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I recently had the chance to talk to Dr. Kari Williams about all things hair. And to be clear, Dr. Williams is not just any ol’ random delivering advice on your hair needs. She’s a licensed barber, a natural hair care specialist, a Board Certified Trichologist, the CEO and founder of Mahogany Hair Revolution Salon and Trichology Clinic, and serves as President of the Board for the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. And did I mention that she does the hair of Brandy, Jill Scott and Willow Smith? She’s no joke.

And that’s why she’s giving a major presentation for Kinky Hair Unlocked, a hair care symposium taking place in Atlanta on April 24. The event will educate women on how to tend to their hair needs in order to achieve healthy hair. I talked to Dr. Kari about what folks in Atlanta can expect from her presentation, and obtained some major insight on all the hair issues we’ve all been dealing with.

I’ll be posting more of her advice as the week(s) go on, but for now, here’s what she had to say about why we shouldn’t run from sulfates and silicones, and the right and wrong way to rock braids and faux locs.

What Myths She Hopes To Dispel At Kinky Hair Unlocked

It’s bringing together the top tier experts and influencers in our industry. What makes us different is that we have background knowledge. Anytime I’ve done events in the past with other bloggers, I always tell the attendees, it’s great that a community has been built around haircare, specifically the natural hair care industry where women can tap into one another and get tips, suggestions. But what has happened with the influx of a lot of bloggers and people trying to experiment and do a lot of things is that it’s created a lot of myths and misunderstandings. What’s going to make this event different is that we’re bringing together these experts, myself being one of them, to really give consumers real knowledge. My hope, and my presentation, is to dispel a lot of myths. My presentation is pecifically going to be about the science behind hair care, but most importantly, what’s in your products. And really, we’re going to look at the ingredients in your products and try to understand what those ingredients really mean and how it can benefit you and your hair type to ultimately create a foundation to help your hair grow healthy. I want to generate a conversation, especially when it comes to the topic of silicones and sulfates. I know that when a lot of people begin to pay more attention to the labels and what’s actually in products, suddenly sulfates and silicones became the bad guy for hair. A lot of people were attributing scalp discomfort and hair breakage to these particular ingredients without fully understanding how they’re formulated in their products, and the benefits they can receive when these particular ingredients are used in moderation and formulated correctly.

Why Sulfates And Silicones Really Aren’t So Bad

Sulfates are actually derived from coconuts. It’s this type of information that I want to share with the audience. I also want to challenge the audience. If we’re looking at specific ingredients that we see all the time and we put the product back on the shelf because we’re like, “Uh oh, I see a sulfate,” or “Uh oh, I see something that has a cone in it and I don’t like that,” or “Uh oh, I see the word alcohol and I don’t want that.” A lot of the time, when we see the word alcohol, those are actually emulsifiers. But we don’t understand the chemistry as consumers. So you see alcohol and you think drying. No, that’s simply an emulsifier so that the oils and waters can mix.

On Doing Brandy’s Braids

I’m her regular stylist. I’m so humbled and blessed to be her main braider. I tell her all the time, “Girl, I can’t believe I’m now giving you the braids, because when I was younger I wanted the braids.”

The Right And Wrong Way To Do Protective Braids

You can wear a braid style up to 8-10 weeks. If you’re going to wear them for the max amount of time, I highly recommend that you get a touch-up between four and six weeks. A touch-up means getting your hairline re-braided. The reason why this is important is because that’s the area that’s manipulated the most and that’s the area that suffers the most damage because we’re manipulating it the most, as far as pulling it back into styles.

The hair around the hairline is the most fragile. So when you think about adding an extension, whether it’s a braid or a faux loc, that’s weight on a small section of hair. And the more your hair grows out, the more fragile that hair becomes because instead of it being anchored to your scalp, it’s now hanging on loose hair, which weakens those strands. That’s the common cause of the traction and breakage we see around the hairline. So typically, after four and six weeks — because the hair can grow up to half an inch a month — you’ll have some new growth, and enough new growth where you can go around the hairline, touch it up, and now you can wear the style for another month without compromising the health of your hairline.

Why Faux Locs Need To Be Treated Differently

Faux locs, you can go a bit longer. What people like about faux locs is that the older they get, the more natural they look. Because of the dual layer and process, I tell my clients with faux locs that they can go up to seven weeks before they need to come in for a touch-up. My faux loc clients will wear their faux locs up to three months. I tell them that four months is pushing it. It can cause some matting and some breakage when they’re taking out the locs. But up to three months is fine, but definitely, get a touch-up in between that time to help with the health of your hairline.

If You Can Use Faux Locs To Grow Real Locs

You can. There’s a different technique I encourage you to use–and different hair. With the popularity of faux locs, synthetic hair is used to create the look and it’s more affordable. But if you want to actually start locs from faux locs, I recommend using human, afro, kinky hair. It’s going to blend better into your natural hair, and it’s not going to be as heavy.

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