Styles in Braids When Sewing in Hair

Just months before Rihanna had this long, ruby weave for this May 2011 performance in New York City, she had shoulder-length hair.

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

How is Rihanna able to grow her short hair so long overnight? Her trick is a hair weave. A weave is when an individual sews in tracks of hair onto cornrows that lie flat on your head. Some hairdressers call a weave a “sew-in.” The type of sew-in braids that you get affects how your final ‘do will look. So, it’s worth your while to learn more about the style that you want so your hairdresser can do the right kind of weave.

Enclosed Sew-In

An enclosed sew-in is when a stylist braids your hair in one continuous cornrow that looks likes it forms a spiral around your head. The cornrow starts at the back of your head, at the nape, and ends at the crown. This type of sew-in is ideal if you want to be a curly girl or don’t want your hair to form a part at the front of your head. When you get an enclosed sew-in, you usually get a full head of hair extensions. If you want to put your hair in an updo or ponytail (and make it less obvious that you have a weave), have your stylist leave some of your own hair loose around the perimeter of your head.

Horizontal Braids

A technique that hairdressers use to give you a full-head weave with a natural-looking part is to braid horizontal cornrows across your head. First, the stylist parts the hair at the front of your head wherever your desire. Then she starts making the cornrows that are parallel to the part. If you want this type of sew-in, look for an experienced stylist who knows how to seamlessly connect all the plaits. Otherwise, you may end up with the tail ends of the braids poking through the hair in the weave. Not hot.

Partial Sew-In

A partial sew-in allows you to have the most natural-looking weaves because the stylist places the cornrows only at the back of your head or under your own hair. If you want to simply add length to your gorgeous locks, the hairdresser will secure the top half of your tresses to the top of your head. Then she makes horizontal cornrows along the back middle section of your head before sewing in the hair tracks. Your natural hair will cover the cornrows and tracks, so they won’t be noticeable. This method also lets you pull your tresses up into a ponytail or updo without any worries. To add volume to your 'do, a hairdresser will make two U-shaped cornrows along the top of your head. The hair that you have at the top of your head will cover the cornrows and tracks so they’re hard to spot.

Netweave Sew-In

If you have experienced hair loss from having alopecia, chemotherapy or radiation treatments, an overdose of chemical hair treatments or because it has naturally thinned, you can get a gorgeous head of hair with a netweave sew-in. When you get a netweave, a stylist braids the hair you do have into cornrows. She then sews a weaving net onto the plaited hair as an extra anchor for the hair tracks. To give you a hairstyle with a lot of body, your hairdresser may use a front lace sew-in wig in combination with a lace-cap wig.

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