Search Results: Kari Williams

4 Things You Need to Know About Loc Extensions

Loc extensions are becoming a more popular styling option. People can now experience a loc style without going through the locking process, which can take six months to a year. You can also wear locs without the commitment that is inherent with the style. When you are ready to change your look, you don’t have to cut your hair or spend weeks combing them out. You can simply remove the extension and transition to another fabulous style. 

Before installing loc extensions, it is important to have information about how to properly prepare your hair, the process of creating the style, maintenance, and how to properly remove the style so that you do not damage your hair. Here are tips for the best overall experience, starting from preparation to removal.
Image Source: @braided_beauti

1. How to prep your hair for success

Before going into any long-term protective style, I highly recommend making sure your hair is in healthy condition. Wearing a protective style typically means you are not manipulating your hair, thoroughly cleansing your scalp, or infusing moisturizers and protein in your hair strands to prevent damage for at least four weeks. With loc extensions, your hair is completely wrapped and covered for at least eight weeks, leaving your hair strands vulnerable to matting, excessive dryness, and, ultimately, breakage when you take out the extensions.

Image Source: imoleayo_tutorials

To prevent this, you first want to thoroughly detangle your hair by removing all knots and matted areas. Next, thoroughly cleanse your hair and make sure you remove all dirt and buildup from the scalp. Follow up with a deep conditioner that will replenish the moisture balance in your hair strands and strengthen the hair. Last, seal the moisture into your hair with natural and essential oils. I recommend the Jamaican Mango & Lime brand, which includes products formulated to establish a foundation for healthy hair.

2. How to install loc extensions

4 Things You Need to Know About Loc Extensions
Image Source: velvet_creme

Creating loc extensions is a two-step process that can take 6-12 hr. based on the length and density of your hair, the size and length of the loc extensions being created, and the speed and technique of the technician. The base of the loc is first created with a braid, twist, or a combination of the two. Human or synthetic hair can be used. If you are interested in starting locs with loc extensions, human hair is recommended.

Image Source: happilynappyco

After the base is installed, it is wrapped with more hair that completely covers the braid or twist and creates a cylinder shape that resembles an authentic loc. Locs created with synthetic hair can be heavy, so I do not recommend loc extensions that are longer than your shoulder blades.

4 Things You Need to Know About Loc Extensions
Image Source: @womenlocstyles

The weight of the extensions will make it difficult to style and can cause hair loss due to tension and traction. Wrapped correctly, the end of the loc will be sealed, but some stylists will burn the ends. Burning the ends can only be done with synthetic hair.

3. How to maintain your style

Maintaining loc extensions is very simple. The style can typically last 10-12 weeks. A touch up is highly recommended between 6-8 weeks. This involves taking out 2-3 rows of the loc extensions around the hairline and re-installing them. This will eliminate the hair loss and damage that can happen with the manipulation of the extensions around the hairline, especially as they get older.

Image Source: @marleamarshey

To keep the hair healthy while in the style, mist light oil on the scalp and hair. Refrain from using heavy greases, pomades, or cream conditioners on the hair because they will embed in the loc and create buildup and residue.

To keep the scalp free of dirt and debris, use a clean cloth with witch hazel or sea breeze. If you need to shampoo your hair, I recommend going into the salon so that if any of the extensions come out, they can be repaired immediately. Additionally, you must make sure the locs are completely dry to prevent mildew, so sit under a dryer for 30-60 min.

4. How to remove the extensions

Taking down loc extensions definitely requires assistance so that you do not cut your hair by accident or cause excessive breakage. Depending on how long you have worn the extensions, there will be a considerable amount of dirt that has accumulated at the point where the extension starts. This accumulation creates a matted section of hair that requires a lot of patience and the right product to properly detangle the hair.

Image Source: @tiaraimanimusic

To eliminate excessive breakage and make it easier to detangle, massage African Pride Black Castor Miracle Braid & Scalp Cleansing Rinse into the matted section. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then gently start to separate the hair using your fingertips. If the area is matted, use the end of a rat tail comb to slowly pick through the matted section. Make sure you are detangling each section of hair as you remove the extension. Do not shampoo your hair until the entire head is thoroughly detangled to avoid the risk of hair matting more.

This information will help you prepare to enjoy your loc extension style while preserving the health of your hair.

Stop These Common Mistakes if You Feel Like Your “Hair Isn’t Growing”

With the natural hair DIY wave many women are doing everything themselves, and when they decide to visit a salon, they may be unaware of how damaged their hair is. The primary complaints I encounter in the salon setting from women who have not visited a salon in a while, especially after going natural, are “My hair is dry” or “My hair is not growing.” When women feel like their hair is not growing, I explain that the hair will always grow as long as they are living. Therefore, if they feel as if their hair is not growing past a certain length, the hair is breaking and we have to investigate why. I have found that these complaints are often a result of common mistakes like the misuse of conditioners or heat styling tools that can create different forms of damage.

Overusing leave-in conditioner

When a client complains about dry hair, I immediately ask about their current hair care regimen. The most common products that are over used or misused are moisturizing conditioners and leave-in conditioners. Leave-in conditioners were designed as a “quick fix,” meaning they should be incorporated into your hair care regimen when you don’t have time to deep condition your hair. There are different types of hydrolyzed proteins found in leave-in conditioners that are designed to increase the hair’s strength, flexibility, and shine. When leave-in conditioners are used on a regular basis you may find that the hair feels dry and brittle. This is because the hair is predominantly made of protein that provides the hair with strength and structure. When you apply too much protein on the hair it causes the hair to harden. As a result, the hair feels dry and when you manipulate the hair for styling, it breaks easily.  Therefore, leave-in conditioners should only be used occasionally.

When it comes to the use of leave-in conditioners, check the ingredients first. Due to the popularity of leave-in conditioners ,some manufactures will label a product a leave-in conditioner, when in fact, it functions more like a moisturizer. If the ingredients list a hydrolyzed protein, you want to limit your use of the product from every day to a couple of times a week. The most important thing to remember is that you should deep condition your hair on a regular basis.

If you regularly use leave-in conditioners (5-7 times a week), you want to maintain the moisture balance in your hair by using a moisturizing deep conditioner (according to the instructions) at least once a month. Also try using a light natural oil on your strands while the hair is damp, before applying your leave-in conditioner.

Related: 9 Protein Free Leave-In Conditioners

Leaving a deep conditioner in too long

The other extreme is when women over condition their hair with moisturizing or softening conditioners. It is important to deep condition your hair on a regular basis to maintain a proper moisture balance. When I talk about deep conditioning, I am referring to the process of applying a moisturizing conditioner to the hair; distributing it evenly with the use of a wide tooth comb or brush; and incorporating the use of steam or heat for at least 10 min., but no more than 30 min. for deeper penetration of essential proteins and moisturizers into the hair shaft. I would consider this the “proper” way to deep condition the hair. The misconception many people have about conditioner is that if they leave it on longer than the recommended time their hair will get more benefits, but this is not true and there are ways in which you can over-condition the hair. Many women deep condition their hair by leaving the conditioner on overnight or even for a whole day. Unfortunately, the hair can become deficient of the structural protein it requires to stay strong and result in a soft, mushy mess. The hair will feel limp and weak, become extremely elastic, stretch, and eventually break.

Read moreWhy I Stopped Deep Conditioning Overnight

Not using a heat protectant

Most women who choose to wear their hair in its curly state do not use heat styling tools. If they do, it is very minimal and it is with a blow-dryer. The mistakes some women make when using a blow dryer are not protecting the hair from the heat with light essential oils or making the blow-dryer too hot. Each shaft of the hair has about 7 to 12 layers of cuticle scales. Their job is to protect the inside of the shaft, known as the cortex. Excessive use of heat will create cracks and damage to the cuticle. The damage caused by heat styling includes blistering and fracturing of the hair. Microscopic examination of the hair shows small nodes seen as grey-white or yellow specks on the affected hair shafts. The hair tends to break at the sites of the nodes, leading to patchy breakage.

Read more: Heat Protectants: The Buildup that Actually Saves Your Hair

Take these steps to prevent damage

These are common at-home practices that can cause damage to the hair, but you can take some steps to prevent the damage.

Change your hair styling routine

If you are currently using heat to style your hair, try to limit the use of heated instruments on your hair or at least try using them on lower settings.

Use heat protectants

Apply a heat protectant to your strands before using any form of heat for an added barrier of protection and for the prevention of breakage

Don’t over condition the hair

One of the main sources of hair damage is dryness. The regular use of leave-in conditioners causes the hair shaft to become dry, brittle, and susceptible to breakage. Make sure you are using a moisturizing shampoo and deep conditioner. When conditioning your hair, leave the conditioner on at least 10 min. but no more than 30 min. and incorporate steam or heat for deeper penetration of the hair shaft.

Visit a licensed hairstylist

Most importantly, occasionally visit a licensed hairstylist that you trust to provide you with information on how you can improve your routine at home and offer you in-salon treatments that will enhance the health of your hair.

This article is written by Dr. Kari Williams. Dr. Kari is a licensed barber, professional hair designer & stylist, natural hair care specialist, educator, hair care products consultant, board certified trichologist through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and the Founder & CEO of Mahogany Hair Revolution Salon & Trichology Clinic. She is the current President of the California Board of Barbering & Cosmetology, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013. Dr. Kari is also the Creator and Co-Founder of AnnCarol, a line of products formulated to achieve and maintain healthy hair. Her products can be purchased at

Author’s note: This article has been updated for clarity regarding the use of leave-in conditioners.

How to Avoid Fairy Knots, According to a Pro
single strand knots
Photo of trichonodosis/single strand knot/fairy knot

Writer Dr. Kari Williams has been styling celebrities at her salon Mahogany Hair Revolution, in Beverly Hills, for 18 years. She even has her PhD in Trichology (the science of hair loss + disorders of the scalp”>. 

Do you have single strand knots? They may feel like little beads along the hair shaft. They are annoying, and to remove them many women comb as much hair as they can towards the front of their head, grab a pair of scissors and begin clipping away any knots in view. First, let me state that I do not advocate trimming your own hair, especially with any pair of scissors. Dull scissors can fray the ends of the hair shaft, leaving them in the same condition they were in before the makeshift trim, if not worse.

First, let me state that I do not advocate trimming your own hair, especially with any pair of scissors.

Most importantly, there are some irregularities of the hair shaft that cause consistent knotting. This is most commonly seen in curlier hair types. Unfortunately, some women will experience knots along their hair shaft on a regular basis. These knots are not always at the end of the hair shaft; instead, single or multiple knots can be seen and felt along the length of the hair shaft. This phenomenon has been nicknamed single strand knots or “fairy knots,” but the technical term is trichonodosis.

Why does curly hair knot more easily?

Curly, coiled strands are produced by a flat, curved hair follicle. The curly hair strand that grows out of this follicle tends to weave and loop around other hair strands causing the strands of hair to easily become knotted together. Now this is common in curly hair types. The ultimate concern is when this becomes a chronic problem and a single, or sometimes double knot occurs in the hair shaft.  Short, curly hair and tightly coiled hair types are particularly susceptible to this type of knotting.

What causes knots?

A considerable number of slack knots are often produced by friction from pillows or various hair manipulations, especially when shampooing.  Combing the hair with combs that have fine teeth may tighten the knots and even pull out hairs from the scalp prematurely.  As a result, wide tooth combs are always the best option when combing through the hair.

How to prevent fairy knots

Extreme care must be taken to reduce the amount of excessive knotting of the hair shaft.  Here are 7 ways to prevent and/or decrease the occurrence of single strand knots (trichonodosis”>:

1. Always detangle your hair before shampooing

When hair is not detangled, the water will cause your curls to tighten around any existing knots or build up in the hair. This makes combing the hair after the shampoo more difficult and frustrating.

2. While shampooing, do not pile the hair on top of the head

Instead, massage the shampoo directly in to the scalp with the pads of your fingertips and gently finger comb the shampoo through the length of your hair in a downward motion to keep the hair free of tangles. 

3. Blot your hair dry

When drying the hair it is always best to blot the hair dry and squeeze excess water from the hair. Do not use harsh movements with the towel.  

4. Decrease friction at night

When preparing for bed, braid or twist the hair in sections to decrease the friction and matting that can be caused while the hair is loose.

5. Strengthen your strands

Incorporate reconstructing deep conditioners or protein treatments into your conditioning routine on a regular basis to keep the hair shaft strong. 

6. Lubricate your strands

Keep your hair well lubricated with the use of natural and essential oils. The oils coat the hair strand, which helps to reduce friction, tangling and knotting.

7. Schedule regular trims

Have a professional trim your ends on a regular basis. On average for women who wear their hair natural, that’s once every 3-4 months, but it may be more frequently for those who have tighter coils and experience knots on a regular basis. So, monitor your hair growth cycle and how your hair feels a month or two after a trim. If you start to notice that your hair tangles more during and after a shampoo and/or you feel knots in your hair that is a sign you need a trim. 

What if you can’t get rid of a knot?

If you have knots in your hair shaft that you cannot undo, the only and best way to get rid of them is to cut them with proper shears. Do not comb, yank, pull, tear or use your kitchen scissors to remove the knots. You are only further damaging your hair. Lastly, do not get frantic if you are experiencing this problem. It is a common occurrence for some curly girls and comes with the territory of having curly hair. As long as you have the proper tools and information to manage the problem and prevent it from getting worse, you and your hair will be happy.

Do you experience single strand knots? How do you combat them?

This article has been updated.

What Do You Mean This Is Not Just Dandruff?
Photo Courtesy of IS_ImageSource — Getty Images
Several flaky conditions have similar symptoms that mimic one another. There are a number of scalp disorders that include the symptom of itching and flaking. Unfortunately, most people are not familiar with other common scalp disorders, so a number of them go misidentified and self-diagnosed as dandruff. The consequence of the self-diagnosis is the condition can worsen and you’re unable to have relief because the wrong products and hair care regimen are used. In this article, we will examine the cause of most scalp disorders, common symptoms, and products that can be used to offer relief from the symptoms.

In order to understand scalp disorders, we first must understand the scalp. The scalp consists of skin cells. These cells are constantly replicating and shedding to produce new cells on the scalp. Like the skin on the rest of our body, this process happens so synchronously and microscopically, it is invisible to the naked eye. It is only when something disrupts this process that scalp problems arise. 

The scalp produces natural oil called sebum. This slightly acidic substance coats the hair strands and lubricates the scalp. Most scalp disorders are a result of a dysfunction of the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum. The over production of sebum causes large oily flakes and the under production of sebum cause large dry flakes on the scalp. These flakes are skin cells. When the cells on the scalp replicate at an accelerated pace it causes these large flakes to sit on the scalp. Some of the symptoms associated with flaking are redness, itching, and tenderness. Hair will not grow long or strong on an inflamed scalp. Therefore, it is important to properly identify scalp disorders so that the proper treatment can be used to alleviate the symptoms and bring the scalp back into balance.

Dandruff is one of the most common scalp disorders and can be a result of stress, extreme weather conditions, nutritional deficiencies, or other scalp conditions. The most common cause of dandruff is the overgrowth of a fungus on the scalp. When dirt and product residue accumulate on the scalp and is not cleansed regularly, it becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi that leads to a lot of scalp discomfort. The primary characteristic of dandruff is flaking, and other scalp disorders such as scalp psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and scalp eczema are often misidentified as dandruff because flakes on the scalp are one of the primary symptoms.

To soothe the symptoms associated with these scalp disorders, I recommend medicated shampoos with one of the following ingredients: coal tar, salicylic acid, pyrithione zinc, or ketoconazole. If you are unsure which ingredient will give you the best results, seek the help of a professional. Medicated shampoos are drying on the hair, so I always recommend incorporating a hydrating shampoo and deep conditioner to replenish moisture in the hair. The AnnCarol Moisturizing Shampoo, Penetrating Deep Conditioner, and Peppermint Chamomile Oil are perfect for keeping your strands soft and scalp pH balanced.

If you are experiencing any level of scalp discomfort, seek the help of a professional who is familiar with scalp disorders, so that you can get accurate recommendations that will restore the health of your scalp and keep your hair healthy.

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3 Things EVERY Natural Hair Stylist Should Know

As natural hair has become more popular, there is a growing demand for stylists who are proficient in the knowledge of styling and caring for natural hair. Here is a short list of things every natural stylist should know. 

How to trim natural hair without straightening it

It has been a regular practice to trim hair while it is straight. This has lead to a misunderstanding among clients about the state the hair has to be in to get a trim. Textured hair does not have to be straight in order for you to get a trim. The use of minimal heat with a blow-dryer is recommended to extend the curl of the hair. This ensures that you are not cutting too much length during the trim. Most people have various curl patterns, trimming the hair while wet creates the risk of cutting too much length off of the hair or resulting in an uneven trim. Using heat styling tools to straighten the hair leaves you vulnerable to heat damage, which can cause a section of your hair or areas along the hair shaft to not revert back to curly, because too much heat was applied.

How to maintain proper protein and moisture balance

Most women who are transitioning to wear their hair in its natural state struggle to find the right protein and moisture balance. This translates into finding conditioners that will keep the hair strong but also help it to feel soft and moisturized.  As a natural stylist, it is important to know when your client needs more moisture in their hair or more protein. This can be determined through touching the hair and elasticity tests. When determining what the client needs, information on products and conditioning treatments are necessary. Establishing a moisture-protein balance requires the client and stylist to work together, so educating the client on maintenance strategies to practice at home are important. The balance cannot always be achieved through one conditioning treatment. It may require several conditioning treatments to get the hair in optimal condition. This balance is important to help clients retain length and reduce breakage.

The proper amount of tension to use when adding extensions

There is a technique to properly installing extensions without compromising the health of the hair. As the popularity of extension styles is increasing, it’s important that natural stylists know how to use proper techniques that will enhance a client’s look without causing hair loss. It’s an unfortunate fact that there are a large number of women who have hair loss around the hairline as a result of tightly braided styles. When too much tension is used to braid and twist hair, it leads to hair loss. If done incorrectly you can literally pull your client’s hair out. Therefore, training on techniques to add extensions without causing hair loss is a must.

The hair industry is huge and it’s important that if you choose to specialize in a particular area of hairstyling, you take the time to acquire additional education so that you are in a position to better serve your client. This includes styling and the health of the hair and scalp.

This is the Real Difference Between Bloggers & Stylists, According to a Natural Hair Stylist
Photo Courtesy of The Maria Antoinette
The internet is flooded with natural hair enthusiasts, vloggers, and bloggers. As more women begin to explore the option of wearing their hair in its naturally curly state, a need for a space to share stories, trials, and triumphs is equally important. Blogs and vlogs became the primary sources of information for natural or curly hair education.

True or false: hairstylists don’t know how to work with textured hair

There was a misbelief that there were no trained hairstylists who understood naturally curly, kinky, coiled hair. Rightfully so, because natural hair styling, braiding, and locking is not formally taught or required in the traditional cosmetology programs across the United States. The truth is, there are and always have been trained, professional hairstylists proficient in the knowledge of natural hair. Natural hair industry pioneers like Taliah Wajiid, Anu Prestonia, and Diane Bailey have used their gifts to educate hairstylists for years. Social media has made it possible for us to have more access to natural hair educators and professionals. Now that more experienced natural hair stylists are making their presence known in the natural hair space, let’s discuss the difference in the information that is shared.

What’s the difference between bloggers and stylists?

The big difference between bloggers and an experienced natural hair stylist is the word experience. Bloggers typically try styling techniques, products, or a mix of products they have created themselves on their own hair and loved ones. This provides a limited view or understanding of what actually works or will produce results.

Hairstylists that are licensed and trained are knowledgeable about the science of hair. They have studied it and have been able to practice the theory through application on hundreds, sometimes thousands of hair textures and curl patterns. This gives them a versatile and expansive understanding of what works so they can help potential clients set realistic expectations for their hair goals.

Why is it important to know the difference?

The mistake that is often made when clients follow the advice of a blogger is that there is so much admiration of the blogger’s hair, they work hard to recreate the look exactly the way they see it without considering other important factors – like the genetic make up that is responsible for the hair they see. Therefore, the recommended regimens, product or styling technique may not produce the same results. Oftentimes, in the salon setting I see a number of women who suffer from dry hair, breakage and inflamed scalps because of the trial and error of trying to find the blogger or vlogger recommendations that will help them with their hair goals. An experienced hairstylist can take an inspirational image and help translate it to fit the style desires of the client to make it more realistic.

The mistake that is often made when clients follow the advice of a blogger is that there is so much admiration of the blogger’s hair, they work hard to recreate the look exactly the way they see it without considering other important factors

In addition to the benefits of having a hairstylist provide you with personalized hair care regimens, hairstyling tips, and hairstyles created to enhance your beauty and fit your lifestyle, it is reassuring to have an experienced professional who you can also work with you to make sure your hair and scalp is in optimal health. Hairstyling is a licensed grooming practice, and although you can maintain your hair at home, it is always nice to have an experienced hairstylist you can call if your hair care regimen is no longer producing results.

The online community that exists is important for women seeking information and shared experiences about styling, managing, and caring for natural hair. Hairstylists use their education and experience to provide solutions to your specific hairstyling needs and desires. We must strike a healthy balance around natural hair styling and education to eliminate the misinformation a lot of women receive about how to care for their hair. It can be confusing, and the confusion can result in damaged hair.  So when you are looking for information online about your hair, remember: Bloggers bring the fun. Experienced hairstylists bring the facts.

This article is written by Dr. Kari, a licensed barber, professional hair designer & stylist, natural hair care specialist, educator, hair care products consultant, board certified trichologist through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and the Founder & CEO of Mahogany Hair Revolution Salon & Trichology Clinic. She is the current President of the California Board of Barbering & Cosmetology, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013. Dr. Kari is also the Creator and Co-Founder of AnnCarol, a line of products formulated to achieve and maintain healthy hair. Her products can be purchased at

Pictured: The Maria Antoinette, a Licensed Cosmetologist who you can follow on YouTube and Instagram.

What You Need to Know About Loc Extensions
loc extensions
Photo by RuslanDashinsky — Getty Images
Loc extensions have become extremely popular over the last year. They have adorned the heads of celebrities on red carpets, worn as a protective style, or as a way to temporarily wear locs before actually committing to the process. Whatever the reason for the decision, we are happy to see that locs are being celebrated as a beautiful and unique style.

When deciding to invest in loc extensions there are some important things you should know. You should understand how loc extensions are created, how long they last, how to prepare your hair for the process, how to maintain them, and how to maintain your natural hair healthy while it is in the style.

Preparing for loc extensions

First, make sure that the hair is completely detangled before shampooing by using the AnnCarol Cleansing Conditioner. Apply to dry hair and massage it into the hair and scalp to loosen up dirt and debris. Use a wide tooth comb or your favorite detangling tool (like the Detangler Brush by Felicia Leatherwood“> to remove knots, tangles, and matted areas within the hair. Rinse completely and follow up with the AnnCarol Moisturizing Shampoo to thoroughly cleanse the scalp and hair. In this process the cleansing conditioner serves as a pre-poo. You want to make sure your hair and scalp is free of all dirt and debris because you will not be able to thoroughly cleanse the hair while it is wrapped in the loc extension. An accumulation of dirt and product in the hair while it is wrapped in the style can cause scalp discomfort or matting of the hair when you take out the style.

After rinsing the shampoo, follow up with the AnnCarol Penetrating Conditioner to infuse protein into the hair, replenish the moisture loss during shampooing, and to soften the hair. Rinse completely, towel dry and apply the AnnCarol Coconut Lavender Oil to damp hair. This will seal in the moisture and protect the hair from the heat of the blow-dryer. Use the blow-dryer on a low to medium heat setting to remove the moisture from the hair and lengthen the curls for a smoother loc extension installation. Do not install the locs on wet or damp hair, as you risk your hair mildewing if you do.

Starting loc extensions

Loc extensions are created by first forming a base. The base is a braid, twist, or a combination of the two depending on the texture of your hair. I typically create a twist, but if the hair is fine or has a looser curl pattern I will start with a braid and finish with a twist. The twist helps the loc extension maintain a cylinder shape. After the base is installed, it is wrapped with hair that completely covers the base. How the hair is wrapped and the type of hair that is used will determine the final look of the loc extension. You can create a silky loc by using synthetic hair and wrapping the hair very neat and uniform. You can create a more textured loc by using coarser synthetic hair or human hair and wrap the hair in a non-uniform way to create the look of a more authentic loc.

Creating loc extensions can take 8-16 hours depending on the length and density of your hair as well as how small and long you want the extensions. Due to the dual process of creating the loc extension, I don’t recommend making the locs too long or small because of the weight of the hair. Loc extensions can be heavy, and the longer they are or the more hair you install, you are taking the risk or experiencing a lot of discomfort.

Maintaining loc extensions

Loc extensions can be worn up to 12 weeks only if you touch up the hairline by removing the extension and recreating it after 4-6 weeks. If you don’t touch up the hairline, I wouldn’t recommend wearing them longer than 8 weeks because as the hair grows out, the weight of the extension increases. The hairline is the most susceptible to breakage and hair loss after the hair has grown out because it is manipulated and pulled the most. Protecting your hair while wearing this style starts with preparing the hair properly before installing the locs. I’m going to give you a sample regimen using AnnCarol products that I formulated to establish a healthy foundation for hair growth.

While wearing the style maintenance is simple. You want to avoid gels, heavy pomades, cream conditioners, or any products that create residue or buildup in the hair. These types of products accumulate in the hair and can make the hair look dirty or cause matting. You can continue to use the AnnCarol Revitalizing Oil or other light essential oils that absorb into the hair and don’t leave a residue. The additional lubrication from the oils also protects the hair from dehydration while in the style, which can cause breakage while taking out the extension.

If you are interested in trying loc extensions, understanding the installation process and following these tips on hair preparation and style maintenance will help you take advantage of the benefits this style has to offer.

This article is not sponsored by Ann Carol. 

Watch How to Get Meagan Good’s Goddess Faux Locs

I know you have seen them. Images flooding the internet when the beautiful and talented Meagan Good wore loc extensions inspired by the natural locs of Lisa Bonet. This extension style was something that has never been seen or done before. The combination of hair and technique was truly original and God inspired. In the upcoming release of the Goddess Loc Training Video I will reveal the secret behind this creation.

When it comes to creating the Goddess Loc look there are two main questions I see on social media: “How did she seal the ends and get them to look like that?” and “What kind of hair was used?”

As a master loctician, I have had the opportunity to start and maintain thousands of locs around the world. When locking hair naturally, the hair goes through a budding stage, which is when the hair starts to mat and form a round lock. Recreating the look of Lisa Bonet’s locs was tied into my understanding of the process of how hair naturally mats and forms a loc. In the training video, I reveal the steps you have to take to create the look of an authentic loc with human hair. I also show viewers how to prepare the hair to give it some texture. You can’t just use the hair the way it comes out of the pack. If you leave the hair straight and silky it won’t hold or give you the look of a natural loc. The biggest secret is the type of hair that was used to create the look.

Buying hair for goddess faux locs

The hair has been packaged as a Goddess Faux Loc Kit and is exclusively available at His and Her Hair Goods in Los Angeles. If you choose to purchase the Deluxe version of the kit, you will also get to experience products from my hair care line AnnCarol, which have been formulated with the highest quality ingredients to create a foundation for healthy hair. You can purchase your kit by calling toll free: 800-421-4417. The kits ship internationally, so no matter where you are in the world, you can create this unique and beautiful style. Inside the kit you will receive the minimum amount of hair required to complete the look. There are two different textures of human hair and two different lengths used to create this look. In the training video I will demonstrate the products needed to prepare your natural hair before installing the extensions, how to prepare the human hair to create the look of an authentic loc, and how to maintain the locs after installation. 

I am so excited that I can share my gift with the world in this way so that other women can recreate the looks that I have designed. I would love to see the style you create with your Goddess Faux Loc Kit so be sure to send me your best shot by using the #IAmAGoddess hashtag on Instagram.

Always remember to love your hair and love yourself. You are a goddess!

Follow Dr. Kari Williams here:

Dr. Kari WilliamsAnnCarol Beauty, Mahogany Revolution, and His and Her Hair

This is Why Hairstylists Tell You "No"
Photo Courtesy of Susan Chiang
I am sure you have heard the saying, “Not all money is good money.” This rings true for any professional that provides a service, because you have to know when saying “no” is the best option to save your company’s brand, image and reputation or to protect your client from a major hair disaster. Although professional stylists are required to attend school, take an exam, and receive a license that is approved and administered by the state, it is one of the few industries in which the consumers feel they know more than the professional. 

This oftentimes leads to negotiations and debates over styles, techniques, and prices. Additionally, it can breed a lack of respect for the business altogether resulting in missed appointments without notice, late cancellations, or excessive tardiness. Below are the top three reasons that may make a hairstylist deny service (and if they don’t, they should”>.

Requests for services on damaged hair

This includes all chemical services (color, texturizers, and relaxers”> heat styling services and braid/extension services. If your hair has…

  • Excessive breakage
  • Split ends 
  • Lack of elasticity 

and you want a color, heat styling, or extension services, the answer should be “No” or “Not right now, but maybe after we condition your hair back to a healthier state.” If you want multiple chemical processes performed on the same day, the answer should be “No,” and if you are getting a high lift or fashion color your stylist should explain to you that it is a multi-step process that can take a few days. The multi-step process allows you to safely achieve the desired color without completely compromising the health of the hair.

As a licensed professional it would demonstrate gross negligence if we were to provide services for a client when we know that the current condition of the hair is not healthy or strong enough to withstand certain chemical processes or styling techniques. It is our job to help guide clients in their hairstyling decisions so that they not only feel good about the way they look but to also keep the hair healthy. So if your stylist decides to refuse service for one of these reasons, trust that it’s more than likely in your hair’s best interest.

Requests for hairstyles that are not flattering

This is when, as a stylist, we have to make the best judgment call based on our level of skill, industry knowledge, taste, and reputation. Clients are walking forms of advertisement that can build your brand and increase your demand or kill your brand and put you out of business.  I have had to politely refuse some outrageous requests for hairstyles that were not an accurate reflection of the quality of work I like to produce or in alignment with what my brand represents. For example, a client wanted to wear her hair loose in the back with long braided bangs using blonde hair extensions. The answer was a resounding “No.” I tried to make alternate recommendations that would be more flattering in my opinion, but she was set on the look, so unfortunately I could not serve her. A stylist has to be able to stand behind what they create with confidence. If they don’t like what they create or it goes against their better judgment, they run the risk of disapproval or ridicule from family, friends, or complete strangers towards the client and this negative feedback can have a major impact on the stylist and their business. So if your stylist decides to refuse to style your hair a certain way, trust that it’s more than likely in your best interest.

A lack of respect for business policies and procedures

There are a number of businesses that require that you set an appointment, confirm the appointment, and arrive on time. Additionally, if you are running late or need to cancel, you are requested to notify the business so that they can make other arrangements. In the service industry, this is customary, but for some reason there is sometimes a lack of respect given to the salon industry. Stylists have to be considerate of their client’s time, but when there is excessive tardiness, no shows, and late cancellations, don’t be surprised if your stylist decides to refuse service the next time you call. This type of chronic misbehavior not only interrupts the flow of a stylists’ workday, it also interrupts the flow of their income. Once the cash flow is impacted, it can put a stylist out of business. Also, it’s polite to check in with your salon to understand their policies around children, eating, or bringing additional guests with you.

The salon environment is typically more relaxed than other businesses so clients sometimes forget that although it feels like you are hanging out, it’s not really the hang out spot. Some salons may not have the capacity to accommodate you and your guest(s”>, especially if your guests are not getting service. Some foods can be really smelly and turn off potential or existing clients.  

Also, children can be disruptive and disturb the flow of the business, so check in with the salon to see if they have designated areas for eating, guests or children. If not, you should make other arrangements before arriving to your appointment. If you neglect to do so and your stylist decides to refuse service, trust that it’s more than likely in their businesses best interest.

In conclusion, clients are the lifeblood of the salon industry. We don’t want to refuse service, we want to serve all the clients that we can handle, but mutual respect has to exist.

Formal Training in Natural Hair Styling is Not Required, but Still Important
Photo Courtesy of Mahogany Revolution Salon
There is a growing demand for natural styling and hair care in the beauty industry. Unfortunately, there are not enough trained professionals to meet the demand. Braiding, twisting, and other forms of natural hair styling are not a part of the traditional cosmetology curriculum. As a result, licensed professionals have to be intentional with investing in continuing education and specialty classes.

Each state has a governmental agency known as the board of cosmetology and barbering, also known as the state board, which sets licensing standards and regulations for the barbering and cosmetology industry. The primary mission of the state boards is to protect the health and safety of the consumer. Licensing is a form of ensuring minimum competency of the individual providing the service and regulation is established to enforce that health and safety practices are maintained when providing services to the public.

What does the law require?

In the state of California, African hair braiding (as defined in a lawsuit against the California State Board in 1997″> is not an act of cosmetology. The lawsuit specifically sited that the State’s mandated curriculum “does not teach braiding.” As a result there is an exemption in the law for hair braiders that does not require licensure or formal training in California.

There are 19 states that require some form of formal training in natural hair styling. The hours required for the licensure or certification ranges from a 6-hour online course up to 600 hours from a board approved school. Some of the states that require training do not require a practical exam and the focus is on safety and sanitation. In states like California, licensing is not required for braiding and natural hair styling. As a result, there is no formal training on proper braiding, twisting, and locking techniques. Students of cosmetology are not taught how to properly style and maintain afro-textured or curly hair that has not been altered by heat or chemicals.

It’s not required, but it’s important

If you are currently licensed or interested in becoming licensed, I suggest that you first check with your state board to see if they offer training or courses that will allow you to become licensed or certified to offer natural hair styling services to the public. Otherwise, I encourage you to seek out workshops that teach how to style and maintain natural hair. The hair industry is one of the few licensed industries that do not require continuing education to maintain licensure. Although it is not required, it is vital to your success as a professional.

A number of hair shows offer opportunities for professionals to connect with industry leaders to train on new styling techniques. If you are unable to find the training you need at a hair show, do some research on who the experts are in the area of training you need to see if they offer workshops or one-on-one training. I offer hands-on training along with some of my colleagues including Felicia Leatherwood and Talia Waajid.

The hair industry is constantly evolving, and as a licensed professional, it is important that we are investing in ourselves to improve our skills and increase our level of expertise so that we can effectively address the needs of our clients.

This is Why Hairstylists are Losing Clients
Photo Courtesy of Craving Yellow
The hair industry is always evolving. New hair trends and styling techniques make it imperative to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening so that you don’t fall behind. For years, the regular use of chemical relaxers or heat styling tools made it a requirement to visit the salon at least twice a month to maintain a hairstyle and the health of your hair. Now, more women are transitioning to chemical-free styling and opting for little to no heat. There is an abundance of information online and a variety of hair products in store that make it easy for women to maintain their hair at home. Consequently, visits to the salon have declined significantly. So what is a beauty professional supposed to do? You have to evolve with the industry and adjust your business practices. Here are the top five reasons you may be losing clients and tips you can use to maintain a successful business in the beauty industry. 

No added value with service

If you are promoting and offering the same services you did ten years ago, you are losing clients. Remember, the needs of the client are changing.

Ask yourself: Does your service offerings address the needs of your clients? What makes your service special?

You have to familiarize yourself with the needs of your clients and make updates to the services you offer. You can collect this information by asking current clients what type of services they would like to receive in salon, documenting the most requested services, or reading blogs and discussion boards to see what women want and need. If you are able to address the needs of your clients and offer something different from your competitors, you can retain your current clients and attract new ones.

Lack of hair knowledge

Some professionals rarely or never invest in continuing education once they finish school. If you have not taken the time to invest in continuing education, you might be losing clients. The current consumer and client are more empowered because they have more access to information through online sources. As a result, they may challenge you and the need for your services.

Ask yourself: Are you able to effectively communicate to clients why your service is necessary for the health of their hair? Are you able to emphasize the importance of re-booking an appointment?

As licensed professionals, we are the experts and we should be able to demonstrate that through our knowledge of hair and hair care. Our clients should feel confident that you are giving them the best advice and guidance to help them achieve their hair goals. If you are not confident in your knowledge of hair, then you will be unable to communicate to a client how they would benefit from your service and expertise. Invest in increasing your hair knowledge to keep clients in your chair.

Lack of professionalism

I must admit, the hair industry is an amazing industry to have a career in because it is so fun and exciting. Working in the salon is almost like hanging out with friends all day. If you have gotten too comfortable with your clients to the point where you have lost business acumen, you are losing clients.

Ask yourself: What are your standards of professionalism? Are you on time? Are you considerate of your client’s time?

The fun, down to earth environment of a salon can sometimes lose the element of professionalism that is required to maintain a successful business.  You have to remember that although your clients may feel like friends, they are still paying customers who expect and deserve your professionalism. Refrain from gossip, be courteous and respectful, listen to your client and never deny them the proper amount of service time. Make it your aim to please your clients and you will see their repeat business.  

Lack of customer service

Client satisfaction is the best form of advertising and a satisfied customer is a result of great customer service. If you are not taking care of your customer’s needs before, during, and after an appointment, then you are losing clients.

Ask yourself: How is your level of customer service? Do you follow up with clients? Do they get reminder calls or emails regarding their appointments? The impression you give your clients regarding your business and service starts the moment they make that first phone call to schedule an appointment or walk-in the door.

If you do not have a system in place for client intake, you could be losing clients before they sit in your chair. It is important to be pleasant and make your clients feel comfortable. Create an experience during the appointment that exceeds expectations, empower your clients by giving them maintenance tips so they can care for their hair in between appointments, and most importantly, follow up with your clients after their appointment to ensure they are pleased. Profit is derived from repeat clients, so be conscious of your client’s needs at all times and you will improve your client retention.

Lack of customer appreciation

The theme for running a successful business is repeat clients. It is their loyalty and consistency that keeps your doors open. If you are not demonstrating appreciation, then you are losing clients.

Ask yourself: Do you offer special discounts for birthdays or referrals? Do you give tokens of appreciation during holidays or set aside a customer appreciation day?

Clients regularly demonstrate their appreciation for your service by adding a tip or coming back for more service. I believe, as professionals, we should be careful not to develop a selfish attitude. It is our job to serve. The relationship between you and your client should be reciprocal, and expressing appreciation is one way to show clients that you recognize they are a valuable part of your business. Remember without clients, you cannot have a successful salon.

This article is written by Dr. Kari Williams. Dr. Kari is a licensed barber, professional hair designer & stylist, natural hair care specialist, educator, hair care products consultant, board certified trichologist through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and the Founder & CEO of Mahogany Hair Revolution Salon & Trichology Clinic. She is the current President of the California Board of Barbering & Cosmetology, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013. Dr. Kari is also the Creator and Co-Founder of AnnCarol, a line of products formulated to achieve and maintain healthy hair. Her products can be purchased at

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The Problem with the "Water Washing Method"
washing hair with water only
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
Keeping the hair and scalp clean involves the use of water. Water is required to build lather and rinse product from the hair and scalp; but did you know the type of water you use on your hair could have an impact on the effectiveness of your hair care products and the health of your hair? More than 85% of American homes have hard water. The hardest water is found in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, and southern California (Household Water Quality-Water Hardness, 1999″>.  Although the high mineral content of hard water is great for drinking and farming, it is not good for the hair. Shampoos include surfactants, which are compounds that attract dirt and oil so they can be rinsed away by water. When you are using hard water it is difficult to thoroughly clean hair and remove dirt and buildup because the metal ions in hard water are attracted to surfactants, reducing their effectiveness at cleansing. This could cause an accumulation of buildup on the hair, creating a film that will make it difficult for moisturizers and conditioners to penetrate the hair strand. The result is dry hair that is more prone to breakage. Additionally, hard water has a high pH making it more alkaline. The alkalinity of the water causes the cuticle scale on the hair strand to lift resulting in tangled hair. The roughened cuticle and increase in tangles increases incidents of breakage.

Hard water 

It’s simple to combat the effects of hard water on the hair. You could invest in a water softening system, but it’s not necessary. Cosmetic chemists have already done a lot of the work by including certain ingredients in our shampoo to help maintain their effectiveness in removing dirt, oil, and buildup from the hair and scalp when using them with hard water. Check your ingredient list and if you see EDTA and citric acid, both of these ingredients help to combat the effects of hard water on the hair. EDTA is a chelating agent that neutralizes the metal ions in hard water, making it softer so that the surfactant can do its job and leave you with clean hair. Citric acid is a weak acid that is slightly acidic and used to balance the pH of the shampoo to about 5.5. The slightly acidic pH helps the scales of the cuticle lay flat, reducing the effects of the alkalinity of hard water that causes cuticle scales to lift.

A final ingredient that was included in shampoos but has recently been deemed “bad” for the hair is sodium laurel sulfate. This strong surfactant is formulated in shampoos because it could effectively clean the hair and assist with fighting against the residue that hard water can leave behind on hair strands. Now, cosmetic chemists have found alternatives to sodium laurel sulfate or masterfully blend it with other surfactants to create an effective shampoo.

Read more: The Truth About Sulfates, According to Science

Water washing method

Not everyone is using shampoo. Some people are using only water to cleanse their hair and scalp on a regular basis. This practice is referred to as the “water washing method.” Based on my research, a clarifying shampoo is recommended every 7-8 weeks unless your scalp produces excess sebum, the hair turns grey, the ends begin to break or you develop a flaky or itchy scalp. In the meantime promoters of this method recommend massaging the hair regularly, removing sebum from the scalp by “scritching” and manipulating the sebum down the hair shaft through a process called “preening.” The concept of water washing is to promote a more affordable way of maintaining clean healthy hair by using the scalp’s natural sebum to lubricate the hair. Although I understand the intentions behind promoting this method, I find that the name and some of the information used to support it is misleading. Water is not the only substance that is used with this method, and overall, the “water washing method” doesn’t appear to be new or inventive.

Clarifying shampoo

Clarifying shampoos are used every 7-8 weeks and oils and butters are encouraged for use on the ends of the hair if they become dry. I agree with the importance of using shampoo to remove the dirt and debris that naturally accumulate on the scalp daily and increases over time. The concept of washing the hair once every 4-8 weeks is very common in the African American community. This is a result of wearing long-term styles like braids and weaves, and because black women understand that their curl pattern makes it difficult for sebum to flow freely down their hair strands. Therefore, a regimen that involves infrequent washing and supplementing sebum with the use of natural oils and butters on the ends of the hair to prevent dryness and breakage is already a common cultural practice.

Additionally, water washing advises the use of warm water to melt sebum to make it easier to smooth down the hair strands. Sebum does not melt under warm water, as the temperature has to be at least 84 degrees for sebum to melt. These are just a couple of the discrepancies that I found in reviewing the method, but most importantly some individuals have underactive or overactive sebaceous glands that trigger scalp disorders in the form of seborrhea or seborrheic dermatitis. The flakes associated with these scalp disorders are often misidentified as dandruff. If this is the case, a clarifying shampoo will not suffice and a medicated shampoo is needed to manage and soothe the symptoms.

As always, I am a promoter of clean hair and scalp. Water is an important element in hair care and the maintenance of healthy hair. When choosing a hair care regimen remember everyone has a unique genetic makeup that determines different curl patterns, different textures and a different rate of hair growth. So keep it simple and if you need guidance, seek help from a hair care professional.

Read more: Why People are Replacing Shampoo with Water

Ask Dr. Kari: Should You Grease and Oil Your Scalp?
Photo Courtesy of Keshia Langevillier
Greasing the scalp and slathering oils on tight coils and curly strands has historical roots for black Americans; but as we have become more knowledgeable about the benefits of natural oils, oiling the scalp has become a common practice among people of all ethnicities to maintain a healthy scalp. In the book Hair Story by Ayanna Byrd and Lori Tharps, there is an extensive look at the history of hair care practices among black Americans. During slavery, blacks no longer had access to the palm oil they would use in Africa to care for their hair, so they began to use other oil-based products like “bacon grease and butter to condition and soften the hair, prepare it for straightening and make it shine.” Fast forward to today, and the use of grease continues to be used among black Americans to add shine, protect the hair from the hot comb, and lubricate the scalp.
Grease vs. oil

Although the terms “grease” and “oil” are oftentimes used synonymously, for the purpose of this article I am going to define the terms, because they actually represent two different categories of products.

  • Grease is a term used to describe heavy pomades that are thick in consistency. They typically include ingredients like petroleum and mineral oil.
  • Oils are lighter than grease and are produced in a liquid form. They typically include natural oils that absorb into the scalp and hair. 

Is greasing your scalp the solution?

We put a lot of emphasis on the scalp when it comes to use of grease and oil. In addition to the historical references, applying grease to the scalp comes from the belief that if the scalp is dry or flaky, adding grease will cure the dryness and get rid of the flakes, but this practice can actually make the scalp condition worse. Grease will provide a temporary shine or give the appearance that flakes have disappeared, but in reality the grease can clog hair follicles, accumulate on the scalp, and plaster flakes to the scalp, only making the existing scalp condition worse. If you are experiencing the symptoms of a dry or flaky scalp, it is more likely a result of an imbalance in your scalp’s pH or a dysfunction of the sebaceous glands. It is important to first consult with someone about the cause of the symptoms and from there you will be given recommendations that can effectively treat the symptoms and give you long term results. If you are going to apply something to the scalp to assist in balancing the pH of the scalp you should stick to oils.

applying grease to the scalp comes from the belief that if the scalp is dry or flaky, adding grease will cure the dryness and get rid of the flakes, but this practice can actually make the scalp condition worse.

How do you use oils?

Oil your ends

In general, oiling the scalp is not necessary because our sebaceous glands produce sebum. Sebum is a slightly acidic oil that lubricates our strands closest to the scalp and guards against lost moisture. Sebum is able to effectively lubricate straighter hair strands from the root to the end. In curlier hair patterns, the sebum cannot effectively travel around the loops, curves, and coils in the hair. As a result, the hair closest to the root is well lubricated, but the ends of the hair still lack lubrication, making them susceptible to breakage. To protect the hair from damage and to keep it healthy, the focus should be applying oil to the ends of the hair.

Moisturize daily

We need to moisturize our hair daily. A moisturizer should contain water, oils for lubrication and sealing in moisture, a stimulant (encourage cell replication”>, and optional humectants (which pull moisture from the air”>. Heavy greases, pomades, or products that contain petroleum and mineral oil coat the hair but do not moisturize it. Avoid leave-in conditioners and products with protein for daily application. Too much protein has a drying effect.

Add essential oil

A working knowledge of the use and benefits of certain oils can enhance your current hair care regimen and add a boost to the ingredients in your current products. Several drops of an essential oil or extract to a commercial product or a customized blend of your own can enhance the quality and condition of your hair and scalp.

Wet and warm hair

When using essential oils, it is best for the head and hair to be wet and warm. Warming of essential oils can kill their healing properties and is not required for them to be effective.

Use a carrier oil

Carrier oil is used to dilute essential oils when creating a mixture of oils. The carrier oil protects the skin from the potency of the essential oils, which can burn the skin or cause severe reactions if used alone. Carrier oil also helps with even distribution of the essential oil and smooth absorption into the skin and scalp. Ninety percent of an oil mixture should be a carrier oil and the remaining 10% is your essential oil. When creating your mixture the essential oil may be difficult to detect, but once the mixture sits overnight or for a couple of days, the oils combine and it’s easier to detect the smell of an essential oil.

Common carrier oils and essential oils

  • Coconut oil– an emollient for all hair types and softens the hair
  • Jojoba oil– a waxy substance that is similar to sebum, has a high penetration into the scalp, and balances the pH of the scalp and controls flaking
  • Extra virgin olive oil– absorbs well, soothes to the scalp, contains vitamin E and fatty acids omega -3, -6 and -9, and provides moisture, elasticity and shine to the hair
  • Shea butter- an excellent emollient that prevents dryness, strengthens the hair, regenerates skin cells, helps with healing, and absorbs well into the hair and scalp
  • Castor oil– contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and is rich in omega-6 essential fatty acids, which boosts blood circulation to the follicles leading to faster hair growth

These are just some of the common oils that you will see in your product. They can also be used to create your own formulations. Remember, most essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil and should not be used alone, because it can burn the skin or cause a serious reaction. Let’s explore some of these oils and herbs:

  • Peppermint– has antiseptic properties, stimulates the scalp and creates a cooling effect. This oil restores balance to an oily scalp. It should be avoided on clients who are pregnant because of the antispasmodic properties (can cause muscle spasms”>.
  • Rosemary– is a strong stimulant for hair growth, has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, and is great for dandruff
  • Tea tree oil– is highly effective antifungal; can create a powerful soothing and cleansing agent.  It also stimulates the scalp and fights dandruff and flaking.

Having a working knowledge of oils and their properties helps you to choose the best products so that you can achieve your hair goals. Don’t want to mix your own oils? Try the Peppermint Chamomile and Coconut Lavender from my new hair care line AnnCarol

Have you tried oil and grease on your scalp? How do you use oils now?

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Dr. Kari Talks ACV, Baking Soda, Dr. Bronner’s, and Shampoo
Photo of Hannah Faith by Christina Afrique
There is so much information available about products you should use and the regimens you should follow to achieve healthy hair. Hair is a sign of health, vitality, and youth. These are all desirable traits, so who wouldn’t want a full head of healthy hair? If you are on a quest for healthy, full, shiny hair, you need to have a strong foundation, and that begins with a healthy scalp. If the scalp is unhealthy, then the hair will be unhealthy, or even worse—there will be no hair at all. On the other hand, if you take the right steps to maintaining a healthy scalp, your hair will flourish. In part 1 of this scalp care series we will address some pros and cons of some common products and ingredients used to maintain a healthy scalp.

To maintain a healthy scalp we must understand the basic function of the scalp. The scalp consists of skin cells that are constantly replicating and shedding to produce new cells on the scalp. Like the skin on the rest of our body, this process happens synchronously and microscopically; it is invisible to the naked eye. It is only when something disrupts this process that scalp problems arise. These problems manifest in the forms of flaking, pimples, or bumps on the scalp and severe itching. Any of these symptoms can be a sign that there is a need to change your diet, hair regimen, or there is a medical issue.

Dandruff is the typical sign of an unhealthy scalp. Dandruff can be a result of stress, extreme weather conditions, nutritional deficiencies, or other scalp conditions. The most common cause of dandruff is the overgrowth of a fungus on the scalp. When dirt and product residue accumulate on the scalp and is not cleansed regularly, it becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi that leads to a lot of scalp discomfort. The introduction of cleansing conditioners or co-washes into the hair care market has generated a lot of confusion, misinformation, and resulted in a lot of people discontinuing the use of regular shampoos. This is not a healthy practice to maintain a healthy scalp. Although cleansing conditioners contain mild cleansing agents, they are not effective in completely removing buildup and residue from the scalp. It is like taking a shower with lotion. Get the picture? Cleansing conditioners are perfect to use in between regular shampoo days to remove sweat or product buildup, but should not completely replace your use of shampoo in your hair care regimen.

What About Sulfates?

Cleansing conditioners are not the only things preventing a lot of women from using shampoo. As more information on the negative impact sulfates can have on the health of the hair surfaces, more people are getting rid of the products they have been using for years. The primary culprits are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS/SLES”> and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS”>. These ingredients are the harshest sulfates and found to cause skin irritation and dryness. The research on these ingredients has created a “sulfate-free” market, resulting in several product companies who use the marketing claim. The reality is not all sulfates are bad and some shampoos still contain sulfates. Sulfates are surfactants, which means they remove dirt and oil. Cosmetic chemists combine them with gentler surfactants to create a mild but effective product. Some of these gentle surfactants are:

  • Coco glucoside
  • Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate
  • Sodium cocoyl isethionate

Additionally, it is the repeated exposure to sulfates that will have the most impact on the health of your hair and scalp.

Read more: The Truth About Sulfates, According to Science

Alternative Scalp Cleansing Methods

An alternative method used to cleanse the scalp is the apple cider vinegar (ACV”> rinse. The property of ACV that make it effective in removing buildup from the scalp (not hair”> is the acetic acid that is formed during the fermenting process. The acetic acid is a potent antimicrobial that can kill some types of bacteria. This is a homeopathic way of removing buildup and dead skin cells from the scalp. Using baking soda as a cleanser can be really harsh on the hair. Baking soda is a base with a high pH, which means it will strip your hair and scalp of oil and buildup, but will also raise the cuticle scales on your hair strands, causing frizz and possibly tangles. Most people will recommend the ACV rinse after using the baking soda to smooth the cuticle. The acidic properties in ACV make it great for balancing out the pH of the hair, but the rinse alone lacks the moisturizers and proteins that are among the ingredients in a great pH balanced shampoo and can cause dryness. Therefore, you should try deep conditioning regularly to maintain moisture balance in the hair.

Lastly, we must address the use of diluted Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, and I don’t use the word diluted lightly. The soap is so concentrated that most preparations suggest a ratio of 4:1 and include the incorporation of oils, butters, or milks to add more moisturizing properties to the mixture. I know there are a lot of kitchen chemists who enjoy blending concoctions for their hair and scalp, but to simplify things, a professional cosmetic chemist has already done the work for you in the formulation of pH balanced clarifying and moisturizing shampoos. So if you want to cut out the guesswork, time, and extra investment in essential oils, simply incorporate a shampoo into your hair care regimen that will gently cleanse your scalp, add moisture, and help to create a foundation for healthy hair.

Read more: Why Your Moisturizer Doesn’t Work

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Do you have more questions about cleansers?