a simple "dusting," where the smallest amount is clipped to clean up the ends.
Let Your Hair Rest
As tempting as it might be to retouch your new growth or put in another set of extensions right away, don't. Your scalp and hair need time (anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month) to rest. "You should let your scalp rest for at least two weeks before another installation," says Stephen. "During this time, it's smart to apply hydration and scalp treatments."
When you wear a weave, a small amount of stress is placed on the scalp from the extra weight of the extension hair, and your scalp needs time to recover. It's important to find a style or styles you can rock for the next couple of weeks that don't rely on chemicals or added hair. This ensures a healthy scalp and hairline; without a healthy hairline, wearing hair additions becomes much more difficult over time.