First of all, it’s important to note that not all weaves are meant to be washed. For example, synthetic weaves cannot be washed at all; authentic human hair weaves can typically only be washed once or twice, and virgin hair (AKA Indian, Peruvian or Brazilian) can be washed almost indefinitely-- if you know how to do it right.
Weaves take more care than your natural hair because they lack the ability to naturally repair damage—and if you want to know how to care for your weave, read on!
Regardless of what kind of weave you have, you must be gentle when washing your hair as weaves can’t withstand as much shampooing and rinsing cycles as regular hair—if you have a weave, you should only wash your hair every 7-10 days.
Use a gentle shampoo for dry Black hair and be careful not to scrub, as this can tangle and mat your hair. It’s also important to choose a shampoo that is free of heavy ingredients, like silicon, that can cause build-up.
Now, since you want to treat your weave more gently than your natural hair, blow-drying is not always the best option—it’s best to let it air dry. If you are in a pinch and must use a hairdryer, start by aiming the nozzle at the wefts, to make sure they dry first.
Make sure your weaves are completely dry before you go to sleep or leave the house—if they remain damp, your locks will start to smell unpleasant.
Also, you have to be careful about teasing your hair, since once your weave is tangled, it can be very difficult (or even impossible) to de-tangle.
While it’s important to care for your weave, it’s also important to take care of your real hair—and there are some products out there that are healthy for both.
Natural oils are especially helpful, because your weave lacks the oils from your scalp—they can help to make your natural hair shiny while also extending the life of your weave. For example, for women of color, emu oil (derived from the Australian flightless birds of the same name) is great for retaining moisture in dry and/or brittle hair. It can work very well as a great skin product, too—especially if you have skin condition like eczema or psoriasis.
Argan oil is another great, natural option. Like emu oil, it helps seal moisture into your hair, keeping it soft and shiny. Argan oil is something of a wonder product—it has all of the celebrities raving. It’s great for keeping dry, frizzy hair under control.
You can even care for your weave as you sleep! As with your natural hair, silk pillowcases are the most gentle—they can help prevent breakage, frizziness and tangling. You can even take it a step further and wrap your hair in a silk scarf before turning in for the night.
Weaves can take a little extra maintenance, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting one if that’s what you want! If you follow these tips, your weave should stay healthy and shiny for months.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Southern California and founder of Gryffin Media whose writing covers everything from health and beauty, to technology and gaming, to business and marketing. She maintains her healthy locks by using all-natural products.