When I did some runway modeling years ago, there were several hair and fashion shows I walked in that were favorites, not only because I got paid, but because I usually got to go home with a free make-over. Haircuts, perms, eyebrow waxes, weaves, and acrylic nails were all usually part of the game, and it was fun. Until… “The Disaster” happened.
“The Disaster” was a simple track weave sewn on to cornrows but sewn in improperly. It was braided and sewn in so tight the constant tension of the braids being pulled from my scalp turned what was supposed to be a beautiful, and temporary, hairstyle into a disaster resulting in permanent hair loss, immediate breakage and even scarring at some spots.
I removed the weave myself the next morning after not being able to lay my head down all night, but already my own beautiful (and high maintenance) shoulder length hair was marked with a hairline of bald spots, damaged follicles and tiny white bumps. Don’t let this happen to you!
Here are five tips on how to avoid the damage from a sew in weave:
1. Say something if you are feeling discomfort or pain. It’s a myth that super tight braids make your weave last longer. Besides causing damage from the constant tension, the pain causes your style to fade faster as you are forced to scratch, tap, and try to get into and under the braids in an effort to ease the discomfort. Braids should be secure but not hurt. If someone advises you to take a pain killer before you get your weave sewn in, you need to start getting advice from a knowledgeable professional.
2. Use a well-trained hairstylist. Ask around and get referrals but also make sure they are licensed. Weaving is not rocket science and it doesn’t take a certification to figure out how to do a good looking one for cheaper than a licensed beautician. What using a licensed hairstylist does give you is the peace of mind of knowing that part of their education was not only how to do it right but the many ways it can be done wrong, what happens with a poorly executed process, and how to avoid damage. Cheap weaves from non-professionals can end up costing you a lot more than money you saved.
3. Remove the weave and unbraid your hair if there is pain and excessive itching. “Beauty is pain” might apply to stilettos but it DOES NOT apply to weaves. It is not supposed to hurt and if the pain and itching persist it’s time to see your doctor to ensure that the dirt and bacteria that can enter the scratches and wounds caused by a weave pulling on your hair have not become infected. A prescription can treat a fungal or bacterial infection that left otherwise untreated will destroy hair follicles and can lead to permanent and wide spread hair loss.
4. Make sure your scalp can breathe. Braids done too tight, hair closures sewn in improperly and tracks sewn in with the thread pulling two braids together (making pockets where your scalp can not breathe) can create a major problem. Moisture from sweating and washing without being able to properly shampoo your scalp can get trapped and nasty things grow in moist environments. Mold, fungus, and bacteria love these types of environments and flourish there in the weeks and months a weave is in place. Ensure that the tracks are sewn on in a way that lets you clean your scalp and lets it dry when you wash your hair.
5. Leave out the weaker, short, and baby hairs around your hairline if you are getting a full sew in. Forcing these, the weakest and newest of your natural hair, into the tight foundation braids when it is not necessary will only add to the damage that can be caused by this weaving method. Additionally, do not use excessive heat or styling products on these areas to match the hair sewn in when they are left out for blending and natural looking hairlines. Best to try to get as close to your texture as possible when picking the hair you will sew in.
Following these handful of tips can help you have the beautiful style you purchased without paying with damaged hair and scalp.