The Weave Manual| Maintaining Your Hair and Weave While Protective Styling

by West Parsons on April 3, 2012 · 20 comments

in weave

Ediese is a member on Long Hair Care Forum whose natural weaves sparked my infatuation with weaves to begin with.  She grew her hair from big chop to waist length while wearing weaves over a period of about 4 years (check out her Fotki Album).  I would say she is an aficionado of weave maintenance, so her advice is probably a bit more valuable than the typical person who wears weaves. Here are a few tips she’s compiled.

1. After you take out your sew-in, DO NOT WASH YOUR HAIR before you properly detangle and get out ALL shed hair. (Trust me, you will have a MAJOR setback if you do not listen to that one rule). I learned the hard way. My cousin advised me against it, and I told her that I have that ‘good’ hair, so my hair will surely not tangle. Well let me tell you…as soon as water hit my hair, it formed locs and got really matted. I had to chop out huge chunks of hair.

2. Do not let the stylist braid your hair or sew in the weave too tight. You’ll know because aside from the major migraine that you’ll experience, you’ll see a lot of white bulbs on the tip of many strands along your hairline. This means that hair has been pulled out because of the tension. Also, tiny bumps will form in the back of your head. Silly me…I already know this, but I’m suffering from this right now.  I need to listen to my own advice. I have two months to nurture my hairline.

3. It is not recommended that you wear your install for more than three months. I wore an install for four months this year, and thankfully I took it out when it first started to matt up, so I didn’t lose any hair. The longer your leave the install coupled with the frequent washing + airdrying, shed hair, etc. will cause your hair to matt up over time.

4. Do not trust just ANYONE to take out your install. I always take out my installs by myself. I can’t say that I don’t trust her, but I don’t even let my sister take it out. This way, if I happen to mistakenly cut my hair…oh well…at least I was the one that did it. Also, I’m much more patient, and can afford to take the extra 2+ hours to carefully take it down. I doubt a stylist will be that careful.

5. If you are planning to leave your install in for three months, you might want to rethink frequent washing and co-washing. I usually wash once per week, but sometimes I change it up to once every two weeks. Again, frequent washing and air drying, product buildup, etc, might cause your hair to get matted..eer on the side of caution. (this is especially true for those with natural hair)

6. If you are getting a full sew-in with no hair left out, ask your stylist not to braid the baby hairs or the really short strands around your hairline. Trust me..this is the first time that I’ve had a full head sew-in with everything braided, and my hairline is missing. She braided every strand, and now I”m having to baby that area.

7. It is normal for you to see lots of hair in your comb after you take out your sew-in. Remember, you did have your hair braided for x time, and what you’re seeing is most likely shed hair.

8. Try to do a protein treatment prior to the sew-in, and when you take it down. This helps to strengthen your hair.

9. It’s also recommended that you at least wait 1-2 weeks before you reinstall another sew-in. This gives you an opportunity to give your real hair that much needed TLC.

10. Have fun with your weave! Remember there are so many different styles that you can achieve with a weave without damaging your real hair. Do you want some blonde highlights, a curly or wet n’ wavy look, or perhaps a pixie cut? Go ahead, and weave it up! might want to stick with something that will look more natural though. If you’re 4a or 4b, you might want to stay about from silky straight hair.

11. Oh yeah…please stop patting your weave in public! If you haven’t noticed, the whole weave moves like it’s a wig.

12. If you’re relaxed, this is a good way to stretch your relaxers. You don’t have to keep relaxing your entire head when you take down an install. If it’s going to be braided up anyway, what’s the point?

MORE: Maintenance of West’s Kinky Curly Weave

13. Do NOT use hair glue unless you want to be permanently bald, hair glue is a no no. (tip from Ms. Devo) If you’re not interested in getting a sew-in weave, please try out the clip in extensions before getting a bonded weave. If you still go ahead and get bonded weave, please take all necessary steps in taking it out so you don’t lose hair in the process.

14. Tips on washing hair while you have a weave:
I picked up this great tip from someone on BHM. Put your shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner in separate water/applicator bottles. Dilute it with water, and pour it over your head so it reaches your braids. Gently massage your scalp, and rinse thoroughly. This works great!

15. This is the regimen that I follow when I have my sew-in. Remember I switch it up, and sometimes only wash every two weeks.
Wash 1x week with Creme of Nature (white bottle with green cap)
Condition w/ Mane N Tail
DC 1x week Pantene Pro V relaxed and natural dc mask (really good slip)
Leave in conditioner – Infusium 23
Moisturize every day by spraying a glyercin and water mix to by braids and to the hair that’s left out. I also seal the ends of the hair that’s left out with castor oil.
Clarify 1x month w/Suave clarifying shampoo


enah August 6, 2012 at 11:17 pm

at point number 2, when you say the bulb is at the end of the hair does that mean the hair will not grow back if the hair falls off with the long whte bulb at the end? i recently got a sew in and my hair was so tight. 2 days later i went to have her loosen up my hairline. however i feel a rough spot on my edges and when i pull at the strand (gently) the hair comes out with white long bulbs at the end. im afraid that this is permanent hair loss and my hair will not grow back.

westNDNbeauty August 7, 2012 at 7:29 am

When the bulb is at the root of the strand it could be as a result of natural shedding or tension being put on the area. When hair is constantly being pulled out because of tension you are at risk for balding in that area. Careful of how often you wear tight weaves and what is going on with you scalp as you wear them.

Dee September 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm

So for braided weave I usually just wash the weave and the hair that’s left out or the new growth then after i dc i mean ._. i don’t think u can dc fake hair lol. And also i moisturize with olive oil & seal, is that fine? and is it okay to co wash ur hair before the day ur braided weave is due.

rasheda September 15, 2012 at 2:24 pm

hey im west indian too AWESOME 🙂 lol…. i put in a sew in with the front left out on august 11 for my best friends wedding…now today on my bday i took it out…. i wanna relax it like RITE NOW lol but i’m not sure if its safe…. fyi: i haven’t permed my hair since my bday last yr i’ ve been getting wash set n blowouts but im tired of the constant extra (my hair holds heat so u kno that’s torture lol)…… there’s a lot of new growth…. what should i do?

michelle September 19, 2012 at 11:42 pm

I’ve notice the patting makes your weave look like a wig, its a epidemic in Miami, these girls pat their life depends on it lol. Also I’m a weave lover and I started an online store please take a look and tell me what you think thanks

zeatha October 12, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I’ve heard it’s not good to pat your head because you lose more brain cells.

mica October 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm

when i would get my sew in done. i would wash my hair as normal but my braids would always get frizzy. is there a way u can prevent this?

Gail November 27, 2012 at 4:56 am

Why is product build up an issue in a small amount of time like 2 months if you’re clarifying once a month? Also, is there a way, besides trial and error, to know when you should remove your weave? ie: signs to look for. My braids were put in very tight (I didn’t see any white bulbs) edges braided and all into a full sew-in and I have enough new growth to pull up the braids nearly an inch. I wash and deep condition weekly. I’m at the one month mark now and I’m trying to plan ahead for the end of month two. Thank you in advance.

Shan March 16, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Correct me if I am wrong…I believe she was saying that the product build up refers to the build up in the crevacies in your braids of your weave foundation.. while clarifiying shampoo refers to the weave

westNDNbeauty March 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Shan, I think she is referring to the hair which grows from your scalp for both.

Deja July 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm

How many days before you get a sew in can you do a protein treatment? Is it okay to do it the day before you install when you wash it?

westNDNbeauty July 23, 2013 at 9:27 am

Hi Deja! I don’t see an issue with doing a protein treatment in the same day. The trick with protein treatments is you also should follow up with a moisturizing DC immediately after. Also make sure your hair is moisturized well immediately before the install.

Deja July 23, 2013 at 10:20 am

Thank you ! 🙂

Deja July 23, 2013 at 10:47 am

What do you suggest I use to mosturize my hair (scalp) before my sew in that is not too heavy? Because I know that heavy products make it hard for the stylist to braid the hair.

westNDNbeauty July 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Hi Deja, I would suggest selecting a product that you already have in rotation that works well for your hair and seal with one thing like castor oil.

Barbara September 12, 2013 at 10:38 pm

What type of hair does she use? In the picture with white tank in car. That curl pattern is what I would like.
Please email me back. Thanks

Kat October 16, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Omg this has helped so much. I got a sew in the end of September and was trying to break my record of keeping a sew in longer cus the last one I had it only lasted a month I missed my hair. The hair stylist braided around the edges to tight and some hair was pulled from the follicles I’m natural now and I have forgotten how fast my hair mats up like when I was younger it’s only the middle of October abd I’m trying to take it out oh well gotta take care if my hair first.

Tosha November 7, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Hi Barbara I’m tosha, I also love that curl pattern. Did you find out where she got it from? If so can you let me know pls. My emal is thanks

Mary September 26, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Informative and helpful article. Thanks for the tips and for posting this. Have a great day! 🙂

Daysha July 11, 2015 at 10:15 pm

I’m wondering if it makes sense to get box braids during that 1-2 weeks before i reinstall? It’s just because my hair is probably going to come out as an afro, and i’m most likely going to damage it during that period. Plus, I don’t want to cut it.