I’ve been meaning, for many years, to create a tutorial about how I choose to install and wear my extensions. It’s changed quite a lot over the years, so I’ll start with my most recent way and move backward from there. First, you’ll need to check out this head chart to understand what the heck I’m talking about:
The crosshatch areas represent where my head is shaved. It’s just about even with where my ears connect to my head shaved up to where my hair becomes thick, near the temples. I decided a few years back to shave in my sides; a major reason being that I have a bald spot the size of a silver dollar just above my right temple. I couldn’t install dreads to my hairline for that reason and it was very visible when wearing my natural hair in a ponytail. So now, when I shave my sides, I simply let alone the hair just above the bald spot so that it is longer and covers the bald spot. Anyways, if you don’t have shaved sides, that’s okay. Just create more sections with that hair.
Let me say first that this is NOT the bricklayer hair sectioning. I never found that style suited me the few times I tried it, and it’s awkward for pigtails when wearing DE. Also I ONLY wear DE dreads, so there’s been no thought given to SEs at all in this post.
This head chart has room for 54 DE dreads. From the front of my head to the back, I do 4 rainbow rows; in other words, I do 4 rows that go across the head like a headband, from ear to ear. After those first 4 initial rows, I change to a horizontal pattern. If I have more or less dreads to install (minimum 44, maximum 60) I only change the horizontal pattern. I always install the 4 rainbow rows exactly the same, every single time, no matter thickness of dread or number of dreads. Why? Because I mostly wear my dreads straight back from my forehead like the next picture so I need the most coverage on top and in front.
This isn’t to say my install pattern cannot be used for wearing the hair split down the middle. Here I am, same pattern, with a middle part.
I don’t like the bricklayer pattern because when wearing DEs the part wouldn’t be straight; it’d swing from side to side and, to me, look a bit weird.
The only time I wear my hair parted down the middle is when my extensions match my natural hair color well. If my natural hair does not match my extension color, I usually fake it. Sometimes I lighten then color my shaved sides to match my extensions:
More often though, I simply use water activated cake makeup to actually paint my shaved sides and roots to match the extensions, like this:
Because I wear my hair straight back, all I need to paint with the makeup is my front roots and shaved sides. I wash the paint out when I shower and reapply while doing my makeup. Here’s a good example of not painted roots VS painted roots.
The only pain is getting caught in a particularly watery situation. Since the makeup is water activated, it will melt when water and friction are applied; this means swimming and rain can make you melt a bit. Also, there’s some rub off on pillows. But really, this is not so much different from many temporary, bright colored hair dyes. I put up with it, and I’ve never had any embarrassing moments of melting in public. During this current install I even went swimming with my painted roots; really it didn’t budge much as long as I didn’t touch the paint. So it’s really not that bad at all.
Sometimes now, if my hair matches the extensions somewhat (or I just don’t feel like it) I’ll leave out the first 2 rainbow rows and wear a “fringe” or “bangs.” I put that in quotes because my hair is 10 inches long so it’s not a traditional fringe. I wear it in a French braid to the side,
or I wear it in a quiff
Mostly it just goes into a quiff of varying sizes.
I didn’t always install at my hairline though. Many moons ago, I didn’t have shaved sides, and I didn’t install to my hairline at the front or the back due to sensitivity. I left out the first 2 rainbow rows and the bottom horizontal row on my chart and simply braided that hair to keep it out of the way. The bottom braids were hidden by the extensions on top, and then for the front I’d wear a headband and hand tied fringe, like this:
It was hot and somewhat uncomfortable and could shift easily, which eventually led me to shaving those sides and slowly installing to the hairline. Installing to my hairline didn’t happen all at once due to sensitivity. I installed with large, loose sections and light dreads first, then got smaller, tighter, and heavier over time. If it hurts, that’s a bad sign that hair follicles could be getting damaged. Move slowly, give your scalp time to adjust.
Now as far as how I actually “braid” the things in, I first use the blanket stitch braid near the scalp, then switch to a regular three way braid about half way through my natural hair. This gives me tightness at the scalp and the pretty wrap at the bottom. My hair is anywhere from 9-14 inches long, and with that length I can manage to squeeze in 6 inch long dreads, or of course as long as I want.
What type of install pattern do you use? Do you find one better than another?