How to Take Out Your Weave Without Accidentally Chopping Off Your Hair

This is Winging It, where we're helping you master your favorite salon treatments and looks without having to leave the house.

Smiling person with their hands on their head
Photo: Jimena Roquero/Stocksy

So you decided to get a sew-in to switch up your look, grow out your natural hair, cut down on your styling time — or all of the above. Post-install, you're basking in the glory of your fresh style, kissing bad hair days goodbye. However, flash forward eight weeks later and you're noticing that your once-fresh weave is feeling — and maybe even smelling — anything but; meaning: it's time to take it out. While you may be inclined to head to the salon to see your trusted stylist for this task, it is possible to take out your sew-in all by yourself.

To prove it to you, we spoke with none other than celebrity hairstylist Nai'vasha (you've seen her hair magic on Tracee Ellis Ross and Nathalie Emmanuel), to give you step-by-step tips on how to safely take out your sew-in without accidentally chopping off a chunk of your own hair. Because the last thing any of us needs right now is a hair tragedy.

All of her best tricks, ahead.

How to Prepare

You'll need a few supplies — not to mention, great lighting — to avoid any hair mishaps and effectively remove your sew-in.

  • Basic scissors (you should avoid cutting sheers, but anything that can cut through thread is fine)
  • Paddle brush
  • Alligator clips
  • Mirror
  • Cleanser
  • Detangling conditioner
  • Deep conditioner

How to Remove Your Weave

Depending on the amount of leave out you have, or how many tracks were installed, starting at the nape of your neck increases the chances that you'll accidentally cut off your own hair, which is why you should avoid doing this at all costs. "When removing your weave on your own, you should always start at the top [of your head] and edges," Nai'vasha stresses. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Twist your leave out into Bantu knots, to avoid mixing it up with your extensions, then secure it at the top of your head with the clips. If you have a closure, use the clips to instead separate your hair from the closure, then slide one end of the scissors underneath the knots and gently pull, then snip.
  2. When it comes to the tracks, you want to follow a similar method. First, examine the top of the extension (aka the weft) to identify where the thread is. Once you've found it, slowly slide your scissors underneath, being careful to not catch any hair, then gently tug and snip away until the track is loose.
  3. Repeat these steps, layer by layer, until your extensions are completely out. For the back of your head, or any hard-to-see areas, use a mirror or two to help you out.

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"Now that the extensions are out, begin unbraiding the hair in the direction of the pattern," says Nai'Vasha. You should also be mindful that as you're taking out your braids, more thread may come out, which oftentimes can resemble your actual hair — so don't panic. And while, yes, your weave braids may look like some of Allen Iverson's most complicated plaits, they won't be any harder to unravel than regular straightbacks.

Now, chances are your hair will have a few more knots than usual. "Gently detangle the hair in sections, brushing from ends to roots thoroughly," instructs Nai'vasha. "Then saturate the hair with Emerge It's Knot Happening Sulfate-Free Shampoo for a deep conditioning cleansing." Once you've rinsed out your shampoo, apply your favorite deep conditioner, put your hair in a shower cap, and let the product sit in your hair for around an hour or so.

Tips for Reusing Extensions

If you used high-quality human hair (and sometimes synthetic), then typically you can use your extensions again. Just make sure to wash, condition, and detangle the hair, then lay it flat to dry. But if you're noticing that your extensions are looking straggly, or they're severely matted and damaged, it's definitely time to part ways.

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