Flip Your Hair: A Beginner’s Guide to Weaves

  | 8 min read

Weaves enable hair to be incredibly versatile


Whether you want to rock a short bob like Rihanna or have a long flowy blonde hairstyle like Beyonce, weaves have made it incredibly easy to switch up your hairstyle overnight. While hair extensions have been popular in Tanzania for decades,  the market has never been as saturated with weaves, as it is right now. While this gives women a wide range of options, it also makes choosing a weave incredibly difficult. So, here is everything you need to know about weaves before you pick your next look.


What is a weave?


For those living under a rock, a weave is a type of hair extension that is sewn or glued to tracks on the hair. The tracks are created by braiding the hair into cornrows (mistari).


What are the benefits to wearing a weave?


  1. You can switch things up: Weaves enable you to change your look overnight. There are so many different types of weaves in the market, and a good hair stylist can help you customise a weave to get the look you want.
  2. Your real hair gets a break: A weave allows you to have different hairstyles without applying heat and chemicals to your actual hair. It lets your hair relax, while it does all the work.
  3. It saves time: When you have a weave you can get up in the morning, give it a slight brush and go. Therefore, it’s great for super busy people who want a hairstyle that is easy to maintain.
  4. It’s a good investment: Depending on the quality of the weave, it can last for months and can also be re-used multiple times (as long as you wash it!).


Types of weaves


While you can distinguish weaves in terms of length, colour, and texture, the most important distinction is whether it is synthetic or human hair.


Synthetic weaves, also known as fake weaves, are made out of manufactured plastic fibres. As a result, a synthetic weave can be damaged when high levels of heat are applied to it through hair straighteners and blow dryers.  


Whereas human hair weaves, also known as Remy hair, are made out of real human hair that is processed, and are incredibly versatile as you can blow-dry, straighten, and style them.  


While Remy is the most popular type of human hair weave in Tanzania, there is also virgin human hair weaves. This weave does not contain any chemicals and is in it’s most natural state. As a result, it is more expensive than Remy hair and mostly worn by wealthy women.


Methods of applying weave


1. Sew in: This is the most common way to apply a weave in Tanzania. Basically, the hair is braided up into cornrows (mistari), and the weave is installed with a needle and thread. The needle will only go through the plaits in your hair and will not touch your scalp.

Pros of sew-ins:


  • Most hairstylists know how to do sew-in weaves, so there’s little chance of mistakes
  • It’s easy to remove, as all you have to do is cut the threads that attach the weave to your actual hair


Cons of sew-ins:


  • If you have a sensitive scalp, then it can hurt if your cornrows are too tight
  • If your cornrows are too tight and the weave is also sewed in very tightly, it can weaken your real hair and lead to hair loss


2. Net sew-in: This is similar to the regular sew-in except a net is sewed on the cornrows (mistari) and the weave is sewed on to the net.

Pros of net sew-in:


  • Since the weave is sewn onto the net and not your hair, the net sew-in relieves the pressure and tightness one might feel when they get a regular sew-in. It’s a better option for people with sensitive scalps.


Cons of net sew-in:


  • Because the net creates a barrier between your actual hair and the weave, it’s harder to take care of your real hair when you have the weave on.


3. Glue-in or bonding: This method has become incredibly popular because it is super quick and lasts a long time. Basically, your real hair is sectioned into different parts and the weave is attached to the hair (near the scalp, but not on the scalp) with glue.  

Pros of bonding:


  • It blends extremely well with your natural hair and makes the weave look like it’s growing from your scalp (like it’s your real hair!). Though this depends on the quality of the weave.


Cons of bonding:


  • Over time, the weight of the weave on your real hair can weaken your it and cause hair loss and even premature balding
  • The glue chemical can react negatively with your scalp and cause burns, and possibly an infection


4. Fusion: This is the most expensive method of applying a weave, but it’s also the most natural. The weave is attached to your hair strand by strand using hot wax. Unless you are a weave expert there is no way of seeing where the weave bonds with the hair.

Pros of fusion:


  • It gives the most natural look


Cons of fusion:


  • It’s very expensive, and not many hairstylists have perfected the method. So you need to be careful who does it for you.




What to consider when picking your weave

As mentioned before, there are a lot of weave options in the market and when you go to a hair supply store or salon, you may be overwhelmed by the choice of hair you have. While deciding, always think about:


  1. Your hair texture: If you are planning to leave out some of your hair in the front to mask the weave in the back, then you absolutely have to make sure that your hair blends with the weave you choose. It has to be the same colour, you can’t have jet black hair and a brown weave! And it has to be as close in texture as possible. For instance, if you have relaxed hair, Brazillian and Malaysian hair is closer to the texture of your hair than Indian hair.
  2. Your budget: The better the quality of the hair, the more expensive it will be. Though there are plenty of affordable quality weaves being sold, if you are super broke then please don’t buy a weave. There’s nothing less flattering than a cheap-looking super shiny and crispy weave, especially if you live in a hot and humid place like Dar.
  3. The look you want: Before you step into the store, you should have a general idea of the style you want to go for and bring pictures to show the shopkeeper or hair stylist. Going in with absolutely no idea of what you want may lead you to end up with an expensive hairstyle that you hate!


How to maintain your weave


In addition to the quality, how you take care of your weave greatly affects how long it will last and look presentable on your head. So make sure you,


  1. Avoid combing your weave roughly. Always start combing your weave by detangling the hair at the bottom with a tooth comb and then move up.
  2. You absolutely need to maintain your real hair when you have a weave and wash it at least every 2 to 3 weeks. However, you can’t wash your hair like you normally do. You have to use your fingertips to gently massage your scalp so that you don’t loosen the braids (mistari) and threads.
  3. After washing your hair, make sure you completely dry your real hair underneath the weave, because it will stink if it remains wet.
  4. Because you will not be washing your hair often, your scalp will be itchier than usual. Instead of scratching it with your hands, use a scalp soothing product, and if this fails you can pat your weave lightly.


Experiment with caution


Weaves are all about experimenting and expressing yourself while (ideally) causing little damage to your natural hair. So don’t be afraid to try bold new styles, as you can always take it off. However, too often, people get so caught up with weaves that they forget to take care of their real hair underneath and this can lead to hair loss and damage over time. So while you should absolutely enjoy rocking a weave, remember that it is fake, and the real hair underneath also deserves some love and attention!


Iman Lipumba
A digital storyteller, experienced in creating content that improves website visibility on search engines, enhances the user experience, and nurtures brand loyalty. With a background in the social sciences, an expert in researching complex ideas, and communicating them in engaging language to multiple audiences.