How to make the most of a weave

Weaves have become a fashion staple, topping even shoes in some people’s glamour hierarchy. Essentially, weaves are hair extensions that can be applied either by sewing on, gluing on or bonding natural hair with the extensions. Weaves have become popular not only in South Africa, but also the world because of the options and hairstyle variations they offer. Celebrities from Naomi Campbell to Bonang Matheba have made weaves look good and so the trend has grown.

Weave hierarchy

Like most things, weaves have a hierarchy. There are two main categories – synthetic and human hair. Synthetic hair is manufactured hair and is the cheaper of the two options, says Ntokozo Mtshali, a Johannesburg-based hairstylist. ‘It can hold a style for longer but it can’t be heated or coloured and shouldn’t be worn for over two months because it starts looking like plastic,’ she says. Good quality synthetic weaves can look good and are the best option for people with limited budgets.

Human hair, which is real hair that is transplanted into someone else’s hair, is the best on the market. Imported from India, Peru and Brazil among other places, this hair is the most sought after and the most expensive. Because it is human hair, it doesn’t have the plastic look some weaves have and it can last for more than a year if taken care of adequately. ‘This type is the closest you can get to having your own hair,’ says Mtshali. ‘You can style it and dye it, but it’s best if you let a professional take care of it for you so that it lasts long.’

When looking to buy human hair, make sure that you get the real deal. Some manufacturers have been known to label the hair as human when it is in actual fact a mixture of human and synthetic hair.

Good hair is kept hair

Getting the right weave only forms the first half of a good look; maintenance is just as important. ‘One of the most common mistakes women make with their weaves is not getting them washed regularly enough. Go to a salon to get your weave washed ideally twice a month. Not only will it look better but you won’t have to worry about odour coming from your hair under the weave,’ says Mtshali.

It’s also important to avoid tangling, especially when you have synthetic hair. Combing your hair before bed and ensuring that you protect it with a sleep cap is essential. Once tangled, some weaves cannot be saved.

Mtshali warns that keeping your weave on for more than two months at a time can cause damage to your natural hair. ‘It’s important to remove your weave so that your natural hair can rest and breathe. Make sure you get a professional to remove your weave; amateur techniques can mean hair damage. Human hair weaves can be applied again but your natural hair also needs to be taken care of,’ she says.

Image: Felix Mizioznikov/

Other articles you may be interested in:
Trends in ethnic hair
Braids, weaves and relaxers
Summer proof ethnic hair
10 Tips for ethnic hair

27 Responses

  1. Weaves!!! Natural hair weaves are smart, but synthetic hair tangles and some ladies look like they are rushing to an audition for Urban Hobo role in new TV series!!! Those with Brazillian have Diva attitude, guess they have it all to back it up (LOL) . I have dreadlocks but I do wear laced 100% natural weave sometimes for special occassions.

  2. I’m a definitely weave girl…thank you for a great and useful tip!!! I haven’t been taking care of my natula care – weave after weave after weave…I learnt the hard way!!

  3. i love me some weaves but would have really appreciated learning more about product that we can use to wash our hair or DIY Techniques that will give the weave a longer life span. there are way too many rumours about taking care of weaves out there.

  4. I loooove weaves. People who say “Black people must leave the weave” just say that coz they dunno what its like to have hair like ours. Its versitile, easier to manage, looks really good and makes me feel good too. Do you see any reason why I should leave the weave? Coz I don’t.

  5. Great article…would love to see a ‘products to help maintain your weave’ article- I think a lot of us ‘weavers’ (lol) would appreciate it!

  6. It’s a shame that women have to spend a fortune to buy weaves that look halfway decent. I have so much respect for those that rock their natural hair and show that they take great care of it.

  7. This article was very insightful especially where it warns about some manufacturers labeling hair as 100% human hair when it’s actually mixed with syntactic hair. One should always keep your wits about you.

  8. I would love to see an article giving 10 best buy brands of human hair. And also, signs to look for when buying the brazilian or indian hair. How do you know what is real and what isn’t? I know that the mixed human-synthetic hair is difficult to tell apart when the hair is still new/packaged and the signs only come out once you’ve been using the hair.

  9. Hi Monahadi, it would be best to consult a salon for more information on different types of weaves. We shall certainly consider an article based on different types of weaves.

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