Remember when crochet braid were turrrrrrble? Like when they were actual tiny braids, curled in spirals and we (Yes, “we!”) were walking around with big gappy parts, all the knots in the world and scraggly hair looking like last minute casting extras on the set of Moesha? The 90’s were a rough era for us magical black girls. Fortunately we made it over…but not without a few more questionable phases including black gel, weave pony tails, and the sleek but edge snatching microbraids. Let’s not forget name belts and velour jumpsuits since we’re kind of on the subject.
Finally…we know better AND we’re doing better. The sew-in revolution of the latter 2000’s and the natural hair movement of 2010’s have been a sweet salvation for our stressed out follicles and under appreciated coils. In more recent years, crochet has taken the natural hair community by storm and has quickly become one of the strongest allies in the fight for our kinky freedom—thank you KNOTLESS crochet!!!
We have liberated our nappy roots! And just like Booker T. Washington and W.E.B DuBois were trying to figure out how to systematically educate and progress the Black community after slavery ended, we are now staring in the face of the two big wigs of protective styling: sew-ins and crochet braids and we’re trying to determine which one is the best method for growing and progressing our luxurious locks.
Too far with the Booker T./sew-in comparison?
I tried it.
The point is we seem to be having a hard time figuring out whether Sew-In or Crochet Braids are the better for our newly freed folicles. Let’s take a look:
Versatility: NO question about it…sew-ins are BY FAR more versatile than crochets in all aspects, from how you can style the hair to how you can manipulate the hair.
Crochet comparison: Though we are making huge strides in the versatility of crochet installations with more diverse hair/curl options, knotless methods and vixen braiding patterns, there are still a lot of limitations on crochet installations which can be easily avoided with sew-ins.
Durability: You’re not coming up off the big bucks for nothing, the RIGHT KIND of human hair on a weft (or track) can literally last for years if taken care of properly.
Crochet Comparison: Synthetic crochet hair simply can not last that long while in use. It just won’t. Period.
Sleekness: This is a matter of opinion so I hesitated on adding it but it’s a valid notion to many MANY women so I threw it in. You can achieve a very straight look with sew-ins—which is preferable for some tastes, occupations, styles, etc. (I’m not EVEN trying to get into a deeper debate about people agreeing or disagreeing with this ideology.)
Crochet Comparison: For the most part, this is about preference, but I will say that in general, we’ve discovered a lots of way to offer very sleek options in the crochet world as well, but none that quite match that of a sew-in.
Longevity: The right human sew-in hair, installed by the right stylist, can last up to 6 months for one installation (with touch ups) without damaging your natural hair. And I think we can all agree—JUST….WOW!
Crochet Comparison: Once again, for where we are now with crochet “technology” it ain’t going down like that with synthetic hair—plain and simple.
CROCHET BRAIDS PROS:
Affordability: Synthetic crochet hair is extremely affordable in general, high quality to low quality, curly or straight–all of it is pretty darn affordable. However, it is especially affordable compared to human hair on a track. Additionally, it typically costs a little less for a stylist to install as well.
Sew-In Comparison: You already know… unless you got the hook up in the Eastern hemisphere, quality sew-in hair is going to cost you a Beyoncé concert ticket and 3 tanks of gas in under the Bush Administration—I’m just saying.
Maintenance: Barring a few exceptions, crochet hair is highly low maintenance. Synthetic hair responds minimally, if at all, to products, moisture, and the atmosphere so you can’t sweat out a curl pattern or weigh the hair down with product build up. Additionally, with proper maintenance, the RIGHT kind of crochet hair will hold it’s curls nicely for anywhere between 5-8 weeks with very minimal effort.
Sew-In Comparison: Proper maintenance of high quality human hair on a track requires nearly as much attention as it would if you had grown it yourself. More frequent styling, curling, and manipulation is required to maintain the look with sew-in hair. However, this could also be considered a pro of the sew-in depending on your hair goals.
Low Stress-Of course the level of stress on your scalp can vary drastically depending on a few factors including client’s tolerance level, the amount of pressure the stylist uses when braiding and installing hair, braiding patterns, style, ect. Crochet braids do not REQUIRE (operative word) a lot of tension because they do not require the extra step of sewing which adds tension to the scalp. Also, since crochet hair is typically on the bulkier/curlier end of the spectrum is does not require the same level of “flatness” that a sew-in requires in order to achieve a seamless appearance and therefore is less stressful.
Sew-In Comparison: Installing hair for a sew-in requires more tension on your scalp. This does NOT mean that it requires an unhealthy amount of stress on your scalp but it still requires more than a crochet installation.
Functionality: Since your scalp is exposed and accessible there is greater opportunity to take care of your hair when wearing crochet braids. You can oil your scalp, moisturize your hair (in moderation—to avoid mildew), and it allows your scalp to “breathe.”
Sew-In Comparison: The sew-in tracks make your scalp less accessible and the delicate nature of sew-in hair make it less favorable to put a lot of products–like oil– on your scalp because it will negatively impact the appearance and quality of the hair.
So there you have it. Like Booker T. and W.E.B, neither sew-ins nor crochet braids are really better than the other…
Still too far with the comparison? Ok. Bottom line—It depends on what you are looking for in a style so choose wisely my curlfriends!
Whatever you decide, rock your crown with confidence that there is a God above you and a queen in you!