NaturallyCurly: What are some of the most effective protective styles?
Dr. Kari: The most effective protective styles that I have seen are double strand twist (with and without extensions). Twists are a great way to protective style because of the longevity and versatility. Other effective styles include individual braids, cornrows, and cornrow styling. I select these because you have access to the scalp. I would like to note that 1) the technique and 2) hair care in the style are essential to all of these. Poor technique can cause traction alopecia from pulling and other concerns. In regards to hair care, you want to keep the hair lubricated with oil-based products. Oiling the scalp and the ends are important. Oftentimes, people tend to crucify and blame the style because lack of care.
Which styles have the highest potential for damage? Which styles would you suggest people to stray from?
Dr. Kari: Weaving provides versatility but I do not select it or encourage it because of the lack of access to the scalp. You cannot cleanse the scalp as thoroughly. With weaving, the hair is typically braided in a cone shape, the rows are close together, and sometimes the stylist uses a cap. So much money is spent on the hair and installation that no one is willing to remove it in four weeks. Failing to remove a weave for proper cleansing can cause tractions, fungal infection, and bacterial infections. This could then lead to misdiagnosing the irritation as itchy instead of a symptom to a bigger issue. Then, the client goes on to suffer hair loss and not realize the cause.
What is a good time period to keep protective styles installed?
Dr. Kari: For twists or braid extensions I typically tell clients 6-8 weeks but that is specifically based on if they get a touch up between 4-6 weeks. A touch up is getting the hairline re-braided or re-twisted. As the style gets older women tend to pull the hair back in an attempt to make the style look neat, but the increased weight from the braids causes stress and the pulling can potentially cause traction. No more than eight weeks. Cornrows are worn from 2-4 weeks. Again, a month max with all protective styles.
Are protective styles ideal for people with high porosity hair?
Dr. Kari: For women with high porosity hair, you want to make sure that you are sealing the moisture in. People with high porosity hair tend to feel that constantly moisturizing their hair can become difficult and cumbersome. They tend to not moisturize their loose hair anymore than they would with a protective style so I encourage protective styling because it seems to provide a sense of relief. In order to assure the hair is always lubricated, they could use a spray solution with oils.