Featured above are a few photos of me rockin a whole helluva lot of a weave years ago for an 8 page editorial spread for Vibe Vixen Magazine. Yes ladies, I am no stranger to the word WEAVE. Out of the past five years I have been natural the first three of those years I wore a weave. Not only was the weave for aesthetics but to ease the shock and stress of losing 3 years of natural growth all in one night from a self-applied texturizer gone horribly wrong. This would be the last time I would ever place a chemical on my hair.
After having long hair for most of my life to suddenly standing in front of the mirror with an inch of hair in length was quite an impact of a mac truck adjustment to make. To be honest when I look back now it wasn’t the new length that caused me to be in shock but the fact that I was natural for 3 years before with no plans to use a chemical in my lifetime, until the remark of a friend who suggested I use a kiddie texturizer to decrease the density of my hair because in her eyes it was just too much, and this in return as she continued her assessment would add ease to the management of my hair. Needless to say I took her advice and not only did the kiddie relaxer decrease my density but most of my hair as well. When I look back now, I know exactly why I heeded this friend’s advice…because I had not found a regimen that worked well for me. Even though I had been natural for 3 years I did not know how to truly care for my 4b-c strands.
The thought of wearing a weave was not a new concept. Years before I had worn weaves during my modeling career to help repair the unhealthy hair care practices, turmoil and constant weekly usage of heat my hair was exposed to while I was in the industry. I never knew how much my hair would flourish until I actually wore a weave and saw the results for myself but the fact that my hair flourished was not a mystery. Most of the fruitful results had to do with low manipulation of wearing weaves weeks and weeks at a time consistently for about two years but as much as my hair flourished I suffered some serious drawbacks such as temporary traction alopecia, scabbing and irritation, dandruff and extreme dryness which eventually led to breakage due to the neglect of my natural hair underneath of the weaves.
Fast forward years later, I was now standing in front of the mirror with my unconsented hair loss about to embark on the weave trail once again but this time the idea of wearing a weave was a lot less frightening, now that I knew all the pitfalls to avoid of wearing a weave the second go around. This time the results proved very beneficial.
Many naturals wear weaves for many different reasons but whatever yours may be I will not let my mistakes be your downfall. I am going to share the pros, cons and successful tips that will produce the most fruitful results for your natural tresses while wearing a weave.
Less Manipulation: This is one of the ultimate pros of wearing a weave. Manipulation of your natural tresses is drastically reduced which can guarantee retaining more length.
Easier Transitioning: Though short hair is extremely beautiful and sexy as hell. For women who do not consider transitioning as an option, the Big Chop can be a scary plunge if one prefers longer lengths or is use to a certain look. True confidence comes from within but a weave can provide an easier transitioning period for a woman who may be debating on eliminating straightening chemicals and going through with the Big Chop.
More Time Management: Unlike myself, let’s face it, not everyone is completely satisfied with only manipulating their hair once a week. Many naturals want more variety during the week concerning hairstyles. Weaves can provide constant manipulation without the stress on your tresses. Weaves also provide a great option for a highly active lifestyle.
Assists in Patience of Growth: Weaves can assist in patience of growing your natural hair since your focus is taken away because daily contact with your natural hair is now eliminated which can control your urges in grabbing that measuring tape every 5 seconds to progress new growth.
Protection from the Elements: Your weave has now become the cloak of protection for your hair, automatically resistant from harsh elements such as weather, too much sun exposure, and materials from clothing that can cause friction to natural strands. If wearing 100% human hair you now have the freedom to use heat based appliances without fear of damage to your natural strands.
Change: Cut and color with ease. Experimenting with color and cut while wearing a weave is a safe and easy way to play around with different looks.
Temporary or Permanent Traction Alopecia: This is not to be taken lightly. Traction Alopecia is a form of alopecia or moderate hair loss caused by a self -induced pulling force or action usually caused by too tight braids, twists or styles, pony tails, weaves and extensions. Traction Alopecia is one of the most common examples of hair lost among African American women.
Hair Care Neglect: Neglecting of natural hair especially washing while sporting a weave can be a very easy mistake to make since your focus is on hair that is not your own. Extreme dryness of hair and scalp is one of the biggest and most common factors of natural hair while wearing a weave which can lead to breakage. Also lack of weave maintenance can cause odor and molding due to lack of regular air circulation and moisture that will accumulate within the weave creating an easier playground for fungus to grow and induce excessive shedding.
Constant upkeep: Even though I previously mentioned less manipulation with your natural hair as a pro while wearing a weave, there is a flipside of that coin in the constant upkeep of the weave itself. Since your hair is constantly growing about ½ an inch a month, weaves require consistent maintenance. Too much tension on new growth increases your chances of traction alopecia. Professionals suggest no more then 6-12 weeks. I followed a consistent schedule of every 8 weeks.
Budget: To put it in lament terms, weaves ain’t cheap! Unless you know how to apply your own weave, constant upkeep means constant expenses. If you are thinking about a weave calculate the figures for a year and see if it is an investment you are able to afford, if not this can cause problems with upkeep that in the future could cause irreparable damage to your natural hair.
Tips to Wearing a Weave Successfully
Bulk: Watching the amount or bulk of wefts you place on your strands will save you a world of headache in the prevention of unnecessary hair loss. The bulk of the weave should never feel heavy or weighed down. The amount of tracks you invest in vary for each individual and should be based on the health, density, individual strand size and porosity of your hair.
Quality of Track: If your feel persistent irritations to your scalp from the track of the wefts do not simply push this matter to the side. The irritation could be caused by the materials used for the track to hold the weft in tack. This is especially the case with tracks that are hard and stiff to touch. Look for tracks that are more pliable and softer. Constant irritation can cause scabbing and perhaps scarring where hair loss could be permanent.
Take Notice of Material: If you are wearing synthetic hair make sure you take all the necessary precautions in caring for synthetic hair such as no heat. 100% human hair allows you mobility with heat based appliances.
The Right Hair Stylist: Finding the right hair stylist for weave wearers is the Willy Wonka golden ticket! The key to ensure you have found a natural hair expert stylist who knows how to correctly put in a weave is ask to see a client who is natural and has had weaves done by your selected stylist. Yes this may involve your homework but there is nothing like the reassurance of finding a stylist who knows what they are doing. You better believe a stylist who does good work will not have a problem with this request!
Glue VS Thread: I would never recommend glue to anchor down you weft. Let me stress this again, I WOULD NEVER RECOMMEND GLUE TO ANCHOR DOWN YOUR WEFT. Glue should never be an option to hold the track to your natural hair unless you are not concerned with hair loss or permanent traction alopecia.
Proper Combing Technique: Just because the hair is not growing from your scalp you still want to use proper combing techniques when combing your weave. Start from the ends and work your way to the root of the track. This will add longevity and decrease the amount of shedding of the weave due to less stress by combing your way up towards the track.
Free & Loose: Another advantage to wearing weaves is styling your hair free and loose without concern of protective styles. When styling your weaved hair in updos, braids, twists and ponytails pay attention to the amount of stress your style creates. Too much force or action when creating a style can cause unnecessary stress to the track which will pull at the roots of your natural hair which could lead to hair loss. Opt for looser weaved updos and styles that do not create stress to the track.
Product Usage: Weaves need love to! Do not cop out on your favorite products while wearing a weave. Especially with human hair which is still susceptible to dryness.
Vinegar, Tea Tree and Grapefruit Seed Oil: Due to lack of air circulation while wearing a weave this creates a moist environment which is more susceptible to create a breeding ground for bacteria such as mold. Vinegar, Tea tree or Grapefruit seed oil are natural mold killing agents. The application of these oils on your scalp while wearing a weave can reduce or deter molding issues immediately. Vinegar oil may have a very offensive or foul smell but undiluted it can kill mold in a few hours.
Choose a Curl Pattern closest to your own Texture: This applies only if you are wearing the crown of your natural hair out or extensions. Choosing a weave or extensions that are closest to your hair pattern will drastically decrease constant manipulation in trying to imitate the curl pattern of the weave with your own natural hair.
Wrap it Up: Wearing a weave does allow you the option to sleep without a satin pillowcase or scarf but from personal experience I would suggest not opting out on these hair care lifesavers. Satin pillowcases and scarfs can add longevity to your weave and bank account.
Set a Time Limit or Give the Weave a Break: If you are planning to rock your hair au natural or just care for the health of your hair give the weave a break! The weave is not the All Mighty, it can only do so much and constant weaving despite taking all the necessary precautions still adds stress to your hair, which means years down the line you could be dealing with some sort of hair loss. Wigs are a great option to rid the stress that weaves create.
Overall I have experienced the worse and the best results while wearing a weave. Like anything in life it is what you make it and by all means a weave can produce results that are beneficial to your natural hair as long as you take the precautionary steps.