Choosing the best way to add length or thickness to your hair can be a difficult decision. It can feel overwhelming trying to figure out what extensions will have the best colour, length, texture and overall best fit for you.
If you have been wearing weaves for a while but have been curious about trying clip-ins, we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons to help you determine the best fit for you and your locks.
What Is a Weave?
Weaves are either artificial or natural hair extensions that are fastened onto your own hair, usually through sewing or glueing. Typically, the wearer’s real hair is prepped underneath, cornrowed, with the weave then attached. Believe it or not, the earliest appearance of the use of weaves dates back to around 3400 BC in ancient Egypt, where people began the practice of dying human and sheep wool, which they attached to their heads using beeswax and resin. Cleopatra was one of the most prominent figures of the ancient world, who was renowned world-wide for her famous peacock blue weave!
Today, weaves are one of the most popular types of hair extensions for black women and those with kinky, coily hair. Due to weaves being securely fastened to the head, they can last over several weeks or months without being removed, making it an appealing option for women looking for long-term wear.
What Are Clip-Ins?
Clip-in hair extensions can create a similar look to weaves after application but are much quicker and easier to install, they require no long-term bonding, adhesive or sewing, and are fastened to your natural hair with clips. They come in one or multiple pieces, often called wefts, which vary in width. They can be installed and removed in literally a matter of seconds and are often considered the most affordable way to add volume and length to your hair, due to their economical cost and ability to be easily reused.
Although clip-in extensions mimicking straight hair textures have been popular since the 1950s, clip-in extensions for kinky, coily hair are still relatively new in comparison and have gained recognition more recently since their rise in popularity in the last two decades.
Pros of Weaves as a Protective Style
- Add Length and Volume
Wearing a weave is a fast way of discretely adding more length or volume to your hair. Whether your hair is natural or relaxed, you can find a sew-in weave that suits you. They can be glued in or sewn-in, with the latter usually lasting longer.
Weaves can help to add volume where you need it or length where you want it. If you’re recovering from any thinning or breakage, with a weave you can transform your style from short to long, or thin to thick almost immediately, without having to wait for your hair to grow out.
- They Are Very Low Maintenance
Once installed weaves are relatively low maintenance, you can wash them along with your natural hair, and they generally don’t require any intensive upkeep. You can put your weave through the same hair regime as your normal hair, which, depending on the quality and type of hair used, can keep your weave looking fresh and pristine for several weeks.
- Protective Style
Another great benefit of sew-in weaves is that they have the ability to help grow your hair out. It’s not uncommon for people to have difficultly growing their hair, especially when we’re putting our hair through frequent styling with heat tools, chemicals or abrasive styles. Weaves allow you the opportunity to give your hair a break from styling damage, whilst your natural hair grows beneath.
- Gives You Styling Options
Weaves can give you a diverse set of styling options, without the worry of potentially harming your natural hair. You’re much more easily able to curl, straighten or colour your hair without the worry of damaging your real hair.
Cons of Weave as a Protective Style
- Can be expensive
It’s no secret that the cost of getting your hair done can add up. Depending on if you’re getting a half sew-in or a full one, you may need 3-5 packs of hair. It’s not unusual for premium Remy human hair for weaves to average £80-£100 per pack, and again, this doesn’t even include the cost of paying a professional to install your weave for you,l which can easily tack on another £200!
- Less Access to Your Hair and Scalp
The application of a sew-in often requires a large portion of your natural hair being cornrowed off. This can make it more difficult to access your hair and scalp for washing and treatment, which can potentially cause further dryness and breakage if you’re not careful.
- Long Term Use Can Cause Damage to Your Hair
With repeated and long term wear weave can also begin to thin and damage the hair, often the tension and pulling from the cornrows on what are often sensitive areas (nape and edges) can lead to alopecia and breakage.
- Requires Professional Install
We’ve all had an unexpected bill come through and delayed a hair appointment a few weeks longer than we should do. If you’re not extremely hair savvy you’ll often need to rely on a professional to do your installs, this can be pricey and when left too long can lead to an itchy scalp and dandruff, as well as increase the likelihood for alopecia and breakage.
Pros of Natural Hair Curly and Afro Clip-ins
- Quick and Easy to Install
Clip-ins are unrivalled when it comes to speed and ease of application, they require no specialist technique and can be installed and removed in a matter of minutes. This means that after the cost of the clip-ins there is no additional cost for installation or removal.
- Doesn’t Cause Damage to Your Hair
Clip-ins don’t cause nearly as much tension on your hair as weaving does. The clips are lightweight and can be positioned strategically to ensure minimal tugging with sensitive areas of the hair.
- Allows Flexibility and Freedom With Your Styling Options
Due to the minimal effort and time required to install and remove clip-ins you have far more flexibility and freedom to experiment with your styling options. Whether you want to have an up-do one week or straight style down another, this can be achieved with a simple rearranging of clips.
Whereas with weaves you tend to be more restricted in terms of styling, changing your parting or have your hair in an updo can be difficult to achieve with a weave due to the rigidity of wefts being sewed onto your cornrows. Indeed, you might have to change your entire cornrow pattern underneath to merely change your part, as opposed to clip-ins where this can be done within a few snaps.
- Easy to Look After Your Own Hair
Clip-ins give you the freedom to access your own hair as much as you like. You can style your clip-ins similarly to how you would style your weave, but with the added benefit of being able to access your own hair as much as you like. It’s a great protective style that offers you the ability to still treat and care for your natural hair as you regularly would.
- More Affordable
There’s no doubt who the winner is when it comes to affordability, even without the service cost of weave installation, clip-ins often come in cheaper per gram of hair. Clip-ins tend to last much longer in terms of reusability than weaves. Since removing weave to ensure it can be reused again can be quite a finicky process.
- Great for Special Occasions or Events
If you’re someone who has a hard time with commitment when it comes to styles, clip-ins will be your best friend! If you’re only looking for length or volume for a special occasion or event clip-ins are your best bet. They’re low commitment, and you have no obligation to keep them in for a prolonged period of time.
Cons of Natural Hair Curly and Afro Clip-ins
- There Can Be a Learning Curve
If you’re used to wearing full-head weaves or not having your natural hair out, it can be a learning curve getting used to wearing clip-ins. They require more handling of your real hair in order to blend them, than you otherwise would need with a full sew-in or wig, for example.
- Your Hair Has to Be Long Enough to Apply Them
You’ll need to have at least 2-3 inches of hair in order to cover the clips, for women who have recently undergone a big chop this might rule clip-ins out for you until your hair has grown out a bit more.
- Not Suitable for Thin and Damaged Hair
Clip-ins and all hair extensions that need to be applied directly against the hair or scalp should be avoided if you have very dry or damaged hair, any further tugging, tension or intense styling on such hair can further exacerbate the problem and focus should be on returning the hair to a healthy state before any extension applications are done.
- Have to Be Removed at the End of the Day
Clip-ins will have to be taken out at the end of the day before bed to prevent tugging or snagging on your hair follicles. Although falling asleep once or twice with your clip-ins still in isn’t the end of the world, we still recommend removing them so as to discourage any potential damage to your hair.
Now that you have the pros and cons of each, how do you decide which ones to choose?
Well, it depends on your lifestyle, hair goals, motivations and price point. For instance, if you want a one-off styling option for a special occasion like a wedding or if you want a long term protective style with more flexibility and that allows quick access to your hair so as to achieve hair goals then clip-ins are your best bet.
If you are busy and don’t have time to look after your natural hair and are looking for the most low maintenance protective style, then weaves might be your go-to choice.
Whichever protective style you choose, it’s important to cultivate a solid hair care routine as looking after your real hair while in these styles is essential for keeping your hair strong and healthy.