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.
What should be done prior to installing a protective style?
Dr. Kari: Make sure the hair is thoroughly cleansed, deep conditioned, and lubricated with a light oil. When installing double-strand twist with extensions, I usually do a blow out. You should not install extensions on wet or damp hair.
Should you trim before or after installing a protective style?
Dr. Kari: It depends on the condition of the hair, texture, and curl pattern. If a client has really bad ends, I will trim the hair slightly. If the hair is in good condition and the client requests a trim, I’ll tell them to wait until they come out the style. Other deciding factors depend on how the technician styles and cuts. If the technician cuts too blunt, then the hair will protrude from the twists.
What styles would you suggest for children?
Dr. Kari: I love twists on children. They are easy, low stress, and can be installed quickly. I usually suggest that children have double-strand twists without extensions but if I am installing extensions I am mindful of the length of thickness of the twists to assure the finished look is age appropriate.
How do you wash and moisturize the hair without causing matting and tangles?
Dr. Kari: Concentrate the shampoo on the scalp or pads of the fingers and use a water battle to create the lather. When you rinse, you want to lightly massage the ends of the hair to remove buildup.
When using extensions, does hair quality matter in regards to the health of your real hair or just longevity of the style?
Dr. Kari: First, be mindful of allergies to synthetic hair and coating on the hair strands. Both matter. Some synthetic fibers are extremely harsh on the human hair. Find synthetic fibers that are extremely soft and similar to the natural feel of your texture.
Martha Patricia Reveles: How can recuperate my pattern hair? I used to be 3b-c, but last year I had a thyroidectomy and since then, besides the hormonal replacement, I take calcium and vitamin D. As a consequence, apart from losing hair and the dryness, my pattern hair changed. After the surgery it was 2a-b, now, after follow the naturallycurly advice hair is more 2c-3a.
Dr. Kari: Ultimately, anytime someone is experiencing a systemic condition, especially an endocrine dysfunction, it will interrupt the growth cycle. Because the growth was affected, there is nothing that can be corrected externally. Similar to women who go through chemotherapy, this may just be the new texture of her hair. Another thing she can do is try to get a hair mineral analysis, which will determine the mineral and nutrients level in the blood and that may play a role in how her hair is growing. The change in the system is due to the systemic interruption. There is no guarantee that the original curl pattern will come back. It will depend on the balance of her system.
Hayleyandevette Knight: I have been having a hard time getting my hair to retain length during the winter months and wondering what I can do because I don't want to go back to relaxing my hair. Any tips would be helpful. Thank you.
Dr. Kari: Typically in the winter, hair tends to be drier and needs more lubrication because the climate is so cold. Stick to protective styling. You do not have to add hair. Reduce manipulation. Length retention is about how healthy the ends of the hair are. Something is happening to the ends of your hair so keep your ends lubricated.
Onie Lee: Is there an alternative to a blow out for trimming ends and how often really should very coily 4c hair be trimmed?
Dr. Kari: You could get a trim while the hair is wet or damp. It becomes a question of how trained is the technician who is cutting your hair wet. I have cut hair damp but most of those clients want a shape for curly styles. It is at the discretion of the client. Be mindful that when stretched, it may not be the same shape due to unevenness.
In regards to the trims, again, it depends on the client. Some clients with tight coils tend to get more single strand knots (ssk) and in order to maintain the integrity of the length and to trim efficiently, I will blow the hair out first. Everyone is different.
Nekisha Hegler: I have a couple of what I call "troubled spots" in my hair. At one point my hair fell out in those areas. It has grown out since then but it’s growing pretty slow. What do I do?
Dr. Kari: Ultimately, an anagen hair (active growing stage) will grow for 5-7 years. If anything happens in that period that interrupts that growing phase, how fast it grows back may vary. Was it a fungal infection, bacterial infection, trauma, traction? All of these could have affected the follicle. The follicle could potentially not be as big, as strong, and as a result affect how efficient the hair grows. Immediate results will not show with trauma and the cause of the trauma must be identified.
You can find Dr. Kari Williams on Instagram, Facebook, and Mahogany Hair Revolution Salon and Trichologist Clinic.