You may be in a style rut, experiencing damage from over-styling, or maybe you just want a change for a little while. You can always wear protective styles to rest your hair but it still requires daily styling to maintain a protective style as well as your hair is still exposed, which you may not want. No matter the reason, there are ways you can do this safely without damaging your natural hair. Two options to cover and protect are weaves and wigs.
Should you wear a wig it or have a weave installed, and what are the differences to your natural hair.
All methods have advantages and disadvantages.
A sew-in weave is a process where the stylist cornrows your hair to your scalp in a continuous pattern. She may use extension hair to complete this if your hair is not long enough to complete the pattern. Usually it is braided in a spiral pattern but can be done differently.
The stylist then sews wefts of hair onto the cornrows for a secure fit.
PROS of Sew-ins:
Sew ins are the most secure of all weaves.
They can remain in the hair for months.
It is easy to get to the scalp for washing.
You can wear your hair in lots of styles without worrying about it falling out.
You can participate in any water activity such as swimming.
You can style the hair much as you would your own hair, providing the weft hair is human hair.
CONS of Sew-ins:
They are the most expensive type of weave.
If you need to remove it, it will have to be professionally put in again.
Wearing cornrows for a long time can cause itching and hair loss.
The wefts tend to shed a lot, causing rapid thinning of the hairstyle
Your head will be bumpy due to the cornrows, and these can often be seen under smooth/straight hair wefts.
A weave does not create a natural hairline, restricting your style choices.
Crochet Braids / Weave
You put these in by using a crochet hook to tie loose hair through corn rows. Of course, if you want to do this yourself with cornrows you will need to know how to do them. But you can also achieve this style without using cornrows if you are after just a brief style change or a look for a night out. Example, just put your hair in a bun and pull the hair through the bun.
PROS of Crochet Braids / Weave
This is a fast and easy style that you can wear for weeks.
It is relatively inexpensive.
You can do it yourself in a matter of hours.
You can do this without cornrows and create lots of styles for long term or one day.
You can reuse the hair if you treat it right.
CONS of Crochet Braids / Weave
I can't think of any.
Glue-in weaves are similar to sew in weaves, except the stylist uses glue to glue the weave hair to your own hair. I know people say that you can use gel, but it's still a no from me, putting this stuff on your hair.
PROS of Glue-Ins
There aren't any! Just don't do this.
CONS of Glue-ins
The glue can cause extreme hair loss.
The glue can be toxic.
The glue can damage your natural hair.
You can have an allergic reaction to the glue.
Glue can dissolve, flake or turn white.
This type of weave is not as secure as the sew-in.
You cannot participate in all activities as if you had natural hair.
Excessive sweating can cause the glue to dissolve.
There are several types of wigs out there, with prices to match. You can buy a wig from $10 to $1000+, depending on the quality and length of the hair.
Human hair wigs are made from real human hair, chemically processed to have the cuticle removed. This process does not change the texture of the hair but prevents it from becoming tangled easily.
You can get many textures of human hair wigs, from afro-kinky to silky-straight and in all the colors of the rainbow.
Synthetic wigs are made from a polymer/plastic. They are generally cheaper than human hair wigs but do not last as long and cannot be colored/dyed or styled with heat appliances. The cheaper variety of these wigs can have a cheap, shiny appearance.
All wigs have caps, the different types of caps causing different fits and coverage.
There are full cap, half cap, crowns, lacefronts and full lace wigs. I will not go into detail with every single type as there are a lot of resources online from wig specialists you can Google. But I will venture into lace wigs.
Lace wigs are wigs that have a lace front hairline which allows parting anywhere where the lace is. The lace in the front is matched close to your skin tone and glued, gelled or taped to just below the hairline, then the excess lace is cut off and smoothed. The effect should be a natural hairline. You do not always have to use adhesive and can simply cut off the lace and wear your wig glue-less but you will have to adjust the wig fit and maybe sew in an elastic to the back or add combs to make the wig more secure.
Lacefronts contain lace in the front section of the wig only, which is the only place where you can part the hair.
You can get ready-made glue-less lace wigs as well but be prepared to pay more for them.
PROS of Wigs
In general wigs are cheaper than having a weave installed, though custom wigs can cost $000s.
Wigs offer full coverage of the hair, allowing for complete rest of the natural hair.
Correctly fitting wigs protect the hair underneath.
Wigs can be for an extended period of time in the case of lace wigs, or taken off daily which allows you to wash and condition your natural hair and scalp as normal and keep an eye on or treat scalp conditions.
You can have several wigs and change your style often.
Wigs are perfect for women suffering from hair loss or trying to grow their hair back without adding tension to the hair.
CONS of Wigs
Wigs are the least secure of all the solutions.
Wigs can be snatched off, pulled off or even blown off your head under the right circumstances.
Wigs with full caps can make your head heat up in hot and humid weather.
If you have a lot of natural hair, it may be difficult to get a wig to fit without having to cornrow your hair down.
Sometimes wigs can feel very unnatural, like you are wearing a hat, and will take time to get used to.
Glues can remove your hairline, cause skin irritation or worse, and the solvents used to remove the glue can be even worse.
So, which should you choose? You should choose the method that best suits your budget, your activities and most importantly, your hair and what you are trying to achieve.
If you are struggling with hair loss, do not choose a weave, choose a wig without glue or adhesives.
If you are a very active person who participates in hair raising sports and you have healthy hair to support the challenges a weave presents, choose a weave or crochet braids.
Other than that, the choice is up to you.