About two weekends ago my partner in crime, Samantha of Whollyhair.com, sent me a screenshot of a comment. [See comment below.] I was slightly taken aback by this tweet for a few reasons. First, it insinuates weaves are grave dangers to natural hair and, merely, serve as “quick fixes” to achieve longer lengths. Second, it suggests that women are impatient and willing to sacrifice their follicles for temporary length. Finally, it completely disregards the fact that weaves are often used to help grow longer healthier hair, protect natural hair from over-manipulation and heat damage, and provide styling versatility.
Now, I know that there are many women who still experience adverse affects from wearing weaves because they struggle with weave maintenance and general hair care while rocking weaves/extensions, but that doesn’t mean the actual weaves and extensions are natural (or actual) hair terrorists. Instead, it suggests there is something wrong with the hair practices employed while wearing weaves/extensions.
As a healthy hair aficionado, self-proclaimed hair connoisseur, and wearer/advocate of weaves, I can say with full confidence that weaves work wonders if installed and maintained properly. Weaves have played (and continue to play) a huge role in my healthy hair growth journey. After my second big chop, I managed to grow my hair from neck length to bra-strap length in less than a year and a half by wearing weaves and caring for my hair underneath the weave. My edges still exist (they are actually thick), my leave-out is perfectly fine, and my hair has not broken off or anything like that.
As an extremely active professional, I saved myself from heat damage and unnecessary breakage caused by over-manipulation all because I chose to win with weaves instead of struggling with my actual hair. Now, I’m not saying active professionals can’t win or manage without weaves, I’m just saying weaves were (and still are) more fitting for my lifestyle and long-term hair goals. To further my point, I have watched my sisters, friends, YouTubers, and bloggers maintain healthy hair and, even, grow their actual hair longer by wearing weaves without damaging or sacrificing their follicles. Again, it all comes down to your hair practices while rocking weaves/extensions.
The flip side is Naomi Campbell. Naomi has become the poster child for weave naysayers and critics. After many years of neglect, tugging, pulling, and over-manipulation, she is suffering from an irreversible condition called traction alopecia – gradual hair loss caused by tension, pulling or force applied to the hair. Unfortunately, she is stuck wearing weaves and wigs if she wants to wear particular hairstyles or hide her decimated edges.
I can’t completely blame Naomi because she is an icon in an industry that doesn’t understand black hair care. I know that doesn’t make her neglect right, but I can’t fully fault her for succumbing to the image expectations of her job. I’m sure, for many years, her hair was styled by “hair stylists” who didn’t know how to do her hair or were simply focusing on achieving a particular style rather than the overall health of her hair… If I’m completely honest that sounds a lot like some modern day stylists…I digress…
With all this in mind, should we really be blaming weaves and extensions for this type of damage or should we blame the method or care practices employed? Braids, ponytails, buns, barrettes, clips, over-manipulation, heating tools, and chemicals can cause this kind of damage too, so why do people continue to single out weaves/extensions?
The truth is weaves/extensions can serve as a shield or a sword. If you choose to take care of your actual hair while wearing weaves, you’ll be just fine and even see amazing results. On the other hand, if you install a weave or extensions improperly and/or forget your actual hair exists underneath that weave or amongst those clip-ins, your hair will suffer. There are some people who don’t have to do much, but the question is do you want to take the chance?The bottom line is you don’t have to turn out like Naomi or anyone else that has suffered adverse affects from wearing weaves. You just need to practice healthy hair habits while wearing weaves and you can reap all the benefits of temporarily tucking your hair away.
The comment makes a couple of good points: 1) Some women are not well versed in caring for the combination of their weave/extensions and their actual hair; and (2) by the time women realize the damage that’s been done, it’s too late – i.e. the faulty installs and neglect win the battle and some hair is missing.
Over the next 7-weeks through my Weave Wednesday Etiquette Series, you will learn everything you need to know to maintain healthy hair and grow longer lengths with weaves. You will learn how to select weaves/extensions, prep your hair for an install, pick the right stylist, maintain your weave, care for your actual hair, remove your weave, and rejuvenate your actual hair and weave/extensions post removal. Hopefully, by the end of this series you’ll have all the knowledge you need to win with weaves and you can help me dispel these misconceptions about weaves.