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A Beginners Guide to Hair Extensions and Weaves

A complete 18-inch remy (real human hair) extension weave.

A complete 18-inch remy (real human hair) extension weave.

Everything You Need to Know About Extensions and Weaves

So you're interested in getting a weave? Welcome to your one-stop-shop for information about weaves and extensions.

First off, lets establish what weaves are. Weaves are synthetic (fake) or remy (real human) hair extensions that can be added to your own hair with different methods to add length or volume. They are supposed to look natural, so they can be expensive. Both the attachment method and the hair are supposed to help the weave look like your own. So let's dive into this topic head-first!

A packet of 10-inch premium straight hair ready for a weave.

A packet of 10-inch premium straight hair ready for a weave.

Frequently Used Terms in Hair Weaving

As weaves become more popular, they have developed their own slang or abbreviations for common terms. To catch you up, let's go over the four major terms that are used. It is necessary to know what these terms mean because they often come up in the process of buying hair.

  • Virgin Hair: This is hair that is cut with the cuticle going in the same direction and in its natural state. No chemicals have been added to it whatsoever. This type of hair can come from any race and is usually more expensive because of the time it takes to grow and because it is found in lesser abundance.
  • Remy or Remi: This is human hair that is cut with the cuticle going in the same direction, but the hair has some chemicals in it. This could mean it has been permed or colored.
  • Weft: This hair is held together with fine threads. This can be done with a machine or by hand. Although machine wefts are more popular (and cheaper), hand wefts are more desirable because they are more natural-looking and durable.
  • Pre-Bonded Extensions: This hair is connected in tresses with a bonding agent, the most common of which is keratin. There are two types of pre-bonded extensions: U-tipped and I-tipped. U-tipped uses heat when applied while I-tipped uses special devices that don't require heat.

Reasons You Should Consider a Weave

  1. The variety. Weaves come in all different shades and lengths. Also, the hair comes from donors of many different races and ethnicities. Can you instantly grow Indian, European, Brazilian, etc. hair? I didn't think so.
  2. It's quick and easy. Imagine how long it would take for you to grow your own hair to the length that you want. Now, imagine going to your trusted stylist, sitting in a chair for a few hours or less, and walking out with the length of hair you've always desired. Your choice.
  3. It's durable. It is very possible to keep your weave in for up to three months, depending upon how well you maintain it. Your weave can still look just as fabulous three months after you got it.
  4. No heat damage. Give your natural hair a break from blow-drying, straightening, and curling. Your hair sees a lot of heat from styling. Give it a rest without sacrificing your good looks.
  5. You want a big change fast. You've been dying to have long hair and you just don't feel like waiting to grow it out. Do what makes you happy.

The Down Sides

Some things to consider before getting a weave:

  • Getting a weave pulls on your scalp.
  • Getting weaves too often can make your natural hair fall out.
  • Having extensions in your hair all the time can damage your natural hair long-term and even lead to premature balding.
  • Yes, this does happen, but it is rare. Who wants their hair to fall out? But think about this: If you grew your hair out, cut it in different styles all the time, dyed and permed it, your hair would still fall out. Don't let the negatives scare you away. Just like everything else in life, weaves are best in moderation. My suggestion is to wait 1-3 months after your previous weave to get a new one. During this period you should wash and condition your hair regularly and try to avoid heat as much as possible.
A net weave bonding, or glue-in, near completion.

A net weave bonding, or glue-in, near completion.

Methods of Attaching Weaves

In this section, we'll talk about the different methods of hair weaving. Look for videos below of how each method is done so that you can visually see the process. This should make your choice a little easier.

  • Sew-in: The hair is braided with a needle and thread. The weft of hair is literally sewed onto the head with a braid. It sounds confusing but it really isn't. Depending on how sensitive you are and how tight your braids are, this can hurt or it can feel like nothing. If this is your first time having your hair braided, the braids may seem a little tight, which causes pressure. If this happens to you, tell your stylist. It's better to have the problem fixed immediately rather than having to take it all out. The needle, by the way, does not come near nor puncture the skin.
  • Net weave sew-in: This is the same as the regular sew-in method except a net is sewn over the braids. Net weaves relieve tension and allow the hair to not swell as much after shampooing. The downside is that you will be less able to care for your real hair, as the net gets in the way. If you have normally thick hair, get the regular sew-in. But if you have thinner hair, a net weave sew-In may be in the cards for you as it also adds more coverage.
  • Hair bonding (or glue-in): The natural hair is sectioned and the weave is attached to the hair, near the scalp, with glue. This method usually damages the hair and people are often allergic to the glue. Nonetheless, this method can last up to 2 months when well maintained.
  • Fusion: The natural hair is sectioned and attached strand-by-strand using wax. Fusions usually last 3-6 months and are the most expensive method. With fusions, the bonds are not visible unless you are looking for them. This is the most natural-looking weave.

Beginners Tip: Try the regular sew-in or net weave sew-in method first.

Choosing Hair and a Stylist

Now that you know everything about the world of weaves, there's nothing left to do but choose the hair and find a stylist. Of course, I am not going to leave you on your own to carry out this task!

  1. Assess your own hair. What color is it? What's the texture? This will all come in to play when choosing your hair.
  2. What do you want? How long do you want your weave to be? Do you want a two-tone weave? You can't choose the right hair for yourself unless you know what you want. Along with color and length, you should know what kind of hair you want. Hair comes from all different types of ethnicities.
  3. Don't be scared. Try new things and styles! Your hair is a medium for expressing yourself. Also, don't be scared to buy from online vendors. They have the best hair, but look out for scams.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Tanya on March 25, 2018:

Do i start at the nape with the shortest bundle or the longest? Thank you

Connie on August 23, 2017:

I want a weave but my hair in the front is thin what should I get?

Meme on August 16, 2017:

How does one decided where to put what inches . I have 18,20,20,22 . which do I use first and where? Shortest on top front or bottom back ?

Faith on December 26, 2016:

With thyroid disease can you still get hair extensions my hair can get thin but not horrible also if you dyed your natural hair can you still get a sew in????

Wendy on November 04, 2016:

Thank you for your information ! It was very informative and now I understand what my daughters want to have done with their hair. Now I can say yes to a Net Weave.

Sarah on October 23, 2015:

Great reasons and info here. I've tried and can recommend sewn in hair extensions, just find someone who know what they are doing.

Wanda Koterba on February 19, 2015:

Sorry about my original post. My question is what is a good rule of thumb for weaving short hair.

Sharonseymour on June 27, 2014:

I would like to get some hair

gail benjamin on April 18, 2014:

wow this is the one on January 12, 2014:

Hello ,

İ find you when i look hair extentions tools on the internet.i do hair extention in turkey .i used keratin glue grain lasted 4-6 months.but the other one lasted only 15 days.the hair breaks away from the connection places.can you help me to find this product .i want to buy real keratin glue grain.not chinice ..if you want to sell i can buy from you.or can you give me information about the place where i can buy real ceratine.i think you use the good keratine .the hair extention which you do looks succesfull.because of this , I trust you and i belive that you help me best regards..

Rachel on November 01, 2013:

hi Bella I am interested in getting supplies from you for sale in Africa. How can I get in touch ? Looking forward to hearing from you..

fabuloushairtoday on May 23, 2012:

All good reasons for getting a weave. Since cutting my hair short, I have not had a weave but I sure do miss getting them! :)

Amy on April 08, 2012:

this was great, i would get any of these. this was the info i needed.

AmberLey on March 15, 2012:

I loved this. It was exactly the kind of information I have been looking for ! I am considering getting sew ins, but I just don't want any damage to my hair at allll.

THE-QUEEN from new york on January 12, 2011:

Good hub very informative. You gave all good reasons " do what makes you happy". I agree.

Jordan Harris on September 14, 2010:

There's a lot of variety here. It's good information for anyone interested in different kinds of hair extensions.