A hair weave provides women with the ability to enjoy and style long hair even when their natural hair length is not suitable for doing so. Understanding what a hair weave is the first step in learning how you can use one to obtain the hairstyle you want.
What is a Hair Weave?
A hair weave is a hair extension that is attached to your own natural hair. Made of either natural or artificial hair, a weave can be glued, clipped, or sewn -- depending on your goals and the service offered by the hairstylist.
Hair weaves can trace their origins back about 5,000 years ago in Egypt. During those times, human hair or sheep's wool was dyed before being fixed to women's heads using beeswax or resin.
Hair weaves have been embraced by black women as a way of having a more permanent hairstyle option. Unlike a wig that covers the head and can be removed, a hair weave is attached directly to the women's natural hair.
Hair Weave Words to Know
Like other segments of the beauty industry, when talking about a hair weave, there are certain words that you'll want to know. The following list is not exhaustive, but it does provide you with a starting point:
- bundle: a collection of hair that usually is about three ounces. You can purchase a bundle separately or as a pack. A full weave generally requires between two and five bundles of hair.
- pack: a certain number of bundles is contained in a pack. This usually ranges from four to seven and includes hair that matches in both color and style.
- leave out: this is part of your natural hair that is left out to cover up the weave or braids. It's designed to look more natural.
- weft: extension bundles that are attached to a reinforced stitch. These are made when technicians sew the hair into a bundle.
- extension: usually taped or clipped to your own hair to provide length and/or volume.
- closure: weft hair that is circular and designed to cover your hair when you get a full weave. This is attached to a cornrow base.
- frontal: weft hair that usually covers the front of your hair to give you an ear-to-ear hairline.
- virgin: this refers to hair that is from only one donor and that has not been processed using chemicals. Another characteristic of virgin hair is that the cuticles need to run in the same direction and must all be intact.
Different Types of Weaves
The type of weave you choose depends on factors like the volume and length you want to achieve and how long you want it to last. The following types of weaves are some options you can choose from:
- interlocking: thin weft is sewn into your own hair.
- sewing: first your hair is cornrowed and then wefts are sewn into that braided hair.
- fusion: sections of your hair and strands of human hair are bonded together using keratin protein that matches the color of your natural hair.
- strand by strand: after your hair is divided into section, about an inch is braided before the extensions are wrapped in thread or sewn in securely.
- bonding: is using glue to attach wefts of hair close to your scalp on your hair shafts.
Human or Synthetic Hair: Which is Best for a Hair Weave?
For most people, virgin human hair is the best option for a natural-looking hair weave. Because it is hair from a human donor, it looks and feels soft with a texture that is similar to your own natural hair. Using human hair also makes it easier to match your own hair's coloring.
Another advantage of choosing human hair is that you can treat it just like you would your own hair. You can wash, blow dry and style it. You can even dye it and use a flat iron on it. When compared to synthetic hair, human hair is more expensive.
While synthetic hair isn't as heat tolerant as human hair, it does hold its style better. Even on days that are humid, hot and/or rainy, the style of synthetic hair will still look good.
Some newer types of synthetic hair allow you to use low-temperature heat. However, this type of hair is still more difficult to restyle when compared to human hair.
A hair weave fashioned using synthetic hair also tends to last for a shorter amount of time. You might discover that is gets tangled and matted more easily. Because it costs less than real human hair, though, you can purchase more of it.
Purchasing Hair for Your Hair Weave
If possible, book an appointment with the stylist who will be doing your hair weave and get their recommendation regarding the amount of hair you should purchase. In general, it's best to buy two packs of hair, though three might be necessary if you want a fuller look.
You can count on needing to purchase about three bundles of hair for most hair weaves. However, you might need four bundles if you want a hairstyle that is long and/or full. For short hair, a partial install, or a sleek look, two bundles might be sufficient.
Caring for Your Hair Weave
Expect your hair weave to last about two months with the proper care. During that time, have your weaves and tracks touched up according to the recommendations of your stylist. Usually, this means coming in every two to four weeks for a touch-up session.
On a daily basis, condition and moisture both your scalp and your weave. It's best to do so by using a light and natural oil. At least once each week, cleanse your weave to keep it looking fresh and natural.
A hair weave can be an excellent way to enjoy a brand-new hairstyle. By having a hair weave installed, your natural hair is longer and fuller. It can also be an opportunity for you to grow out a relaxer and/or provide your natural hair with a rest period.