What Are Sew-In Hair Extensions? A Beginner’s Guide

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Sew-in hair extensions have been a go-to choice for many women who want to add length, volume, and thickness to their natural tresses without undergoing nerve-racking hair implant procedures. 

Whether you’re a hair extension newbie or pro who’s curious about trying sew-ins, this guide has got you covered!

A photo of a woman with long blonde hair with sew in hair extension in a salon.

From what sew-in hair extensions are to how they’re installed to how they’re styled and maintained, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make an informed decision about whether sew-in hair extensions are right for you.

Ready to have a deep dive into our comprehensive guide on sew-in hair extensions?

Scroll down to learn more!

What Are Sew-In Hair Extensions?

Sew-in hair extensions are a popular type of semi-permanent hair extensions. Installing them involves attaching wefts of hair — which are also called weaves — to your natural hair using a specialized needle and a thread.

The process begins by braiding your natural hair into cornrows that lay flat against your scalp. Then the wefts are sewn onto the cornrows using a needle and a thread. 

The thread is usually a similar color to your natural hair, which is why it blends seamlessly with the rest of your hair.

Many people love this hair extension method because they are generally more secure than others. Plus, they can last up to six to 12 weeks when properly cared for. 

Also, sew-in hair extensions are suitable for both thin and thick hair, as they can add volume and length to both types.

However, the installation process may differ slightly depending on the thickness of the natural hair, as more wefts may need to be used for thicker hair.

What’s The Best Hair Type For Sew-Ins?

There are different hair types for sew-in extensions, namely synthetic and human hair. 

Synthetic hair extensions are man-made fibers that are designed to mimic the look and texture of human hair, while human hair extensions are made out of real human hair and sourced from various donors.

Between the two, human hair extensions are a more popular choice for sew-ins because they provide a more natural look and feel. You can easily find one that matches the texture of your real hair. 

Additionally, they’re more durable, versatile, and comfortable to wear. 

While synthetic hair extensions may be more affordable, the benefits of sew-in human hair extensions often outweigh their expensive price.

Types Of Sewn-In Extensions

One of the best things about sew-in hair extensions is that it has two specific types that cater to different needs. 

Let’s dive into what makes each of these types unique and which one might be the right fit for you!

Full Sew-Ins

As the name suggests, full sew-in hair extensions involve sewing extensions into your entire head of hair. This means that none of your natural hair is left out; all of it is braided into cornrows and hidden under the extensions.

This creates a seamless, natural look that can last for several weeks.

Also, full sew-in hair extensions are perfect for those who want a dramatic transformation. Those who want to add length to shorter hair may also find this option more ideal for their needs.

Partial Sew-Ins

With the partial sew hair extension method, only a portion of your hair is braided and sewn in, leaving the rest of your natural hair out. 

This type is great for those who want to add volume or length to specific areas of their hair, without committing to a full sew-in.

This also gives you the option to add highlights or lowlights to your hair without dyeing your natural tresses.

Pros of Sew-In Hair Extensions

Sew-in hair extensions have become increasingly popular in recent years as they offer a quick and convenient way to improve the appearance of your hair.

However, like any other beauty treatment, sew-ins come with their own set of pros and cons that are worth considering before taking the plunge.

Let’s start by discussing some of the advantages of sew-in hair extensions.

Added Thickness and Volume

If you’re looking for added volume, sew-in hair extensions are a great option. They can add fullness to thin or thinning hair or give you that voluminous hairstyle that you’ve always wanted.

Plus, they can be customized to match your hair color and texture, making them look like a part of your own hair.

Long-Lasting Hold

Sew-in hair extensions are secured using a needle and a thread, which creates a strong hold that lasts for several weeks.

This means that you can enjoy your new look for an extended period without worrying about the extensions falling out.

Natural-Looking Appearance

When sew-in extensions are done correctly, they can blend seamlessly with your natural hair, so you can flaunt fuller and longer locks that look totally natural.

They also provide the option to experiment with different hair textures, colors, and lengths without letting your natural tresses suffer from exposure to chemical styling. 

Impressive Versatility

Sew-in weave extensions come in a wide variety of colors, lengths, and textures. 

This makes them ideal for achieving any hairstyle you desire, be it long, straight hair or bouncy, curly locks!

Minimal Upkeep

Once sew-in extensions are installed, they require very little maintenance. The braided base that the extensions are sewn onto provides a stable foundation for the wefts of hair.

The braids keep the extensions securely in place and prevent them from shifting or slipping, which means you don’t have to worry about readjusting them regularly.

You can wash and style them just like you would your natural hair, and they will still look amazing. 

Hair Protection

One of the best things about having extensions weaved into hair is that they can protect your natural tresses.

The braided base that the extensions are sewn into provides a protective barrier that shields your hair from heat damage and environmental factors. 

This means that you can give your natural hair a break from styling and still maintain a flawless look. 

Cons Of Getting Sew-Ins

Now let’s dive into the potential downsides of sew-in hair extensions.

Time-Consuming Installation

If you’re planning on getting sew-in extensions, you need to be ready to spend several hours in the salon. 

Installing them typically requires that a skilled stylist braid your hair into a base of cornrows before stitching the hair extensions in, which can take several hours. 

Similarly, removing the extensions requires the stylist to carefully cut the thread used to sew them in, which can also take a considerable amount of time.

Potential Damage To Natural Hair

Sew-in hair extensions have the potential to cause damage to your real hair if they are not installed or maintained properly.

The braided base used to secure the extensions can be too tight, creating excess tension by pulling on the scalp and hair follicles. 

This tension can cause damage your real hair and even cause breakage, leading to hair loss or thinning.

Expensive Price

Another potential disadvantage of sew-in hair extensions is the cost. Sew-ins can be more expensive than other types of extensions due to the high level of skill required in installing them.

Potential Discomfort or Pain

Sew-in hair extensions may also cause pain because the braids used to secure the extensions in place can sometimes feel tight or pull on your scalp, which may lead to discomfort or even headaches.

If you have a sensitive scalp or a tendency to get headaches, it’s important to communicate with your stylist about any discomfort you may be feeling during the installation procedure.

Steps In Installing and Sewing In Extensions

An infographic featuring steps in installing and sewing in extensions in 5 steps

Curious about how installing sew-in hair extensions is done?

You’re in luck because we’re giving you the detailed steps below!

Step 1: Gather the Needed Tools

In installing sew-in hair extensions, you need to prepare the following tools:

Step 2: Prepare Your Hair

  • Start with clean, dry hair. Wash, condition, and rinse your hair thoroughly, making sure that there is no product residue or oil left behind.
  • Use your tail comb to part your hair in a U shape around the crown of your head. Clip the top section of your hair up.

Step 3: Create the Base Braid

  • Divide the bottom section of your hair into small sections horizontally using your tail comb. 
  • Starting at the nape of your neck, braid each section of hair horizontally along your scalp. The braids should be tight and flat against your head. 
  • Once you have finished braiding the bottom section of your hair, unclip the top section of your hair and braid it in a similar way. This time, make sure that the braids are running perpendicular to the braids in the bottom section of your hair. This will create a secure base for your extensions.

Step 4: Measure and Prepare the Extensions

  • Measure the weft of your hair extensions against your head, starting at one side of your head and ending at the other. Use scissors to cut the weft to the correct size.
  • Use a tail comb to create a horizontal part at the nape of your neck. 
  • Place the weft of the hair extensions against the part you created and ensure your curved needle and nylon thread are ready, so you can easily sew in your extensions. 

Step 5: Sew in the Extensions

  • Take the weft of hair extensions and lay it flat against the base braid.
  • Thread a weaving needle with thread that matches the color of your hair.
  • Tie a knot at the end of the thread and — starting at one end of the weft — begin sewing the weft onto one section of the base braids. 
  • Make small stitches, making sure to sew through both the weft and each braid.
  • Continue sewing the weft onto the braid until you reach the other end of the weft.
  • Move up to the next section of hair and repeat the process, sewing in additional wefts until you have covered the entire head.
  • Once you have finished sewing or stitching in your hair extensions, use scissors to cut off any excess thread.

Step 6: Style Your Hair and Extensions

  • Apply a heat protectant spray to protect your hair from the damage caused by heat-styling tools.
  • To style your hair, use a flat or curling iron. Doing this will help the extensions blend in with your natural hair.
  • After styling, make sure that the extensions are hidden and there are no visible gaps or bumps in the hairstyle.

How To Maintain Sewn-In Hair Weaves

Many users have found themselves amazed at their sew-in hair extensions before-and-after look. However, many of them have also neglected to care for their sew-ins properly, causing their extensions to look unkempt after a while.

We don’t want you to suffer the same fate. That’s why you need to follow these tips in order to keep your sew-ins fabulous for longer!

Keep Your Scalp Clean And Moisturized

It’s very important to keep your scalp clean and moisturized when you have a sewn-in hair weave. 

Remember to use the right hair care products like a sulfate-free or hair extension-friendly shampoo and conditioner to cleanse and condition your hair.

Don’t Overwash

While it’s important to keep your hair and scalp clean, you don’t want to overwash your hair. Overwashing can cause your hair to become dry and brittle, which can lead to breakage.

Aim to wash your hair no more than once a week. But if you lead an active lifestyle, you may wash your hair at least twice a week to get rid of sweat, dirt, and oil.

Be Gentle When Brushing and Styling

When you have sewn-in hair extensions, you need to be gentle when brushing and styling your hair. 

To do this, use a wide-tooth comb or soft-bristled brush for detangling. Also, avoid pulling or tugging on your weave.

Also, it’s best to brush your hair at the tips first and work your way up gently. Remember to avoid touching the braided base of your extensions when brushing or styling!

Take Steps to Protect Your Extensions Against Heat

Using heat-protectant products before using heat-styling tools can help prevent breakage and split ends.

Additionally, remember that applying high heat to your hair can make it brittle. So it’s best to use a low to medium heat setting when styling your hair, preferably between 250°F and 350°F.

Taking these steps can help preserve the health and integrity of your extensions and ensure they look fantastic for as long as possible.

Avoid Sleeping On Wet Hair

Sleeping on wet hair can cause your hair to become tangled and matted, which can lead to breakage. 

Before going to bed, make sure to dry your hair completely, and consider wrapping your hair with a satin cap to protect your natural hair and extensions while you sleep.

Get Regular Touch-Ups

As your hair grows, your sewn-in hair weave may start to loosen or become tangled. 

It’s important to ensure that your weave stays in place and looks great by getting regular visits to the salon every four to eight weeks.

Telling Signs It’s Time To Let The Sew-Ins Go

While sew-ins can last long, there are some signs that tell you it’s time to remove them and give your natural hair a break.

Here are some telling signs that it’s time to let your sew-ins go.

Tension and Discomfort

If you’re experiencing any discomfort while wearing your sew-ins, it may be a sign that they’re too tight.

Excessive tension from the weight of the extensions or pulling on your hairline can lead to hair breakage and even permanent hair loss. It’s vital to listen to your body and remove the sew-ins if you’re feeling uncomfortable.

Scalp Odor or Buildup

One of the telling signs that your sew-ins are overdue for removal is when you start to notice an unpleasant odor or buildup on your hair and scalp. 

Dirt, sweat, and product buildup can accumulate on your scalp and cause irritation and infection if not immediately addressed. So it’s vital to get your sew-ins removed and replaced once you notice any sign of buildup. 

Hair Loss and/or Breakage

Sew-ins can be damaging to your natural hair if they are not properly installed and maintained. 

If you notice your hair thinning out or experiencing breakage, it could be a sign that your sew-in is too tight or it’s time to give your natural hair the break it needs.

Unkempt Appearance

As your sew-ins grow out, they can start to look messy or unkempt. If the sew-ins no longer look neat and tidy, it’s probably time to remove them and either get a new set of sew-ins or opt for a different hairstyle.

Mats and Tangles

If your sew-ins are starting to tangle or mat, it may be a sign that they’ve been in for too long. It’s crucial to get them removed right away before the matting gets worse. 

Extended Wear

Sew-ins are meant to be temporary, so it’s important to remove them after a certain amount of time. Leaving your sew-in for too long can lead to hair damage and breakage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Dye My Sew-In Hair Extensions?

Yes, it is possible to dye sew-in hair extensions, but it’s crucial to do so carefully and get the right products to avoid damaging them.

If you are considering dyeing your sew-in extensions, it’s best to consult your trusted stylist and ask them to assess the condition of the extensions and recommend the appropriate dye and technique. 

When dyeing your sew-in extensions, it’s important to use a high-quality hair dye that is specifically formulated for use on extensions, especially if they’re synthetic

You should also avoid using bleach or high-lift colors, which can cause damage and breakage to both your extensions and natural hair.

Before dyeing your extensions, we recommend testing a small section of the hair to ensure that the color applies evenly and does not cause damage. 

Be sure as well to read and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your chosen hair dye carefully to avoid any mishaps.

Can I Reuse My Sew-In Extensions?

Yes, it is possible to reuse sew-in hair extensions, but it depends on several factors.

The life span of sew-in hair extensions depends on how high-quality they are, how they were installed, and how well they’ve been cared for.

With proper care, high-quality human hair extensions can last up to a year or more, and they can be used for multiple installations.

To reuse sew-in extensions, they must be carefully removed from the previous installation, and any remaining thread must be removed without damaging the wefts. 

The extensions should then be thoroughly washed, conditioned, and air-dried before being stored in a clean, dry place.

If you’re considering reusing your sew-in extensions, it’s important to assess the condition of the hair to determine whether it is still in good condition to be reused. 

If the extensions have become damaged or brittle or lost their shape or texture, then it may be time to invest in new ones.

Take Your Hair Style To The Next Level With Sew-In Hair Extensions!

Sew-in hair extensions are a fantastic and versatile option for anyone looking to make their hair look thicker, longer, and more beautiful.

A close up photo of a woman's hair in the process of getting sew in hair extension

With proper installation and care, sew-ins can provide a long-lasting and natural-looking enhancement to your hair.

So why not give them a try and take your hair game to the next level? Follow our tips and guidelines above to help you install your extensions properly and make the most of them!

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  • Janille Gultiano

    Jan, a distinguished freelance makeup artist, also boasts a BA in Mass Communication, laying the foundation for her diverse talents. For over four years, she's carved a niche as a captivating content writer, with her articles resonating in various spheres. Beyond writing, her expertise extends to crafting robust Public Relations and Corporate Communications strategies. Each endeavor reflects Jan's unique blend of creativity and precision

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