How long does a sew-in take?

Published By: Dasia

Last Updated: March 17, 2022

Sew-ins are a protective style that can easily be achieved in a shorter time than you may expect. Sew-ins allow your natural hair to be safely tucked away while you are able to rock a new style.

While this style is easy to achieve, you may ask, how long does a sew-in take? Let’s take a look at how much time you can expect to take out of your day for installing a sew-in.

How long does a sew-in take?

There are quite a few steps needed to complete a sew-in and this affects the overall timing. You should expect a sew-in to take around 3 hours to complete. Depending on the amount of hair you have and the style you’re going for, you can expect to add a few hours more to that 3 hour mark.

The sew-in itself doesn’t take that long, generally it’s the prep work that takes long.

Prior to installing the sew-in, the hair needs to be properly washed, detangled, and conditioned. The total time for this should be somewhere around 45 min. Next, you have to prep the hair for the sew-in.

The most common method for preparing the hair is braiding. Cornrows is a type of braid ideal for sew-ins because the hair is able to lay flat against your head. This allows the installation to look neat and real. This preparation can take anywhere from 30 min to 1 hour.

The last area to consider is the actual installation. The timing of the installation will greatly depend on whether you install the hair yourself or if you hire a stylist. You can expect this to take 1 hour or more depending on how skilled you are.

What products are needed to complete a sew-in?

  • Products – You want to ensure your natural hair is taken care of along with the scalp. The hair should be properly moisturized and the scalp should be oiled.
  • Bundles – Bundles will determine the overall look you’re going for and are a necessity in completing a full weave look.
  • Weaving net – This product will help secure your natural hair and give you an added layer of securing the bundles when sewing the hair.
  • Needle and thread – This is what gives a sew-in its name. These tools are used to secure the bundles to the head completing the look.

What makes a sew-in take so long?

The first question you need to ask when installing a sew-in is whether or not you are going to be installing it yourself or have a stylist do it. By installing it yourself you have a little more flexibility but the process is generally the same. Stylists generally take less time as they can see exactly what they are doing and have the needed experience.


  • Decide on the style you want and purchase hair that will correlate with the look. Since you’re working on your own time you can do this whenever making the timing convenient.
  • Prep your hair by washing, conditioning, and detangling the hair. Secure your hair by braiding the hair into cornrows or any other discrete braiding style. You want to ensure your natural hair is as flat as possible. Expect this to take some time.
  • Start sewing the hair at the nape of your neck and work your way upward. Since you’re working on your own head, it’s hard to navigate the back of your head and it will likely take you longer to get this part right.
  • Once you get to the crown on your head either style leave out to cover the wefts or attach a closure or frontal to get a realistic look. This part should be pretty fast.


  • If you are working with a stylist you will have to work on their time meaning scheduling when is convenient for them. Once you’ve booked, this is about as much work as you will have to do.
  • The stylist should take time to do a consultation. This will help them to better understand the look you are going for and other important factors such as how much time you want to spend on styling the hair.
  • Once a look is settled on the process is quite simple, your natural hair will be taken care of. The hair will be washed, conditioned, detangled, and braided.
  • The stylist will likely start at the nape of the neck and work upward. Since they can see what they are doing this process will go fairly quickly. Once the stylists gets to the crown of your head either a closure or frontal will be installed or leave out will be utilized. 

How long does the average sew-in last? 

Sew-ins typically last around 4 weeks. You may be able to get away with longer but you want to keep an eye on the new growth to ensure the extensions don’t get too loose. If the extensions aren’t secure this could cause a problem such as snagging when the hair is brushed which can cause damage. As long as your natural hair is well maintained underneath, you should be able to get away with a maximum of around 8 weeks.  

How much does a sew-in cost?

Sew-ins are significantly cheaper than most hair services. Just like any other hair services the labor is what is going to be most expensive. You can expect to pay around $200 for a sew-in installation. The stylist’s time is worth money but the products used to complete an installation are relatively cheap. If you can learn to install a sew-in yourself you can expect to pay around $50 just for the supplies.

Is a sew-in painful?

A sew-in should not be painful. In order to prep the hair, your natural hair is likely braided into cornrows. They can seem to be quite tight if you are not used to it. While you can expect cornrows to be tight, they should have a secure feeling, not painful. If your head starts to hurt, notify your stylist so they can loosen the braids. While a typical sew-in is installed with a needle, it should never come into contact with your head meaning this is another area that shouldn’t cause pain.


Sew-ins are a great option considering the wear you can get out of the hair for the time that is spent towards installing the hair.

You have the option to install the hair on your own or via a stylist just know the later option may save you some time in the long run. While you may save some money, expect to pay a lot more than if you decide to install a sew-in yourself.

Just remember to have fun with sew-ins and find a style that works best for you. At the end of the day how long it takes won’t matter, just the results will.


A lover of all things beauty related whose been in the industry for about 5 years. While I'd love to say I'm a self-taught prodigy, I'm actually a licensed cosmetologist who has spent countless hours studying hair. I quickly learned sharing valuable information with like-minded individuals allows everyone to make the right choices when dealing with their hair. As a curly girl myself I love to experiment with different styles on a regular basis. While I do have a busy schedule between work, freelancing, and school; I always seem to find time for my hair.

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