Braiding your hair down is the first step in a flawless sew-in installation. And if you knew that already, you’re a step ahead of many. But before you get started, you need to determine how exactly you should braid. There are many sew-in braid patterns to choose from, and you should know about all of them in order to get the sew-in results you’re going for.
In this article, we’ll explain the importance of sew-in braid patterns, introduce you to some of the best braid patterns for sew-ins, and give you tips on how to decide which pattern to use.
Why Your Braid Pattern Matters
When it comes to cornrowing your hair for a sew-in, braids are the foundation of the style. They provide the base that the extensions are sewn onto and determine how your hair will lay. Each braid pattern has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses that affects your style and the health of your hair.
Your braiding pattern can strategically distribute tension, so sensitive areas like your edges are protected. You can also cover sensitive or thinning areas by switching up the placement of your braids. Selecting the correct pattern helps ensure your sew-in lays flat, and that you’ll be able to part your hair the way you want.
5 Sew-In Braid Patterns You Should Know About
Your braid pattern can make or break your sew-in. So, it’s important to know about the options available to you. Below, you’ll find a few of the best braid patterns for sew-ins.
The vixen is a braiding pattern that has recently exploded in popularity because of its extreme versatility. This pattern has multiple leave-out areas, which gives you the freedom to part your hair in more ways than most other braiding patterns. While this style provides you with the most versatility, it is not as protective due to how much of your natural hair is left out.
The 4-way vixen braid down is relatively complicated, requiring your hair to be split into 4 equal sections, with a band of leave-out separating each quadrant. The hair inside of each section is braided into a spiral, and wefts of hair are sewn onto the cornrows. Your leave-out is then styled to cover the tracks.
Another popular braiding pattern is the zig-zag. In this method, your hair is cornrowed into rows that go back and forth across your scalp in a horizontal orientation. When sectioned correctly, this method is perfect for any style with multiple layers. You can also switch up your part by tweaking the location of the zig-zags.
Straight-Back Without Leave-Out
This is one of the most straightforward braiding patterns and is perfect for beginners. You simply cornrow your hair from front to back in medium-sized rows. The ends of the braids are then secured and flattened via crocheting or sewing. Because your hair is safely tucked away, this pattern is perfect for anyone who uses sew-ins as a protective style.
The diagonal pattern is a simple style similar to the straight-back method. But instead of going straight back, your hair takes on a diagonal angle. You or your stylist can do it with or without a leave-out, depending on how protective you want your style to be. This pattern works well with hairstyles involving swooped bangs or parts that sit at an angle.
One of the most common braid patterns is the beehive. Cornrows are braided around the entire head in a spiral that ends in the middle of the head. The one downside of this method is that the sew-in options are limited. You won't be able to part your hair or have any leave-out. Still, this pattern is perfect for hairstyles featuring bangs.
The braid patterns we’ve mentioned above are the perfect base for a sew-in, crochet style, or wig.
How To Choose A Braid Pattern
When deciding which braid pattern to choose, consider the following:
- How you want to part and style your hair. If you won’t be parting your sew-in at all, you can go with the beehive, straight-back, diagonal, or zig-zag braiding pattern. For flexibility in parting, go for the 4-way vixen.
- Whether there are any weak areas you want to protect. If your hair is weak and breaking around your hairline, avoid the straight back braiding pattern. Instead, go for the diagonal, beehive, or zig-zag pattern. These won't place too much tension on your hairline. In addition, if your natural hair needs a break from styling, consider a braid pattern without a leave-out. Though leave-outs enable your style to look more natural, repeated styling of that section of hair puts a lot of stress on your strands and increases your risk of breakage.
- Your braiding ability. If you’re new to braiding your hair, you should start out with an easy pattern, like the straight back pattern. After you get the hang of the simple patterns, you can graduate to creating more intricate braiding designs.
Tips For Braiding Your Hair For A Sew-In
Now that you have an idea of just how vital braid patterns are and the pattern options you have, let’s move onto some best practices. Keep the below tips in mind to keep your hair healthy and your sew-in looking its best.
- Cleanse and condition - Make sure you wash, condition, and deep condition your hair before you start braiding. By doing so, your hair will be fit enough to handle the braiding process and able to retain moisture until your sew-in is removed.
- Braid as flat as possible - A bulky base will leave your sew-in looking lumpy and unnatural. By braiding as close as possible to the scalp, you can keep your sew-in looking smooth and flat.
- Trim your ends before braiding - Damaged ends cause tangles that slow down the braiding process and increase breakage. Besides, braiding your hair immediately after you trim it helps ease some of the anxiety haircuts can cause. By the time you take your sew-in out, your hair will grow and replace the missing length.
- Add in synthetic hair as you braid - When braiding your hair for a sew-in, you can add braiding hair to your natural locks. This extra hair helps relieve some of the tension put on your strands and helps to add structure to the braids, making them stronger. They can also help prevent hair loss. We advise against adding synthetic hair if your natural hair is extremely fine or actively breaking.
- Make sure your braids aren’t too tight - In addition to being extremely uncomfortable, tight braids can have serious consequences. Braids that are too tight can result in thinning strands and traction alopecia. For the best results, your braids should be secure but not so tight that they cause you discomfort.
If you’re looking for a new hairdo, we can't recommend wigs enough! They offer unparalleled styling versatility and last much longer than a sew-in. They also protect your natural hair so that it can grow longer and stronger. We hope that this article has been helpful to you and encourage you to have fun with your hair above all else!