What Is A Weave?

Published By: Dasia

Last Updated: July 28, 2022

Want to try out a new summer style this year? Weaves are a great option for switching up your style without the long term effects. 

If you’re a fan of change, weaves are for you. Experimenting to figure out what works best for your hair is a part of the fun. 

Keep reading to find out what a weave is and figure out why you need to get one installed. 

What is a Hair weave and how does it work?

What exactly is a weave? A weave is a specific type of hair extension. A hair weft, also known as weave, is attached onto your natural hair and then styled into a desired style. 

The reason weaves are so popular is because they are highly versatile and oftentimes undetectable. Artificial hair integration allows you to add length and fullness to your natural hair without the commitment. 

Weaves typically involve your natural hair to be tucked away, usually by being braided into cornrows underneath. Bundles are then sewn into your hair or glued on to another foundation.

A closure can complete a full head of weave and is applied the same way as the previous extensions. If you don’t want to use a closure you can leave out the perimeter of your hair to give the same effect.

History and Why It’s Important

Hair weaves did not gain in popularity until the 1950’s. Although this was the case, the main consumers were not your everyday people. 

Many Asian countries have had a high impact on the weaves that are readily available all over the world. Countries like China and India are the biggest suppliers for manufacturing of extensions and wigs. [1]

Since weaves have become more accessible it has allowed for them to be incorporated into different parts of culture, especially that of African Americans. Yes, weaves aren’t exclusive to African Americans. [2]

Read more: Who invented hair weaves?

Popularity and Trends of Weave

The demand for weaves is primarily driven by new trends, often showcased by celebrities on social media.

There is a constant urge to improve one’s personal appearance and as years go on and people make more money, they’re able to invest in themselves more.

With the middle class able to up their standard of living, they were able to take part in markets that were previously only for those who were rich.

How to Install a Weave?

What should you expect when getting a weave installed? There are two ways you can go about this: getting it professionally done at a salon or you can do it yourself.

Most who install weave on their own opt for a quick weave. This means the weave is applied to a foundation that can be easily applied and removed from the head.

Salons typically offer sew-ins. This is due to the fact that the stylist is able to follow the guideline of the braids underneath the extension.


  • You will need to buy the hair, a stocking cap, protective shield, and an adhesive. You can easily find these online or at a beauty supply store
  • Once you are ready, measure the length of your head and cut the hair accordingly.
  • After you have the hair cut to the right length, apply the stocking cap, a thin layer of protective shield and start glueing the hair
  • If you are working with a frontal, this is the last section you would apply. Otherwise style your leave out as normal
  • A quick weave typically takes an hour and a half to install and lasts around 1 month. It can be removed with water that will break down the adhesive.


  • Do research to find a reputable salon
  • Some stylist require you to provide your own hair, if so, weave can be purchased online or at a beauty supply store
  • Your natural hair will be conditioned and detangled then secured in cornrows and a weaving net will be attached
  • The process of sewing will be completed with a needle and thread
  • Often times your stylist will leave out edges to give a more natural look 
  • The average time to complete a full weave is about 4 hours and they typically last around 6 weeks

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a weave?

Installing a weave is a non-invasive hair procedure. Although the procedure is non-invasive, no doubt there are advantages and disadvantages. What are they?


  • Instant results – you can get a new style in just a few hours
  • Complete freedom – add volume and length to your natural hair 
  • Experiment – try different colors, length, and texture on your hair without the damage
  • Average price – meaning you know what to expect each month you get one installed


  • Not permanent – you have to redo the installation process every month  
  • Expensive – the extensions get worn down over time and if they’re getting professionally installed, many visits to the salon. 
  • Unnatural – Weaves do not always achieve a natural look 
  • Discomfort and headaches – due to the tight braiding of your natural hair

What products are needed to complete a weave?

Obviously the first thing you would need is the extensions. They can be real or synthetic, it’s up to you to decide the type. 

  • 3 bundles are needed (typically) – to complete a full head of weave.
  • A closure is often used with a full weave to avoid the leave out of your natural hair. They’re typically made from either silk or lace. Only one is needed to complete a full head.
  • A protective wig cap or weaving net – will be required depending on the type of installation process you go with.
  • An adhesive or needle and thread – will also be needed to attach the extensions to your head.

To remove a weave it is quite simple, you will need either water or scissors. Water is used to loosen the glue and scissors are used to cut the thread.

What are the most common installation techniques? 

Weaves are meant to be installed for several weeks. There are many different ways to install a weave, but the two most common are bonding and tracking.

Bonding (Glue)

Bonding is a method of weaving that lasts for a shorter period of time in comparison to sew-ins. It is installed by adding hair glue to a section of wefted hair then attaching it onto a person’s head or other foundation.

It is advised that weave bonding be installed for no more than 3 weeks because the glue begins to loosen up and the wefts start to fall out. There are 2 types of bonding methods: soft bond and hard bond.

Tracking (Sewing)

Tracking involves the braiding of a person’s natural hair, then attaching a piece of weft to the hair by sewing it in.

The hair is sewn horizontally or vertically across the head from one side to the other, this is done to prevent the hair from becoming uneven. The hair lies flat against the head this way. 

The number of tracks used depends on the desired look, you can have a full head of weave or just a few tracts.

What is the difference between a weave and an extension?

A  general rule of thumb is that all weaves are a type of hair extension, but not all hair extensions are weaves.

Culture and your upbringing also play a big part in which type you gravitate towards and prefer using. African Americans usually enjoy weaves due to the fact that they can have a longer lasting result. 

A Weave 

Weaves are attached to braided hair. The hair that is braided is then sewn down, allowing the hair weft extension to be sewn onto the braids. The most common types of braids for a weave are tiny horizontal cornrows since they are small and easily able to hide. 

The wefts used for a weave are often gathered together at the top of the head and fastened together to create a hair piece or closure.  A needle and thread are the most common way to secure these types of extensions and preferred to be installed by a professional stylist.

A Hair Extension

Hair extensions are generally clipped, glued, or sewn in with your natural hair by incorporating additional human or synthetic hair. The most common method for extensions in this case are clip-ins and they can often be installed at home without the help of a professional.

Being aware of the type of extension you have installed allows you to know how to style and how long you can keep them in. Generally clip-ins last a lot longer than weaves due to the fact that they can be removed more periodically.

Do weaves damage your hair?

Due to the fact that your natural hair is tightly pulled on when wearing a weave, this can be tough on your hair. 

The constant pull could damage not only the hair stand, but also the hair follicle. Since hair follicles can not be grown back after they have damage, this can lead to permanent hair loss. [3]

Fortunately though, you can take the needed precautions to ensure your hair stays as healthy as possible. It is always good to remember that the styles you choose and the products you use go a long way in maintaining healthy hair. [4]

Read more: Do weaves damage your hair?

How long do hair weaves last?

The short answer is it depends on the type of hair you have installed and the method of installation. The brand, texture, and material all play a part in how long you can keep the hair in. 

Human hair, especially virgin hair, tends to last significantly longer than most synthetic hair. Sew-ins also last closer to 8 weeks due to the fact that outside elements can’t change the hold it has on your hair.

Typically weaves last for 4-8 weeks depending on the installation method. Any time after 8 weeks will start to pose a problem because your natural hair will need to get detangled or else it will start matting.

What have we learned?

Weaves are a type of hair extension that are extremely versatile. They allow your natural hair to be safely tucked away as you experiment with new styles. 

You are able to install weaves on your own or get them professionally done at a salon. There are also multiple different installation techniques to choose from.

Like any style, there are advantages and disadvantages, but if you do the proper research you will be able to find out what’s best for you and keep your natural hair healthy.

Read also: Types of Hair Weaves


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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