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I’ve always maintained the belief that my hair is one of my many fashion accessories. The style I choose to wear it in is dependent on how I feel. I can wear braids, real hair, fake hair, natural, or relaxed—whatever floats my boat really. However, I am a real stickler when it comes to hair care. There’s no way I’m going to spend an arm and a leg on hair that is not mine and not know how to care for what grows from my head.

Last spring I received a phone call from a dear friend (we will call her Bre) about a major episode she was having with her hair. Thinking back, it’s hilarious, but at the time it was no laughing matter. The phone call went something like this:

Bre: OMG Vik (my middle name) I just took out my weave after three months and my hair feels like dreads!

Me: Wait, why was your weave in for three…

Bre: *panicked*…. after I took out all the tracks, my hair was so dry! I didn’t comb it or anything; I just went into the shower to wash it. OMG I’m seriously about to go to the barbershop and have them shave it all off Vik!!

There was more to the conversation but I believe the point is clear. The truth is everyone has experienced self-inflicted mishaps with their hair at one point or another and I am yet to meet a black woman who was born with the understanding of how to care for her hair. In fact, most of us were raised with myths that still prevail today. Oh, and for the record, Bre knows much better now.

So let’s talk about what went wrong:

1. Leaving the weave in for three months – Sew-ins are effective as protective and low manipulation styling, but don’t forget about your hair. If you go bald what exactly will you have to sew on to?

I’m not a frequent “sewer-inner”, but if I decide to get one, it stays no longer than four weeks in my hair. I know girls who successfully leave their weaves in longer, but that’s my limit.

Before the sew-in is installed, I make sure that I do a protein treatment and a deep condition. I also moisturize and seal my hair to avoid brittleness. As far as washes go, I continue with my weekly washing. Depending on how far apart your tracks are sewn in, you might be able to reach your scalp (try shampooing using an applicator bottle). The same goes with moisturizing your cornrows under the weave.  If there is enough space between your tracks, you should be able to get some moisture in.

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