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What is stitch vs no stitch braids?

Braiding hair is a popular protective hairstyle for many people, particularly those with naturally curly or coily hair textures. Braids can be done in a variety of techniques, but two main methods are stitch braids and no stitch braids.

What are Stitch Braids?

Stitch braids, also sometimes called sew-in braids, are a technique where synthetic hair extension bundles are sewn into your natural hair using a needle and thread. Each braid is attached individually by stitching the extension piece to your natural hair strands near the scalp. This creates a seamless look and allows the extensions to lay flat against the head.

Some key things to know about stitch braids:

  • Small cornrows or plaits are done close to the scalp as a base for stitching on the extensions.
  • The stylist uses a curved needle and nylon or polyester thread to sew the extensions to your natural hair.
  • Stitching the tracks gives a very secure hold and avoids slippage.
  • The stitching method aims to be undetectable for a seamless look.
  • Can allow for neat parts and styling versatility.
  • Tends to be a longer lasting install than no stitch methods.

Overall, stitch braids involve meticulously sewing in supple braiding hair for a customizable look that can last 6-8 weeks with proper care.

What are No Stitch Braids?

No stitch braiding techniques rely on wrapping or looping extensions around your natural hair to apply the braided hair pieces, rather than sewing them down.

Some examples of popular no stitch braiding methods include:

  • Tree Braids – Strips of kanekalon hair are wrapped around cornrows in a branching pattern.
  • Crochet Braids – A crochet needle is used to pull braiding hair through cornrows.
  • Feed-In Braids – Extensions are fed into cornrows using a hook or loop tool.
  • Faux Locs – Synthetic locs are wrapped around the natural hair using an interlocking motion.

In general, no stitch braiding is known for:

  • Faster application time since extensions don’t need to be sewn down.
  • Lower tension on the scalp compared to tight stitching.
  • Allows the natural hair to be freer underneath.
  • Can provide fuller, textured styles imitating locs or twists.
  • Less expensive maintenance between installs.

No stitch braids are a lower commitment protective style. Installs typically last 4-6 weeks before needing maintenance.

Key Differences Between Stitch vs. No Stitch Braids

While both stitch and no stitch braids can create beautiful styles, there are some notable differences between the two techniques:

Stitch Braids No Stitch Braids
Extensions sewn into cornrows Extensions wrapped around/through cornrows
Very secure hold More susceptible to slipping
Can feel tight on the scalp Lower tension on the scalp
Allows for versatile parts Parts limited by base braids
Neater, sleeker look Fuller, more textured styles
Takes longer to install Faster installation
6-8 week lifespan 4-6 week lifespan
Higher maintenance costs Lower maintenance costs

As shown in the table, stitch braids tend to have a more natural, customized look that lasts longer before needing maintenance. But no stitch styles are quicker, lower tension, and more budget-friendly on upkeep.

Pros and Cons of Stitch Braids

Here’s a more in-depth look at some of the pros and cons of getting stitch braids:


  • Very secure hold – Stitching down each braid means they are less likely to loosen or slip.
  • Customizable look – Any braid pattern can be created and size adjusted.
  • Allows for versatile styling – Parts can be placed in different areas.
  • Longer lasting – Stitch braids can last up to 2 months.
  • Looks like your real hair – Stitching hides any tracks for a seamless finish.
  • Less hassle – Don’t have to worry about braids unraveling.
  • Protects natural hair – Less manipulation while installed.


  • Tight tension on scalp – Stitching can feel too tight for some people.
  • Time consuming – Installs can take 8+ hours to complete.
  • More expensive – Higher cost for the initial install.
  • Heavy – More hair can mean more weight on your head.
  • More maintenance – Eventually need to be re-tightened or redone.
  • Hair damage risk – If done too tight or left in too long.
  • Difficult removal – Must be unstitched which can damage hair.

Pros and Cons of No Stitch Braids

No stitch braiding techniques also have their own set of advantages and disadvantages:


  • Faster application – No need to sew down each braid.
  • Lower tension – Less pulling on the scalp.
  • Cost effective – More affordable maintenance.
  • Natural hair remains freer – Less restrictive on curls.
  • Fun textured looks – Great for emulating locs, twists.
  • Easier removal – Unwraps versus being unstitched.
  • Less weight – Due to less hair used.


  • Less secure hold – Higher likelihood of braids slipping.
  • Limited styling – Parts dictated by cornrow base.
  • Shorter lifespan – May only last 4-6 weeks.
  • Messier look – More frizzing as style ages.
  • Difficult re-tightening – May need fully redone.
  • Less customizable – More difficult to adjust size/shape.
  • Still requires maintenance – Roots need re-done.

What to Expect with the Styling Process

The process of getting stitch braids versus no stitch braids can vary as well. Here’s an overview of what to expect with each install method:

Stitch Braids Process:

  1. Hair is sectioned and cornrowed into braid base pattern.
  2. Stylist hand stitches extension hair to cornrows.
  3. Small bundles of braiding hair are added to ends.
  4. Stylist repeats stitching process for each cornrow.
  5. Entire head is stitched row by row.
  6. Braiding hair is styled/trimmed as desired.

Stitch braids require carefully sewing tracks to lay flat. This meticulous process tends to take 8-12 hours for a full head.

No Stitch Braids Process:

  1. Hair is sectioned and cornrowed/plaited into choice pattern.
  2. Stylist wraps/loops extensions into cornrows.
  3. Extensions are secured through chosen method.
  4. Stylist moves to next cornrow and repeats.
  5. Entire head is completed row by row.
  6. Any trimming or styling is done.

No stitch application tends to be faster, with installs taking 3-6 hours. Less precision is required since tracks are not being sewn down.

Ideal Candidates for Each Method

When deciding between stitch versus no stitch braids, it helps to consider variables like your hair type, lifestyle and preferences:

Best Candidates for Stitch Braids:

  • Want a style that can last up to 8 weeks
  • Prefer customized, versatile styling
  • Seek neat, laid edges and parts
  • Have looser curl patterns (type 3 hair)
  • Want braids that move and feel like real hair
  • Don’t mind sitting for a long install time

Best Candidates for No Stitch Braids:

  • Want fuller, textured styles like faux locs
  • Prefer less tension on the scalp
  • Need a faster install time
  • Want more budget-friendly maintenance
  • Have tighter curl patterns (type 4 hair)
  • Looking for fun, temporary styles

Your individual needs will determine whether stitch braids or no stitch braids are the better choice for you.

Aftercare Tips for Braided Styles

Proper aftercare is essential for maintaining any braided style and preventing damage to your natural hair:

Key Stitch Braid Aftercare Tips:

  • Avoid over-moisturizing to reduce frizzing.
  • Gently shampoo braids every 1-2 weeks.
  • Use light oils like jojoba or grapeseed oil for braid care.
  • Sleep on a satin pillowcase.
  • Get braids re-tightened after 4-6 weeks.
  • Remove braids carefully by cutting stitches.

Key No Stitch Braid Aftercare Tips:

  • Refresh edges and roots as needed.
  • Tie down nightly with a scarf or bonnet.
  • Use a moisturizing spray for braid hydration.
  • Avoid too much manipulation or scrubbing.
  • Get braids redone every 4-6 weeks.
  • Remove braids gently by unwrapping hair.

Being gentle, keeping braids moisturized, and maintaining the style with timely upkeep will help both stitch and no stitch braids last and prevent breakage.

Finding a Stylist for Braids

Getting your stitch braids or no stitch braids done properly requires finding a skilled stylist you trust. Here are tips for selecting a braider:

  • Look at social media or reviews to view their work.
  • Ask about their experience with your preferred technique.
  • Schedule a consultation about options.
  • Choose someone knowledgeable about natural hair care.
  • Confirm they use quality, lightweight extensions.
  • Ask about their sanitation practices.
  • Make sure they avoid styles that are too tight.
  • Discuss a maintenance plan for your lifestyle.

Taking the time to find an experienced braider known for doing excellent stitch braids or no stitch braids while caring for natural hair integrity will help ensure you get a style you love.

Cost Comparisons Between Methods

Here is an overview of the typical cost differences between stitch and no stitch braiding methods:

Braiding Method Average Initial Install Cost* Average Maintenance Cost*
Stitch Braids $100-$300+ $50-$150 every 4-6 weeks
No Stitch Braids $50-$200+ $30-$100 every 4-6 weeks

*Cost can vary based on factors like braid size/length, style intricacy, location and stylist rates.

As shown above, stitch braids tend to cost more upfront due to the meticulous sewing and time required. But no stitch braids are generally cheaper and faster for maintenance visits.


Stitch braids and no stitch braids both offer excellent protective styling options with their own sets of pros and cons. Stitch braids allow for customization and long-lasting wear, while no stitch techniques offer faster application and more budget-friendly upkeep. Assessing your hair type, lifestyle and preferences can help determine which installation method may suit you best.

With either technique, proper aftercare and working with an experienced stylist is key to avoiding damage and achieving the beautiful braided style you want. Taking the time to research your options will allow you to make the optimal choice between stitch vs no stitch braids.