Sew-In Hair Extensions, The Good and Bad
It is one of the methods that I've used to grow my hair out whenever I've wanted to start over.
There are so many sew-in styles to chose from. The edgy asymmetric bob was my signature style for at least six months. Then I had to figure out how to get through the short and choppy awkward length stage. That timeframe is where my love-hate relationship with hair extensions originated.
Luckily, I was able to use different textures of weaves to camouflage my hair being at least three different lengths in various sections of my head.
Unfortunately, when I first started wearing weaves, it was the pain of the install that kept me from getting too comfortable with maintaining the sew-in. Sew-ins are great but although they are cute they can be very painful.
Sew-ins Can Be Painful
In this article, you will find out why sew-ins can be such a painful method of styling. Don't worry, you will also learn what you can do to prevent the occurrence of pain during the install. We also have some amazing tips to help you eliminate scalp pain.
First, I would like to start out by saying that a tight sew-in should not be “dealt with.” You should not “suck it up,” and it does not “come with the territory” of getting a sew-in style. An extremely painful sew-in can result in scalp damage so it is something that you want to take seriously.
If you have been conditioned to think that it's not a big deal you may not know what “too tight” means. Here are three indicators that your sew-in was installed too tight:
- Your weave is too tight if you notice the outer corners of your eyes involuntarily going towards your ears.
- Getting a headache due to smiling and laughing indicates your weave is too tight.
- If you get up from the stylist chair and your head is throbbing, your weave is too tight.
- You are unable to sleep because of the pain
- You have been recommended to take pain killers for the pain
Are You Tender Headed?
Tender headed? You’ve probably heard the phrase used by a friend or someone you know. Well, the phrase means exactly what it says, their head is “tender” and sensitive to pain.
Those who are tender headed experience more pain than normal when getting their hair done. Due to this, they may have a hard time getting sew-ins, braids, and other hairstyles due to the pain. Their scalp is extremely sensitive so even the slightest pulling of the hair may feel extremely hurtful.
- Here are some signs that you may be tender-headed:
- You experience headaches when you get new hairstyles
- After new hairstyles, you experience difficulty sleeping
- Prior to getting your hair done, you take pain killers
Now although being tender-headed is common it can also have some causes. Let’s go over the 3 reasons for a tender scalp post-sew-in.
3 Reasons for A Tender Scalp Post Sew-In
#1 The Braid Down
The braid down, also known as the base of your sew-in is essential to a flat sew-in. Now, this is most likely the number one thing causing pain to your scalp.
A flat sew-in is the main reason why your bundles look less like a helmet, and more like tame tresses flowing from your roots. Since your braids are so small and thin, it allows the weft to sit as close as possible to your scalp. This allows them to emulate your real hair, allowing for a more natural look.
Nevertheless, your stylist may be tugging on your hair a little tighter than necessary and weaving the braids tightly to create a flat braid pattern. The braid down for a sew-in brings literal meaning to the phrase beauty is pain.
The tight braid pattern is a significant contribution to your scalp tenderness. It can also result in tension bumps and flaky white dry spots around your scalp.
Tension bumps are painful as well and can mirror the pain of acne that you may experience on your face or during a breakout.
#2 The Sew-In
Similar to the braid down, your stylist also tries to ensure that your tracks are secure.
Because the average sew-in should be kept in for 4 to 6 weeks, your stylist will always work to make sure that your style will last. Therefore, they will sew the weave in tight in order to eliminate the possibility of any wiggle room for the track on the extra slack in the thread.
However, this can be problematic when trying to pinpoint whether your braids or sew-ins are too tight. We'll discuss more of this later.
#3 You are not hydrated
I know this sounds crazy! But I promise you this is true! I have gone to a few specialists, and they all have suggested to stay away from tension and to drink a lot of water.
A dehydrated scalp can stop the production of natural oils in your scalp and lead to a dry, itchy scalp. Unfortunately, adding a weave and subjecting your scalp to tension, pulling, and wefts can aggravate your scalp even more.
This irritation can take the situation from bad to worse. It can cause your dry, itchy scalp to now be inflamed and sore to the touch.
The one thing you can do to avoid this painful experience is to speak up! Many clients are scared to speak up and tell their stylist when they feel pain during their install. You may think this is normal but it can be very harmful for your scalp.
Some hairstylists are heavy-handed and braid way too tight. By simply speaking up you could make a huge difference in your hairstyle and most importantly scalp health.
If you are experiencing a scalp pain or soreness that causes discomfort, your sew-in installation wasn't correct. It was not installed with your scalp and hair care in mind. This can be due to your stylist being solely focused on installing your weave and creating your final look.
Sometimes they can be oblivious to how tight they are braiding, sewing, or pulling. Don't be afraid to let your stylist know that it's too tight and they need to loosen up their technique.
You have to say something while they are in the process of styling your hair. That means you should also say something if you are experiencing pain during the sewing part of the process.
Let them know that they can braid your hairless tightly and give the thread slacker and a little less tension when knotting at the end. Instead, you could have them cut a few stitches that they have reinforced numerous times.
Speak up as soon as possible. Once the service is complete, they will be less likely to want to take down all of their hard work to re-do it.
Beauty is Pain
When I started getting sew-ins back to back, I let my stylist know that the weave was entirely too tight around my edges. When it was all said and done we both narrowed it down to her braiding technique.
The next few times that I went back to get a full sew-in, she would braid my hair and then wet the braids in the sink and have me sit under the dryer to get the initial dampness out.
While this technique of adding moisture to engorge and loosen my braid down did feel great on my scalp, it was a waste of time because the soreness and pulling were coming from the sewing process of the install.
When my stylist tried to create a flat look around my edges, she would pull so tight at the thread that I would develop white tension bumps. It wasn’t until I realized that my edges were thinning that I made a serious effort to caution her when she started to sew near my temples. This is why it is so important that your hairstylist knows how to loosen tight braids under a sew-in.
Many people do not realize this until it is too late, but over time a series of extremely tight sew-ins can lead to breakage or things that are even worse.
Things like permanent damage to the hair follicle, or traction alopecia are also hazards of a tight sew-in. Even though the majority of us focus on leaving our edges out of our sew-ins, the crown area of our scalp can also go through a lot of damage when wearing hair extensions.
Will My Hair Extensions Stop Hurting?
A lot of women use the sew-in as a protective style to keep their hair protected from the elements. Little do they realize, hair extensions can be a harmful element in and of itself if not installed correctly.
To alleviate tension from an improperly installed sew-in, here are a few things that you can do to:
#1 Apply an Oil
These oils have anti-inflammatory properties that can ease the irritation and treat any sores that you may have.
Remember to use these oils only three times a week at most to avoid any negative effects.
#2 Apply a steaming towel to your scalp
Moisture is your friend!
If you can loosen the weave up and manipulate the tracks, you will reduce a lot of your pain.
Water helps to create slippage amongst the extensions and thread so you will be able to move it around more.
The steam will allow you to massage your scalp more and increase movement on the tracks as well.
#4 Cut some of the threads
Another way to ease the pain of tight sew-in extensions is to cut off some threads. Be very strategic about this step. I have cut threads and ended up with a few tracks bobby-pinned into my braids. You also don't want to mistakenly cut your hair, that could be tragic.
You should always cut the stitches around the areas with tension and proceed to pull or feel around the area in which you cut.
Meaning, after you cut one stitch lightly poke around the area to ensure that section of the track is still apart of you sew-in before you cut another thread. Doing these things afterward as precautions can help you avoid any minor or major unwanted mishaps.
#4 Go back to your stylist
Sometimes the pain is so unbearable that you may have to go back to your stylist to get a redo. Now of course it is best if you speak up while your hair is actually being done. It is easier to correct a hurtful sew-in while it is being done at first notice and this is what is most convenient for both you and the stylist.
If you paid $250 for a style that is unbearable, it's your right to have it corrected professionally for free. Your stylist should know how to loosen a sew-in.
Now of course you want to be nice when asking for this service. Explain to them the problem, show them what is going on, and ask them what they can do.
If they are a good stylist then their customers come first to them and they will want you to be satisfied.
Learn to Be Painlessly Beautiful
Private Label Extensions has beautiful hair textures in various lengths that we are sure you want to invest in!
Investing in this hair means you can wear it comfortably, knowing the health of your scalp isn't in jeopardy.
Review these tips and share additional suggestions in the comments below on how you have been able to get past extreme scalp pain.