October 6, 2022

Ella Mai with a sew-in hairstyle.

Switching up your hairstyle can be as simple as putting on a wig, or as intricate as creating a beautiful braid-down foundation for a sew-in. Simply put, “A sew-in is a type of weave,” says Geneva Fowler. You braid your natural hair into cornrows and see extensions into the cornrow braids. Usually, you leave a small amount of your natural hair out on top and in the very front to cover the tracks. (Tracks are the weft of hair extension).”

With proper care, maintenance, and the help of a seasoned stylist, sew-ins can be an excellent protective style and give you the hair of your dreams. These days the technology and hair options make it easy to leave the salon with a sew-in that looks like it sprouted from your scalp. From the leave-out technique to the lace front sew-in, there are many options that fit nearly every lifestyle. To prove it to you, we’ve rounded up a variety of sew-in options along with pro styling tips from Fowler and natural hair experts Erinn Courtney and Kamara Brown.

 

From asymmetrical bobs to cascading curls. keep scrolling for 22 sew-in hairstyles to inspire your next salon visit.

01of 22

Ombré Waves

Ombre bounce blowout sew-in
@ILOVEINDIQUE / INSTAGRAM

Ombré color gives these waves a little something extra. And if you’re on the hunt for a natural look with your own hairline, Brown says this is it. “This style looks so natural and frames the face well,” she comments. However, there’s a catch: “This can be high maintenance because your natural hair needs to be styled to keep the look intact,” adds Brown.

To get these loose waves, you’ll first need to use a curling wand. And to make them last, Brown recommends pinning them at night. Sleeping with a silk pillowcase will also help this style last longer and keep the shine, she adds.

02of 22

Sleek-Straight Bob

Sleek-straight sew-in bob
@KIRASBEAUTYBAR / INSTAGRAM

One major perk of a sew-in is that you can experiment with length even if your hair is longer than the style you’re interested in trying. So why not give this super-sleek blunt bob a go? To prevent heat styling your hair daily, wrap your hair each night and secure it with a Grace Eleyae All Silk Turban ($77).

03of 22

Voluminous Curls

Jordyn Woods voluminous curls sew-in
@KAHHSPENCE / INSTAGRAM

This bombshell curl style on Jordyn Woods is a showstopper. “The volume is beautiful and the curls create a nice shape and height,” comments Brown. She attributes its natural appeal to Woods’s hairline and part showing. “To keep the curls tight you will have to re-wand the curls a volume sharp spray can be used to keep the curls from falling and hold them in place,” she instructs.

04of 22

Ginger Bob With Side-Parted Fringe

Woman with straight, red, shoulder-length sew-in
@MADEBYJASONLAMAR / INSTAGRAM

The universally flattering lob gets an upgrade with ginger color and a side of fringe. If you’re looking for an opportunity to experiment with color, ask your colorist for a custom shade to go alongside your cut and style.

05of 22

Blown-Out Curls

Mary J. Blige long blonde curly hair
@NEALFARINAH / INSTAGRAM

Neal Farinah is a haircare giant and the mastermind behind Mary J. Blige’s look here. When it comes to sew-ins, his recommendation isn’t to purchase the most expensive bundles. Instead, he says it’s all about the foundation (aka the braid down). If you find your scalp itchy post-braid down, products like Canviiy’s Scalp Bliss Organic Serum ($20) and Luxe Therapy’s Scalp Soother ($10) can help take the itch out.

06of 22

Contemporary Curly Updo

Curly sew-in updo
@HEATFREEHAIR / INSTAGRAM

There are two things this beautiful style encompasses: a blow-out hair texture and an installation that allows for hair to be pulled up. For hair extensions that mimic the texture of your natural hair, try brands like Heat Free Hair, Big Chop Hair, and Hair for the Girls.

07of 22

Curly Wand Curls

Curly wand curls
@AMICHELLESTYLEZ / INSTAGRAM

Curls on curls on curls. “What’s flattering about this look is that the bang is super easy to wear and always looks chic,” comments Courtney. It can complement a larger forehead and/or a long neck too, she adds. And the best part? “It doesn’t require any special maintenance because all of the natural hair is braided in, so the sew-in should stand the test of time.”

08of 22

Long and Straight

Kehlani middle-parted long, straight hair
@KAHHSPENCE / INSTAGRAM

Long, glossy hair will never go out of style. Meanwhile, a start middle part is super trendy. A silk pressed sew-in will get you Kehlani’s sleek ‘do but to keep flyaways at a minimum—without making hair too oily—grab a handy dryer sheet.

09of 22

Wavy Blonde Lob

Wavy blonde lob sew-in
@JEANINESTANISLAUS / INSTAGRAM

OK. Let’s talk about this glorious blonde hair. It is fire. That’s it, that’s the caption. Getting this shade will likely require a customized color, but we say go for it. That, and the glitter eye, too.

10of 22

Textured Bob With Full Fringe

Bob with fringe sew-in
@KENYAONHAIR / INSTAGRAM

Trying on short hair doesn’t have to be permanent. A sew-in can be a great way to test a style before taking the plunge. “This hairstyle would be best for people who want to see themselves with big and voluminous hair. Also, this is great for people with 4c type hair because it matches well with their texture and doesn’t require extreme straightening,” says Courtney.

To keep this style looking its best, Courtney says it might require using rollers on hair while sleeping or in the shower.

 

11of 22

Long and Curly

Long, curly sew-in
@KENYAONHAIR / INSTAGRAM

Opting for a sew-in doesn’t mean you can’t still rock your natural hair texture. If you want to try on length or give your own hair a break, finding hair extensions close to your own hair texture is a fun, low-maintenance solution. “Filling a spray bottle with water and conditioner is a great way to refresh this style,” says Fowler.

12of 22

Silky Shoulder-Length

Wavy shoulder-length sew-in
@ILOVEINDIQUE / INSTAGRAM

Ella Mai’s silky, shoulder-length style sew-in is a seamless everyday look. “It has the perfect amount of leave-out which gives it a flat and natural hairline, unlike a lace front wig,” notes Courtney. If you can’t usually pull off full weaves or lace fronts because they look unnatural on you, she suggests trying this sew-in. “The styling objective is to make the leave outmatch the sew-in by flat ironing or hot combing the hair straight,” says Courtney.

13of 22

Blonde Bob

Sleek-straight blonde sew-in
@LONDONLAIDIT / INSTAGRAM

Bobs are timeless and the golden color of this one really makes the look pop. “It’s classic, elegant, and very low maintenance,” says Fowler. And although it’s a quick weave, it can be duplicated with a sew-in with a little leave out. To keep it looking fresh, “Just remember to wrap your hair each night and lay your edges each morning,” notes Fowler.

14of 22

Voluminous Blowout

Straight, voluminous blowout sew-in
@ITSL0REN / INSTAGRAM

To rock a luscious blowout and gorgeous curls, opt for a sew-in style that can do both. And don’t forget to deep condition and use a heat protectant, because human hair extensions can get split ends, too.

15of 22

Side-Parted Deep Waves

Side-parted long wavy sew-in
@CLAIRESULMERS / INSTAGRAM

Side parts and bountiful waves are a fan favorite, and we see why. Claire Sulmers’s deep-hued hair is fun, voluminous, and perfectly frames her face. Fowler admits deep waves are one of her preferred sew-in styles. Why? “You typically don’t even have to re-curl [the] hair, it just stays in that beautiful pattern.”

16of 22

Asymmetrical Bob

Ryan Destiny sleek asymmetrical bob sew-in
@ILOVEINDIQUE / INSTAGRAM

Ryan Destiny knows how to switch things up. Replicating her asymmetrical bob—A-line on one side and blunt on the other—is possible with a sew-in, no matter your hair length. It’s dramatic, sophisticated, and classic, all at the same time.

17of 22

Voluminous Natural Curls

Voluminous textured sew-in
@BLACKASEVERHOWEVER / INSTAGRAM

A sew-in doesn’t only mean straight hair. Here, Andrea Lynette shows us just that. To style, use a hair pick to lift hair up without damaging your curls. Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross Hair Pick ($9) will get the job done.

18of 22

Billowing Curls

Shiny voluminous curls sew-in
@NINAMONIQUEHAIR / INSTAGRAM

There really isn’t much to say about this style other than wow. “I love a long curly sew-in. It’s beautiful and great for people who like big hair or just don’t want to straighten their leave out,” says Fowler. If you have long hair but want to add volume while leaving out some of your own hair, ask your stylist about a partial sew-in. “Pin curling and setting your hair in a bonnet or silk wrap will keep your hair protected,” adds Brown.

19of 22

Natural Mid-Length Curls

Natural curls sew-in
@AFRICAMIRANDA / INSTAGRAM

Ready to give your natural hair a break with a protective style but still want to rock your natural curls? Find a hair option close to your curl pattern and go for it. Strategic layering, lots of volume, and deep conditioning weekly—with something like Ouidad Curl Immersion Triple Treat Deep Conditioner, $38—will keep this sew-in looking as light as air.

20of 22

Natural Blowout

Natural blown-out curls sew-in
@MARJON_CARLOS / INSTAGRAM

With a sew-in that mimics a natural hair blowout, braid the hair down the night before and unbraid the next morning—or a couple of days later—to get this beautiful texture. “And a pro tip is don’t forget to detangle, it’s still curly hair so if you neglect to detangle and moisturize you might end up with dread locs (true story!),” comments Fowler.

21of 22

Textured Updo

Textured sew-in updo
@ILOVEINDIQUE / INSTAGRAM

If you’ve been wondering whether you can wear your hair up with a sew-in, the answer is “yes,” on one condition: Talk with your stylist before installation to ensure they give you a braid down that makes variety easy. This will also prevent any track marks from showing.

22of 22

Voluminous Curly Lob

Curly lob sew-in
@RAWWINTUITION / INSTAGRAM

This curly sew-in is statement-making and low-maintenance—although wash-and-gos and moisturizing products are needed to maintain the style, notes Brown. “It looks natural and the color is a nice subtle touch that pops in the sun,” she says. Brown encourages those with 4a to 4c texture to have fun with this look; it’s not meant to be perfect. “Some days the curls won’t be defined and that’s okay!”

FAQ
  • How do you sew in hair extensions?

    “A sew-in is when your natural hair is braided down into a braid pattern of choice so that the extension of your sew-in will have a base to attach itself. You will then use a thread and needle to sew down the hair extensions on your braid,” Brown tells us. This process can be quite long, sometimes upwards of four to six hours.

  • How do you wash your hair under a sew-in weave?

    It’s recommended that you go back to see your stylist every two weeks to get a proper wash. If you work out or have an active lifestyle, washing your hair once a week is best to prevent buildup, and it’s also possible to do at home. Just be sure to use a gentle shampoo and conditioner and carefully comb the product throughout your extensions.

  • How much do sew-in hair extensions cost?

    The cost of a sew-in can vary depending on your location and your stylist. Some may see prices around $100 for the install, while others may be looking at $500 or more. You also have to consider the cost of the actual hair extensions, which can tack on another few hundred dollars.

  • How long do sew-in hair extensions last?

    Sew-in hair extensions can typically last you around six to eight weeks. Be sure to avoid going past that time frame to prevent damage to your natural hair.