Friday, September 24, 2010

Wearing a Sew-In Weave As a Protective Style? Here's What You Need To Know!

A lot of people have asked me to chime in on my feelings about wearing a sew-in weave as a protective style, so I decided to address the question via blog post.

Is it possible to retain length using a sew-in as a protective style? The answer is yes, and only under conditions in which you are very diligent when it comes to caring for your hair. Most breakage and horror stories stems from stylists who don't know the proper amount of tension when it comes to cornrowing hair for the install. As a result, you are left with hair that is thin, see-through, fragile and in desperate need of a major haircut.

Other horror stories are as a result of women installing sew-ins on hair that is too weak to withstand any amount of stress for long periods of time. If you are suffering from severe breakage due to relaxers, or color services, I wouldn't recommend a sew-in install [or anything that places tension on the hair for an extended duration]. A sew-in will only further exasperate your issues leaving you with hair more damaged after the install than it was before.

Finally; you will experience damage if you neglect to follow a regular maintenance routine. The amount of damage varies from breakage in areas that are more prone to damage, to complete hair loss in others. 

You can wear sew-ins successfully if:
  • The braids are firm but not tight
  • You use human hair instead of synthetic
  • Use silk thread in lieu of cotton
  • Use a protein treatment before and after each install
  • Shampoo hair regularly
  • Moisturize regularly
  • Leave hair out around hairline, or opt for small individuals
Find a gentle stylist: For those out there that decide on a sew-in, make sure the braids aren't too

tight. Most major damage from extensions stems from hair loss due to stressed follicles. Hair loss can occur after one visit, or several depending on the stylist.
  • If you get a sew-in and you see white bumps along your hairline, or your scalp is "raised and gathered" along parts of your scalp; the install is too tight.
Use silk thread: Although any stress over a period of time can have adverse reactions to your strands, silk thread can lessen the chances of damage. Most thread used for sew-in extensions is comprised of cotton. The friction from the cotton rubbing your tresses can cause breakage as well as split ends. Silk is a much better fiber to use, albeit a little more expensive.

Regular protein treatments are key: Stress from braiding and the tension from the thread sewn around the braids can make for a weakened shaft structure. It is imperative to maintain regular protein treatments to strengthen the hair and prevent excess breakage. How often you decide to use a protein treatment depends on the condition of your hair, and the amount of time spent wearing a weave. I recommend protein treatments before and after each install [provided you go at least 6-8 weeks between installs].

Leave out the hair around your hairline: It may not be the most popular choice, however you can save your hair from thinning and breakage around the hairline. Opt for curly hair instead of straight so that you can blend your hair seamlessly with the extensions. Choosing curly hair will also mean less heat from thermal styling as well.

Don't want to leave your hairline out? Try small individuals along the hairline and nape area. Individuals are less stress on the hairline versus cornrows; which makes them a great hassle-free option.
  • If you use this method of individuals along the hairline and nape; it is recommend that you re-braid the individuals every 2 weeks to prevent knotting at the root.
Use human hair: Synthetic hair has a tendency to cause breakage due to the texture of the fibers. To alleviate damage from friction, choose human hair in lieu of synthetic.
Keep hair clean: Hair that is compacted on to your scalp is a breeding ground for bacteria, dead skin, and excess sebum. If left untreated, hair loss and thinning can occur. Shampoo hair [focusing on your scalp once a week] once a week to keep your scalp clean and able to absorb moisture.
  • Fill an applicator bottle with shampoo water & 1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar. Squirt this mixture in between your cornrows, and slightly massage area to remove buildup. Rinse well, braid in four large sections, and allow to dry thoroughly. 
Moisturize religiously:  Hair that is dry is more prone to breakage. Moisturizing your hair while wearing extensions is an essential part of maintaining a healthy hair regimen.
  • Fill an applicator bottle with your favorite moisturizer or a bit of leave-in conditioner diluted with water. Apply mixture to scalp every other day.
    If you follow the methods outlined above: You should be able to leave your install in for up to 3 months. It is recommended that you take 1-2 month breaks in between installs to allow your hair and scalp the chance to breathe and recuperate.

    Here are some products to get to know if you plan on wearing a sew-in:
    [1] Jane Carter's Scalp Renew: An amazing product that helps maintain a healthy scalp and remedy all issues related to inflammation.- [Use every other day after moisturizing]
    [2] Keracare Gentle Cleansing Shampoo For Wigs & Extensions

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    1. Excellent post, Nikole :) Thank you.

    2. Thank you so much for this article. I have been thinking about getting a sew in and these are wonderful tips. I love your blog!

    3. What a great photo. I just did a post on bows. You should check it out.

    4. Good to know. I never really thought a sew in could do that much damage. Thanks.

    5. great tips! I never thought that doing a sew in on your own would work, but this step by step is great!

    6. This is great. I have never had a sew-in but I'm glad that should I decide to try it, this is the way to go. I have some questions though:

      Is silk thread available in the usual beauty supply store? I was also wondering what you mean by individuals to reduce stress on the hairline. Do you mean microbraids? A picture of one of these styles would help someone like me who is clueless.

      On cornrows, I think that if they are not done tightly, they are protective for the hairline. Leave the baby hairs out to avoid bumpy skin and if extension hair is used, feed it in after the cornrow has already been started.

      You have a lovely blog. Keep it up!


    7. great tips! i just got a sew in the other day as a protective style...

    8. wow. thank you for this post. i have been contemplating putting in crochet braids for a while as my nxt transition style. this was really helpful.

    9. omg this post is right on time i just got a sew in thanks so much for the tips!

    10. Great post! I wore sew-ins and wigs as protective styles after I big chopped in 2007. I was diligent with caring for my hair and always had downtime between styles. My hair grew past shoulder length because of the weaves.

    11. LOL, cool post. I like the term 'protective styling'

    12. great post. found and followed you through BlogLovin. hope to see you soon.

    13. Nikole, Please where can I get silk thread?

    14. @ anonymous I looked EVERYHWHERE and finally found satin thread at AC Moore, Micheals may have them too. I live in SC so those are the names of our big craft stores. hope this helps

    15. i have one question, do put oils on your scalp daily as well with a sewn in?

    16. I decided that I'm going to wear protective styles through the winter months so I came directly to your site for tips.

      I have a curly sew-in. I do have the edges out and twisted in the back. The only difficult part is trying to figure out how to wash it. With past sew-in's I noticed that after I tried to wash my hair with the sew-in, my scalp would start to itch like crazy!

      I'll have to figure out a better way to keep my hair clean underneath...


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