Beauty Booty: My First Weave

by Rachel on October 24, 2011

About six weeks ago, I made a major change to my appearance — I got extensions put in my hair!

People are always curious about my hair and this change has been the source of even more questions than usual. So if you’ve always wanted to know more about black women and weaves…you’ve probably come to the wrong place! To be honest, I didn’t/don’t really understand all the intricacies of black hair or black fake hair or even half-black fake hair. (This is what happens when you are only half-black…you not only have weird hybrid hair but you also have to deal with the fact that there is no one in your life who knows the first thing about it.) But I can at least tell you what my experience was like!

The Long Road to Long Hair

As I’ve explained before, my hair has been a source of stress my entire life. I’ve been getting relaxers every two months since I was eight years old and despite trying different shampoos, conditioners, and many other products/methods (including a Brazilian keratin treatment this summer), the best it’s ever gotten is just…manageable. In the past few years, I’ve gotten to a point where I can deal with it. I don’t love it — I want it to be longer, easier to style, etc. — but I can deal with it. I’m used to planning around it.

When I was younger, I didn’t understand that all black celebrities have weaves and I couldn’t understand why my hair never looked long and pretty like theirs. When I discovered this fact, I wanted a weave too. My hair just doesn’t seem capable of growing very long. Even when I’m doing everything right and it’s really healthy, it just never seems to get past a certain length. (All hair does this, by the way.) When my hair grows, it just seems to grow up and out, forming a round, puffy halo around my head, so that I often felt like a magic mushroom a là Super Mario Brothers.

I’d talked to two of my past stylists about getting some sort of extensions put in. My stylist in Michigan said she could do short-term extensions that would last a few weeks. Well, that wasn’t really what I wanted. A couple years later, I asked my stylist at Ted Gibson salon in NYC about it; she had the most amazing thick, long weave that just looked so good. She told me the hair would cost about $600-$800 and then it cost $200 per hour to have it sewn in…and it would take a couple hours. And it would have to be re-done every few months.

As much as my hair is a pain in the ass, I just can’t drop thousands of dollars a year on perfect hair. As time went on, though, the outrageous price I’d been given really bothered me. I’d see black women and girls with weaves all the time and they didn’t appear to be rich. How did everyone have these extra thousands of dollars in their budgets for fake hair? Was I just not prioritizing properly? Seriously, how were they doing it?

I just assumed I was never going to be able to have a weave, at least not until I got a sugar daddy, so I didn’t even mention it to my new stylist in Houston.

Then I got that stupid Brazilian keratin treatment and even after I got my hair relaxed again, I was just over it. My hair grew really fast over the summer so I needed a relaxer again after six weeks, not my typical eight. I hate getting relaxers and I hate paying for them, so when I realized I was now entering dangerous territory, I was kind of over it. Like maybe-I-can-just-wear-wigs-a-lot-of-black-women-like-Oprah-wear-wigs-right? over it.

I mentioned this frustration to my stylist, Kim, as I was getting my relaxer in August and then I asked her about weaves. I didn’t really know what I was even asking. Luckily, Kim  has a half-white daughter, so she really gets my hair and my general ignorance about my hair.

Kim was actually really excited; she told me that she’d always wanted to put a weave in for me but she didn’t think I wanted one. I didn’t want to get my hopes up for no good reason so I asked her how much it cost, fully expecting that she’d need $2000 and the blood of my first-born child. Instead she told me that it wouldn’t be that expensive — about $100 for the hair and $150 for her to sew it in.

Hmmmm.

From there, I asked a ton of questions, expecting to finally figure out the catch, but as she answered them all, I realized…there wasn’t one.

  • To put in the weave, she’d put the majority of my hair in tiny braids. Then she’d sew the weave — real human hair — to the braids. Some of my natural hair would be left out.
  • While I had the weave, I would only have to relax the part of my hair that was left out…which would be nearly nothing. My bangs, mainly. The rest of my hair would avoid the harsh chemicals of the relaxer, as well as heat styling. So basically, the majority of my real hair would get a break.
  • The hair would last about four months, and after eight weeks, I would have her take it out and re-sew it back in.
  • The hair would be real human hair that would style exactly like my real hair does. I could curl it, twist it into a bun, put it half-up, and — because she places her braids very strategically — put it up in a decently high ponytail.

And yes, Kim told me, there was hair out there that would match my hair’s color and texture. This was the hardest part for me to believe, as I’ve never met another human being who has hair quite like mine. Not only does it have this weird texture, but it also isn’t the color most people think it is. From photos, you’d think it was really dark brown, but the reality is, it’s a light brown with a lot of natural red and gold in it. I could not believe that she’d find hair to match mine; I was convinced that I was going to come away from this with super flat, shiny hair, and then I’d have to add Asian to the ever-growing list of races people think I am.

But despite my disbelief that it would actually all work out — 20 years of trying products that never work as well as the commercial and packaging makes you think they’ll work will make you kind of cynical — I made an appointment for two weeks later.

Getting My Hair Did

When I arrived at my appointment, Kim handed me a bag containing my new hair. It was the moment of truth…and it looked exactly like my hair.

And it was only $77 (so fuck that $600-$800 quote I got in NYC)!

I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that there was another person in the world with this hair color/texture, and I really couldn’t believe that someone would think anyone else would want more hair like this. Surely, I had to be the only person in the world willing to pay money for this kind of hair!

I also couldn’t believe that in a few hours, I’d have hair that long.

Kim got started. First, she braided my hair in circles around my head; that took about an hour. Then she started sewing the hair in to the braids, literally weaving it to my head with a needle and thread. It was a slow process, about two hours, and I read on my Kindle while she did it. I could see myself in the mirror the entire time, but because she started at the nape of my neck and worked toward the top of my head, I couldn’t really visualize how it would look when it was all finished. After all the hair was sewn in, she cut it into nice layers and then went over it with a flat iron.

Approximately four hours after she began, I looked like black Barbie.

Seriously, I was speechless. My hair was like movie-star hair. It just looked fabulous and even though I was in yoga pants and a tank top without any make-up on, I felt more glamorous than I’d ever felt in my life.

HOLY SHIT. I was so excited.

I walked out, not quite used to it yet. I am just not used to having hair that moves. My hair is the perfect example of Newton’s First Law — when it is at rest (or really, in any position), it stays that way. I don’t own hairspray. If it’s in a ponytail, I don’t have to redo it throughout the day. It just stays put until acted upon by an outside force (mainly water). Now, though…now it swung.

I loved it. I snapped this picture on my phone in the car and texted it to my friends and family. These are the people who have known me — and my hair — for years and through so many bad hair moments were all so excited  for me.

When I got home, Eric was sleeping on the couch. He had been against the weave whole thing; he just didn’t really see the point (“Your hair is fine”) and I think he thought it was going to look really fake and cheesy. I leaned over him and woke him up.

“Wow,” he said. “Wow.”

It was good wow, not bad wow.

My coworkers — mostly male; there is only one other woman in my office — loved it too. (They are like family, so it’s not weird for them to tell me they really like my hair.) And they have told me repeatedly that they like it — oftentimes out-of-the-blue, weeks after I had it done, so I know they mean it.

And I love it.

It’s…Full of Secrets!

My hair will never be without hassle, not even when it’s not my real hair.

The first downside came after a few days when I found my hair getting super tangled. I have never had to deal with snarls in my hair — like I said, it doesn’t move — so the little knots that started appearing frequently in my hair really confused me. After a couple days of trying to work them out with a comb/my fingers, I realized…I need a brush. Then I realized I had no clue what sort of brush to buy; I never brush my hair and don’t know the first thing about it. I stood in front of all the brushes at Target for 10 minutes trying to figure out what I needed. Eventually I chose one that has become my new hair’s BFF. I brush it a few times a day which is so new to me.

Overall, I love the new hair and will probably continue to keep doing it for a long time. In terms of management, it’s pretty simple. I get up, brush it, and curl the ends under with a fat curling iron. I’ve been sleeping with a satin sleep cap on, which makes a huge difference in how it looks in the morning. I can put it up or do fun things with it, but I don’t very often, just because I don’t want to get bends in it that I’ll be stuck with because I can’t wash it very often.

I now wash my hair with water/shampoo every two weeks; on the off weeks, I just use dry shampoo. (I’m sure this sounds crazy to you if you’re white, but it’s not a big deal for me because my hair is not capable of getting greasy. Before the weave I was washing it about once a week.) I actually went three weeks without using water/shampoo this time around because my hair/scalp still felt/smelled clean, and honestly, washing it is the biggest hassle. It’s super heavy and gets even more tangled when it’s wet. I can’t twist it up in a towel or even really towel-dry it so when I do wash it, I’m stuck with dripping wet heavy hair for a few hours. I’m so glad I don’t have to do it too often.

When it comes to yoga, I just twist it in a loose bun and secure with a soft scrunchie when it’s bugging me, but I can actually get through a lot of my sessions with it down the majority of the class. Again, I know this sounds crazy to a lot of people but I’ve been working out with my hair down for a while because it makes it easier to not wash it as often and it doesn’t move. The only time it’s annoying is during inverted poses or if the class is really hot. After classes, I just brush it out, let it dry, and then re-curl it.

Speaking of inverted poses, my hair is probably most annoying during girl-on-top sex. Eric was often complaining about it falling in his face and choking him, so nowadays reaching to the nightstand for a scrunchie is kind of my new “I’m in the mood” signal.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kali Ravel October 24, 2011 at 10:52 am

XD

I love that last bit. Normally, my hair is the worst during blow jobs (I’m kind-of used to keeping it out of the way during on-top). Last time, I put it in a bun first. Not glamorous, but it got the job done!

I have white/asian hair, which I wash with baking soda and vinegar, so I can’t really relate to most of the other things you mention.

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2 Ebbs October 24, 2011 at 11:02 am

I know what you mean……I’m trying to natural thing right now (really trying not to get a relaxer but it’s calling me) and I keep debating if I just want to get a sew in weave. Reading this post is pushing more to just get it done.

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3 Savannah October 24, 2011 at 11:03 am

Hey Rachel! Congrats on finding a hair routine that works for you! You may want to try washing your hair in sections. Just section your hair into how many big sections you want and wash, rinse, condition with them in. It will help keep your hair from tangling. My hair is all natural (and of the super coily variety) and washing in sections has totally saved my hair from becoming one huge loc and hours of frustration.

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4 Rachel October 24, 2011 at 11:23 am

Cool, I will give that a try next time…thanks!

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5 Dori October 24, 2011 at 11:05 am

Taking my elastic off my wrist and putting my hair back is my bf’s signal that . . . something else that hair needs to be out of the face for is about to happen. Ha!

Your hair looks gorgeous — YOU look gorgeous — and I love the detailed description of the process. Amazing price and I am so happy you did this! That said, I CANNOT imagine how you could do Core Fusion Cardio with your hair down. I am a soaking wet dripping mess from that one.

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6 Dori October 24, 2011 at 11:06 am

OH yeah and I rarely wash my hair too. You know.

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7 Alexandra October 24, 2011 at 11:19 am

You look fab with your long hair! I love this post because I can totally relate to hair problems. My natural hair is super curly and grows painfully slow (sort of the mushroom syndrome you described) so about 6 years ago I started wearing extensions (sewn in, glued in, Jessica Simpson hair pieces, and individual clip-ins) and THERE IS NO GOING BACK. There’s something that just feels different when they flip you around in your chair, and all of a sudden you have long silky manageable hair. It all seems sort of like My Little Pony…push a button and magically you have these beautiful cascading locks. Now I buy individual clip-ins and put them in myself, which is actually incredibly simple.

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8 Meg October 24, 2011 at 11:32 am

Your hair looks amazing! Do you know where your stylist bought the extensions from? I have really thin hair and have been dying to get extensions but they just seem so costly. Thanks!

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9 Carrie @ No More Tomorrows October 24, 2011 at 11:53 am

I really loved your hair short. However, I’m happy that you got what you wanted without having to sacrifice your first child for it. You’re beautiful no matter the length of your hair.

I’m a white girl with white girl hair. It’s wavy, so it doesn’t really curl like I want it to, but it also doesn’t stay straight for long either, especially if there’s rain. I look at black women with super tight curls in envy because that’s what I’ve always wanted, the short, tight curls that fan out and look tastefully wild. Can I get a weave like THAT?! Probably not, eh?

When I was pregnant with my son (whose father is black) I have to say one of the things I was looking forward to the most (other than, you know, having my child and loving and raising him) was his hair. I couldn’t wait for his full curly black hair. The universe had other plans for my son and he passed from this world. But I did get the chance to see him and his beautiful thick black curly hair. Other than his cute little nose, that’s one thing I remember most about him.

I guess black hair has been an obsession of mine for a long time. I’ve done a lot of reading about it and asking questions, because I know my future children won’t have my hair, and I don’t want to be the white mom who thinks I can treat their hair the way I do mine.

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10 Alexia (Dimple Snatcher) October 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm

HA, why are people always so curious about your hair? Folks are hilarious.

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11 Christie F October 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I’m curious about her hair dearie! but I’ve never been exposed to that kind of hair before. Or anyone’s hair for that matter! ha! :)

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12 Phoebe October 25, 2011 at 12:06 am

I hate my own hair so much (it’s difficult, like Rachel’s) that I am obsessed with hearing about everyone else’s hair and what they do to it. I keep on thinking I will thereby hear the one magical trick that converts my hair from miserable to awesome.

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13 Christie F October 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I’ve always had long hair and definitely gets in the way in the bedroom…. especially when I feel like giving oral. I choke on my own hair…. so I always wear a hair tie on my wrist for quick and easy up do’s

your hair looks great glad that you found something you are happy with

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14 Ella, RD October 24, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Wow, Kim sounds like absolute GOLD. Seriously, an amazing hairstylist is like… I don’t even know what to compare them to. And obviously you look fab!!

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15 Alexia (Dimple Snatcher) October 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Rachel, you NEED conk (a gentle one HAH) on the head. You should have trekked downtown or WAY uptown to ask for weaves. I’m not surprised a NYC stylist would give you Beyonce prices. SMH

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16 Rachel October 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm

HA. My one trip WAY uptown in NYC for a hair appointment was terrifying. NEVER AGAIN!

Remember, I don’t know anything about this stuff! She said $600-800 so I believed that was standard!

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17 Liz @ Southern Charm October 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm

So cool! And your hair looks amazing!!!

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18 Mel October 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Ah I think this is so interesting! Your hair really does look great – but I didn’t understand until now how its all that much better because of your “before” struggle!

I have weird, weird, serious HAIR that’s always been long, brown and thick. I can wear it curly/ wavy, straighten it or put it in a ponytail. Sometimes I get so bored of constantly having the same look (I can’t rock short hair, bangs or highlights) but I guess I can’t complain about getting to be a low-maintance haircut girl. Mostly it just confuses people. And I shed a lot. And now matter how many times I put my hair into a ponytail, it always winds up in someone’s mouth.

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19 Siyam October 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm

As as fully African-American girl with curly mixed girl hair, I know all about the hesitance to get a weave and wondering if it will match your actual texture. And since you hair changes textures about every 5-7 years, wanting a weave in high school and wanting a weave in college are two totally different beasts. Your hair looks great and now I’m excited to get mine ( although I’ll tell you, depending on where you are when you get your weave done determines the price. I’m in Vegas and including the hair, my weave will probably be around $600. Back home in Oakland, it’s like $450).

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20 Savannah October 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm

You’re getting a weave?! OMG I NEED to see it!

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21 Siyam November 24, 2011 at 12:26 am

yeah I was thinking about it….I go back and forth on maintenance vs. cost vs. time off to get that shizz done..we’re still debating lol :)

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22 Christie F October 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Hmm would dry shampoo work on white girl hair? I have awesome hair, it only needs to be washed about 2x a week… but you know, dry shampoo sounds so cool! Maybe I could cut it down to 1x a week??

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23 Rachel October 24, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Oh yeah, dry shampoo DEFINITELY works on white girls! Probably even better because it soaks up oil, which is more of a problem for white girls than black. I use TreSemme.

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24 Diane October 25, 2011 at 10:31 am

I’m a white girl with super oily hair (especially around my bangs/forehead, gross!) and dry shampoo is my savior. It used to be kind of hard to find, but you can get it at CVS now!

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25 Anna October 24, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I definitely thought “omg she looks just like black Barbie” when I saw the first 2 pics haha. Seriously. Even w/ your old hair :) I know exactly what you felt like afterwards–I felt the same way after I got a CHI (luckily that’s all it takes to make my hair semi-silky!!!) p.s. I read your neti pot post out loud to my bf after he was making fun of an ad in one of my magazines, and we both died.

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26 Liz @ iheartvegetables October 24, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Oh my gosh your hair looks AMAZING!! I had honestly always wondered about weaves, and how they worked! My man-friend is black and sometimes I try to imagine what it would be like trying to style that hair!

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27 cindylu October 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I’ve always had straight, thin hair (and a lot of it). I’m a wash and go type of girl and rarely bother styling my hair. I know that when I get to having kids (fiancé is black) I’m going to have a tons of questions of what to do with their hair. When the time comes, I foresee myself taking them to my cousin (mother of black and Mexican kids) for some quick lessons.

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28 Samantha October 26, 2011 at 12:17 am

For one black girl to a half black girl: please limit how often you get this done you will eventually end up with traction alopecia.

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29 LC October 27, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Would you ever just wear your hair naturally? Away from relaxers, weaves and pressing?

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30 Dee November 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Carrie your comment is awesome!! I actually find it sad when I hear about or see bi-racial kids whose parents choose not to educate themselves or their children on their hair. My mom is black and italian and even back in the 50’s my (white) grandma took the initiative to learn her kid’s hair. I can’t tell you how many white women who have approached me for help (my daughter’s father is Mexican and she has a head full of hair to rival Diana Ross). I appreciate those people!

I would say as someone who identifies as having “black” nappy hair, that you CAN grow your hair long (mine is past my bra strap) it just takes patience and knowledge.

To Rachel – check out curlynikki.com! :)

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31 confused November 3, 2011 at 9:45 pm

you are a very confused woman, with much self hatred. Your mother must be white. I hope you get it together. ALL Black celebrities do NOT wear weaves or wigs. Oprah does not wear a wig or weave.

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32 Elina (Healthy and Sane) November 8, 2011 at 10:27 am

You looked absolutely gorgeous before but I’m loving this new look! It’s always fun to make a change like that (when you can pull it off!) :)

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33 Elina (Healthy and Sane) November 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

Wow, the confused commenter before needs to get a life. That’s all I have to say…

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34 greenbean March 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Maybe start skipping the relaxer and let it go natural. It’s surprisingly easier to manage when you quit fitting what God gave ya. And you have thick beautiful hair. So many women are losing their hair. Love the style, btw.

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35 AJA June 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I just happened to stumble upon this today. 2 things you might want to try while your doing the weave thing: 1. Invest in “good” hair, it won’t tangle as much and ends up being cheaper at the end because you can re use it. 2. DO NOT leave your weave in for 4 months as I’m sure you have discovered that by now…I hope. 6-8 weeks max!

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36 Haley April 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm

What kind of weave is it?

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