“Get The Facts on Keratin Treatments” by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

Get The Facts On Keratin Treatments

by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

Keratin is the building block of hair. It is a natural protein found within the structure of the hair strand. It binds to hair, reinforcing the structure, strengthening the hair, creating a shinier appearance and ultimately promoting healthier hair.

Keratin Treatments claim to not only provide stronger shinier hair strands, but also tempt curly girls with the promise of reducing frizz with a straighter look that can last up to 3 months and not damage their curls.

Fact check: Keratin does not straighten the hair.  Therefore, there are chemicals in the product that are creating a straight hair strand that can ultimately lead to excessive breakage and hair loss if you are not careful.

Formaldehyde was the active ingredient that had a lot of manufacturers of Keratin Treatments under fire because the product was causing harm to the professionals who inhaled it and created health risks for the consumers. As a result, “formaldehyde-free” treatments have been introduced the market. A lot of consumers are being misled with this advertising. While they are hoping to get a healthier alternative to the straightening treatment, the truth is—they are not. These products contain glutaraldehyde (or glutaral) or glyoxal which are another form of formaldehyde and a part of the aldehyde family. These chemicals assist in the process of straightening the hair. These chemicals are carcinogens and are not good for humans to ingest or have repeated or long term exposure to through touching or breathing. Other companies who promote smoothing or keratin treatments may not use these specific chemicals but other compounds in the aldehyde family of chemicals. When these chemicals are heated past 420 degrees they have a similar chemical reaction, as would traditionally based formaldehyde. In addition, the heating tools used to seal the product into the strand are so hot; alone they can cause damage and breakage to the hair strand.

These products are not FDA approved and there are reported allergic reactions on the scalp and hair loss. Unlike relaxers and perms that chemically and permanently alter the bonds in the hair strand to produce a straight hair, the aldehyde compounds in keratin treatments sit on the strand and is slowly washed away every time you shampoo. The problem with this is you are walking around with a head full of formaldehyde (or some form of it) for weeks.  You are sleeping with, eating next to, and absorbing this chemical until your next shampoo or two. Unlike other chemical processes that are on the hair a short time and stop after it is properly shampooed and rinsed out, there is an ongoing chemical reaction taking place in your hair with the “keratin treatments.”

I advise you to understand all of the risks associated with Smoothing and Keratin Treatments before choosing them as a temporary styling option. I know some women who have no complaints and get great results, but this is not guaranteed for everyone. Anytime you apply heat to your hair you are taking the risk that your curls may not return consistently throughout your head.  I know that a lot of curly girls want to preserve their curls, so this treatment may not be the way you want to go.

Check out this article on the problems some consumers encountered with a Keratin Treatment: http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2013/10/class-action-lawsuit-unilevers-keratin-smoothing-kit-heads-trial/

Dr. Kari Williams is a Trichologist, Licensed Stylist and Natural Hair Care Specialist. Learn more about Dr. Kari at www.drkariwilliams.com

Heat Damage and Repair Remedies by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

Heat Damage and Repair Remedies

 by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

A number of women are concerned of the type of damage that can be caused by heat styling and the options of repairing the damage to the hair shaft. 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. In healthy hair, the scales should lie flat and compact. There are several ways these scales can be damaged.

Friction caused by combing and brushing; rubber bands and tight hair clips; wrapping a roller too tightly and heat styling 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 or diffuse hair loss.

The heat from a hot curling iron left on too long or a blow dryer too hot and too close to the hair will cause the hair to become brittle and the cortex can possibly melt. So what do you do to repair the damage that is caused by excessive heat styling and mechanical damage?

To correct this form of hair loss, you must cut off the damaged part of the hair shaft and transition to a style that will create less stress on your hair. There are products on the market that will provide temporary repair to the cuticle, but the key word is “temporary.”  Products that claim to fix damaged hair only put a Band-Aid on the problem because the real damage is at the cortex level of the hair shaft. Removing the damaged portion of the hair completely is the only guaranteed way to get the healthy hair results you desire.

There are a few steps you can take to prevent the damage that comes from excessive heat styling:

  1. Change your hair styling routine- Limit the use of heated instruments on your hair and also try using them on lower settings
  2. Choose 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
  3. Don’t forget the importance of moisture- One of the main sources of hair damage is dryness. Without sufficient moisture the hair shaft becomes dry, brittle and susceptible to breakage. Make sure you are using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. When conditioning your hair, deep condition, which means to leave the conditioner on 10-15 minutes and incorporate steam or heat for deeper penetration of the hair shaft.

Dr. Kari is a Trichologist and Owner of Mahogany Hair Revolution in Los Angeles, CA. For more information visit: www.drkariwilliams.com and www.mahoganyrevolution.com

Hair Loss in HIV/AIDS Patients: Treating the Triple Threat by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

Hair Loss in HIV/AIDS Patients: Treating the Triple Threat

by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

Any time your body experiences extreme stress, your hair changes.

HIV/AIDS patients face a triple-threat. The high risk of infection, the impact of medications and accelerated aging can increase stress and ultimately cause hair loss.

The best weapon in the fight against hair loss is information and preparation.

Hair is an “accessory organ.” The body does not need it to survive. In HIV/AIDS patients the body fights daily to defend vital organs like your heart, lungs, and liver. Naturally, it may not have much energy left to help protect your hair.

When bacteria and fungal infections attack the scalp and deprive hair follicles of much needed nutrients, the effects are largely visible and reminiscent of more common hair loss disorders that come with age. Even medications meant to ease other symptoms and attack the virus can lead to dry, brittle, and weaker strands.

Hair loss can resemble androgenic alopecia – male patterned hair loss – or alopecia areata – irregular bald spots.

To help slow this process and/or repair it, HIV/AIDS patients should practice the following:

  • Avoid dying, perming, or straightening your hair
  • Try to reduce stress whenever possible to prevent accelerated aging

Check with your doctor to determine if your hair loss can be treated with medications like Minoxidil (Rogaine) or Finasteride (Propecia).

Contracting HIV/AIDS is complicated; as you manage internal changes the external side effects can be emotionally charged as well.

Practice safe sex and get tested, regularly. Choose to be healthy and let’s eradicate this disease from our community one person at a time.

“Stress Will Make Your Hair A Mess” by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

Stress Will Make Your Hair A Mess

by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

The holiday seasons are upon us. Money is tight and bills still have to be paid. We experience different levels of stress on a daily basis, but heightened levels of stress can affect our health, interrupt the hair growth cycle and ultimately—make your hair a mess!

Stress has a profound affect on our bodies manifested in the forms of cancers, hypertension and even weight gain. The hair is the barometer of health so when there are imbalances in your body the hair will signal this imbalance. It may become dry, brittle and begin to break easily. Styles won’t have the same flair they used to have and your hair will look very dull. All of these elements produce a series of really bad hair days, but usually the hair will begin to fall out and rebounding from this form of hair loss requires a lot of patience and discipline.

There are two different types of stress-physiological and emotional. The physiological stress can be signaled by nutritional deficiencies or hormonal fluctuations due to diet, medications, illnesses or lifestyle changes. When this form of stress presents itself in the body it interrupts the hair growth cycle by causing large numbers of hair to enter the telogen (shedding) phase at once.  This leaves patchy hair loss throughout the scalp. Typically, once the stress is addressed and physiological balance is restored, the hair will grow back.

Now the emotional stress is the form of stress we are all familiar with. It is the emotional stress that we are constantly struggling to balance. There is an emotional connection to physiological stress. The short-term, everyday emotional stress that we encounter does not cause hair loss, but it’s the emotional triggers from long periods of stress that lead to bad habits and create physiological imbalances that cause hair loss. For example, the emotional stress in the form of grief when someone dies does not cause hair loss, but the sudden weight loss, lack of sleep and improper intake of nutrients as a result of the grief causes the hair loss.

There is a psychological disorder called Trichotillomania. This disorder is characterized by an irresistible urge to pull hair out from the scalp, eyebrows or other areas of the body to deal with negative or uncomfortable feelings such as stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness or fatigue. In this case, seek help with a psychologist or therapist. The root of the problem must be addressed to see improvement with this hair loss disorder.

Overall, we must find healthy ways to deal with stress. Yes, it affects the hair, but it impacts our entire body. Not everyone loses hair from stress, but it may manifest in the body in other ways. If you are experiencing forms of hair loss and you are under some form of stress, I encourage you to see your healthcare provider. They may be able to help you identify the stressor that is causing the hair loss, but most importantly rule out any additional systemic conditions that could be contributing to your hair loss. Hair loss is an early sign for more that 20 different diseases. Once the cause of stress is identified, you can gain control over your emotions and find productive ways to channel them-your hair should return to normal.

“The Truth About Transitioning” by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

The Truth About Transitioning

by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

 Transitioning can be a very challenging process. The Internet is full of amateur opinions, and information that can be intimidating, inaccurate and out right confusing.  It is incredibly difficult to decipher which techniques; styles and products will work best for your specific hair type. Many women who set out to transition to a chemical-free hairstyle get lost, feel defeated and ultimately-give up.  I am going to outline 4 Truths about Transitioning to help women have a greater understanding of what to expect on their transitioning journey:

 1. Straightening the hair with hot combs and flat irons on a consistent basis can cause the same amount of damage to the hair as a chemical straightener. Many women who have decided to no longer use relaxers continue to straighten their hair with a variety of heat styling tools.  Using heat on a consistent basis will cause the protein bonds in your hair strands to break permanently leaving straight, fragile ends. Women who have started their natural hair journey may sometimes find themselves starting over again if they straighten their hair too often. My advice: If you want to straighten your hair to celebrate its versatility, do it on occasion and minimize the amount of heat you are using to straighten your curls.

2. You may have more than one curl pattern in your head.  Lots of women have no idea what their natural curl pattern looks like. There are thousands of pictures and videos of women describing and showing off their curls. We begin to create images and even hopes of what our curls will look like once we shed the straight ends. Its important to remember that every curl is different and your hair may not fit into a simple 3a or 4b description. Due to genetics you may have a variety of curl patterns through out your head. These diverse curls will determine the styling and product routine you may need to adopt to create the style that makes you feel most comfortable. My advice: Seek the assistance of a professional who can help you understand your curl pattern and texture. Getting a realistic picture of what YOUR hair can do will help eliminate any discouragement you may feel when discovering your curls do not resemble Traci Ellis Ross’s.

3. Everyone’s hair growth cycle is different, so your hair can grow anywhere from ¼ of an inch to ½ an inch a month.  It is so easy to get trapped in the maze of comparison. Your friend or colleague who started their transition journey at the same time as you may now have curls that stretch pass their chin and yours are still at the top of your ear. There are several factors that affect hair growth. Some of those factors include health, medications and hormones; but sometimes it is genetic factors that cause some women’s hair to grow faster than others. My advice: Monitor your hair growth cycle by approximating the length your hair has grown after a month. Protective styles like braids and twists provide a good way to measure how much growth you have achieved after 6-8 weeks. If you determine that you are not achieving much length or that your hair is not growing past a certain length, there may be other factors affecting your hair growth and you should consult with your Trichologist, Licensed Cosmetologist and/or Medical Doctor.

4. If you do not do the Big Chop, it can take 12-18 months to fully transition back to your natural curl. Depending on how much straight or relaxed ends you have to trim away, getting back to your natural curl will take time. This process of transitioning will be a big test of your patience. To help the transition from straight to curly go faster, protective styles are a great way to make time fly. Surrounding yourself with women who have gone through the process, are going through the process or who are big supporters of your process will also be a big help. Stay encouraged and don’t give-up. Rediscovering your natural curls will provide you with a great sense of freedom and accomplishment.

To get more information about Transitioning, download: “The Journey Back: How To Transition Back To Your Natural Curl.”  Download your copy now at: www.drkariwilliams.com/books

*Receive a special discount on the purchase of the book using code: NaturalChica

Offer expires Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Download your copy at: www.drkariwilliams.com/books