Wearing a weave has many benefits. It saves time and manipulation of hair. By its covered structure it can fall under protective styling. Weave know how from correct installation, maintenance and takedown can ensure it is a protective style. A correctly installed weave can really add to ones appearance. So why are weaves constantly in the spotlight for the wrong reasons?
Have your weave installed by someone who knows what to do and what not to do. Unless you are sure your installer is skilled go to a salon.
The balance of your scalp
A weave is not a replacement for your natural hair. It has to go on and it has to come off. Cleansing your scalp whether dry, oily or even normal is essential. Not cleaning your scalp for an extended period of time will create an imbalance that will cause problems for your skin and hair.
The tracks should not be too tight. Insist that your braider uses the right amount of tension. Excessive pull during braiding will result in too much tension on your own hair and can lead to a variety of hair and scalp issues. Causing: irritation, inflammation and pustules (pimples) that are related to traction alopecia. If you feel an intense burn, itching, pulling sensation or headache after installing tracks they are too tight. Ensure your braider is clear on your needs and if tracks are too tight redo them. She may not be happy but would you rather irritate your braider or lose your hair?
The weight of the weave
Weaves can be much heavier than a regular head of hair, particularly if you prefer wearing a longer weave. Choose the right amount of bundles for your face but be mindful of the added weight. The weight of the weave has two impacts: If you wash the weave on your head it becomes much heavier once it is submerged in water. Weight means more pulling. Best practice is to remove the weave and wash it and your own hair separately.
If you are sewing a weave always use a blunt needle. Sharp needles can damage your hair. Do not sew into the seam- this can cause shedding. Instead go over and under to attach it.
Glue is a contentious issue for me. Often the chemicals in the glue can have irritating effects. Plus the chemicals used for the removals inevitably end up on your hair and skin. Be careful with these. Check what is being used. Read about the effects of both the adhesives and the removers.
You may not like the next suggestion and while it may be more expensive, you have to take down a weave at least every month.
Every month your natural hair grows slightly. The tracks will shift and the weave becomes progressively mobile. Here’s the problem- this causes your hair to hang slightly and creates greater pull. Weaves are often much heavier than the hair on your head. The weight of the weave may seem insignificant but it can cause a significant pull in a mobile state if left too long. The top of the weave (the sewed line) does not have the smoothest surface. It can cause friction that can break your hair if the stitching loosens. Maintain loose parts of your weave ASAP or it will damage your hair. Loose tracks or tracks with growth also makes your weave uneven-it looks a lot less symmetrical and takes away from a neat look.
Weaves can have side effects of dry/flaky scalp or oil build-up. This is not an easy problem to solve. The quick response is to oil your scalp. Oil does not stay fresh forever. Oil left in the heat of the sun will become rancid (spoil). Oil left on your scalp for weeks can clog your pores. Add to this the sweating, products, dust and lint floating around, moisture from a bath or shower and you have a recipe for disaster.
Remember that every part of your body has hair follicles and pores. While oil is great for hair, frequent scalp oiling without cleansing is not a good idea. You would not apply oil on your face every day without washing it off, why would you do it to your hair? Apply the oil to your hair. Leave your scalp clean to breath and let the hair grow. Oils are better as pre-poo and wash off treatments. Apply it to your hair before you weave and use sparingly while wearing a weave and consider a water- based moisturizer instead of oil under a weave.
Anytime your hair is put under tension it will itch. Do not scratch your scalp with your nails or a sharp pin. Hands are the constantly exposed to bacteria. Nails can trap bacteria and transfer it to your scalp and cause problems. Sharp pins can break your skin and cause infections. Steer clear of these two things. Pat it if you must!
If you are using a lace front weave be careful of the chemicals used to attach your weave to your skin as these can have irritating effects. Never ever reinstall a weave if you notice skin problems during removal. Check your scalp before re-installing a weave to make sure you don’t have any reactions.
A partial weave often requires some of your hair to be relaxed and left out. This hair then also needs to be frequently styled to blend into the weave. Typically this is the front section of the hair taking constant chemical, manipulation and or heat that can end up damaging this section of hair. Instead consider a full weave without leaving any hair out.
If you are using foundation to blend the parting in the weave do it lightly and before installation to prevent old product sitting on your scalp. Use only small amounts to touch up when needed. You would not leave foundation on your face for more than a day so why would you do it on your hair? That product will sit there and go rancid potentially blocking your pores and or causing skin issues.
I have come across strange things used to mask hairline issues. Mascara, powders and even shoe polish. Do not apply these things to your skin. They were not made for this purpose. There are actual products on the market made for this reason. Look for one of these instead. A brown mat eye shadow or face powder will work well but should not be left on your skin or hair for more than one day.
When combing your weave be gentle. Start detangling at the ends and work your way up to minimize shedding.
Carefully separate your own hair before washing. Anytime your hair has been constricted for more than a week the dead hairs, fluff and oils have mixed and can cause massive tangles. Carefully detangle your hair with your fingers. Remove any fluff and knots before you wash your hair. Always follow this with a conditioner and a deep treatment. Conditioners and treatments help to restore moisture that helps curb breakage.
Do wash your weave with a shampoo and a conditioner. It will help keep it in good shape to reuse. Do dry the weave completely before reinstalling it. Wet hair can cause significantly more tension on your own hair than dry hair. Wet hair is also a good breeding ground for nasty bacteria.
Finally, if your edges are receding (breaking) consider an alternative to a weave. A wig and clip on hair extensions are good alternatives. Inspect your hair and scalp at the takedown phase to see if there are any issues. Only re-install a weave if you are sure your scalp and hair are able to handle it.
A special mention to my Friend Sbahle- A weave veteran who shared her best practices.
Love your hair