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Curly Nikki

Natural Hair and Extenstions with Shedelle Holmes

By January 27th, 202117 Comments

Natural Hair and Extenstions with Shedelle Holmes
Lately I’ve received an influx of emails inquiring about the role of wigs and weaves in a natural hair care or transitioning routine. Folks want to know if they’re a safe way to protect their hair and achieve growth- – especially if boredom or frustration has become an issue. I’ve never worn a weave and must admit that I don’t know much about them, although I have seen several natural YouTubers achieve great lengths with them.

I recently caught up with celebrity stylist Shedelle Holmes, a hair extensions expert that has styled for Naomi Campbell, America’s Next Top Model, and NY Fashion Week to name a few. She dished on traction alopecia, her fav products, and the potential benefits of incorporating weaves into a natural hair routine.

How often do you work with natural hair? Are any your clients naturally curly underneath their wigs/extensions.

S: I work with natural hair on regular basis and believe it or not, the majority of my clients are actually natural under their weaves! I love working with texture- – I look at it more like a mini-project, rather than a challenge, no sweat! However, I find that it’s not always easy to convince a new client that natural is best when wearing a weave and I have to instill in them “healthier hair care”. It can be a bit hard for them to adjust to, but once I explain the benefits they begin to warm up to the idea. My clients love the fact that they’re natural now. Your hair is so much stronger and healthier in its natural state!

CN: What is your favorite product line, and why?

S: I would have to say I have favorite products from different lines. I’m a big fan of Ojon, Rene Furterer and Kerestase. Ojon for its moisturizing benefits, Rene Furterer for it hair growth treatments and scalp purifying properties and Kerestase for its amazing heat protectant products and shampoos.

CN: I see you’ve worked with the lovely Naomi Campbell! We’ve all seen the alarming pics circling the web- – years of keeping up with industry standards has obviously taken its toll on her edges. Can you tell us about traction alopecia… care, styling in the presence of it, prevention, etc.?

Natural Hair and Extenstions with Shedelle Holmes
S: Yes, I’ve had the opportunity to style Naomi for Bravo Tv’s Rachel Zoe Project (Season 3) and she is a very sweet person! Traction alopecia is a condition that mainly effects African American women and is a condition Naomi is suffering from. It is a result of excessive pulling along the hair line due to constant braiding or weaving and can even occur with the use of chemicals such as relaxers. The best way to avoid traction alopecia is to cease further pressure to the hair and hair follicles. If the pulling is stopped before there’s scarring of the scalp and permanent damage to the root, hair usually grows back normally. Keep the hair as unrestricted as possible and allow your hair to flow freely. If you’re suffering from a mild case of traction alopecia, it can take up to 6 months to achieve healthy re-growth. Avoid using chemicals such as relaxers and/or color during this time.

A great scalp treatment is Rene Furterers RF 80 for sudden hair loss. Applied once a week for 3 months the RF80 stimulates hair growth.

When weaving, the braiding pattern is the most important factor. It determines the amount of tension the client will feel and how flat the weave will lay against the head. The edges of the hair are the most vulnerable to breakage and pulling, that’s why the braiding pattern is key to reduce tension around this area. The best way to protect the edges of your hair is to avoid braiding it in and leaving some out, enough that you have coverage.

With that in mind, do you have any advice for naturals or transitioners seeking to use weaves or lace fronts as a protective style (preparation, maintenance, moisture, etc)? Is it a recommended way to achieve growth?

Wearing wigs and weaves can definitely be beneficial to your hair when transitioning from a relaxer or even if you’re already natural! It allows for growth, protection from hot styling tools and even protection against environmental factors such as UV rays from the sun.

The key to wearing a weave is to consult with a professional stylist who is knowledgeable and skilled. When weaving, the braiding pattern is the most important factor. It determines the amount of tension you will feel and how flat the weave will lay against your head. The edges of your hair are the most vulnerable to breakage and pulling, that’s why the braiding pattern is key to reduce tension around this area. The best way to protect the edges of your hair is to avoid braiding it in and leaving some out, enough that you have coverage. Cleanse your scalp once a week and make sure to apply a leave-in conditioner directly to your natural hair before sitting under a hooded drier and allow your braids to dry completely. I recommend my clients to keep their weaves in for no longer than 6 weeks-2 months.

Wigs are a convenient styling option but can cause hair loss and tension around the hairline. The severity of hair loss around the edges can vary depending on the type of wig you’re wearing. Lace front wigs can do major damage if it is not put on or removed properly. Overtime, daily use of the adhesive or tape can begin to thin out the hair line and/or deplete it.

If you’re wearing a wig that has clips on the inner lining to keep it in position, it may be best to have your stylist remove the traditional wig comb clips that snap and replace them with the wired wig combs. This way, there won’t be any pulling along your hairline. Also have your stylist customize the wig further by lining the inner part with silk or satin. This will help maintain your hairs moisture. Remember, take the wig off at night, let your hair breathe when your home!

Natural Hair and Extenstions with Shedelle Holmes
Tell us about your salon and how the Average Joe can get an appointment with you.

I’m currently freelancing at Chelsea’s five-star salon Loft26Salon in NYC. I absolutely love it there! Its a relaxing experience for clients and a great work environment. I will be opening my own boutique salon in 2011, so I’m super excited about that! Clients can contact me directly for an appointment, just visit my website!

Have you worn extensions since going natural? Did you use them during your transition?

Share your experiences… the good and the bad!


  • Anonymous says:

    Sometimes(not often)i use a wig, when i want a little different there not is so exspensive.
    I dont know if i should feel bad, lol? But what then when my hair get the same length will it then be the same as the wig. But offcourse there is a big different between natural hair and syntetich hair, and a wig will never really be "yours".

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the great information CN and Shedelle!! I'm in the New York area and will check out your site.

  • Georgia says:

    Great info! Thanks!

  • Anonymous says:

    Very informative. Thanks! ~KF519

  • luvmyboys says:

    I love this article. Great Information. I am natural now. I did the big chop after transitioning for 1 year. I had braids in my hair for the last five weeks and took them out. I had soooo much shedding. I almost cried. I have been seriously deep conditioning and protecting my hair at night to get myself back track. Thanks CN for the great website.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've been natural all of my life and always pull out my trust lace front sally when I'm feeling pissed off at my mop. sometimes it helps to hide it away cause you appreciate it more when you miss it for a while.


  • Kimmy says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've never worn a wig but I'm tempted to get a curly one to give myself a break. I think I'd feel silly in it, like a costume or something. I tried braids when I was relaxed and my hair broke off something fierce.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've been thinking of getting kinky twists because I'm busy with school and tired of styling my super coily hair. I think it would be a much needed break. I use the RF line and love it, it keeps my hair strong.

  • Tanya says:

    Excellent article and tips. Everytime I see that photo of Naomi, I cringe. Ouch.

  • Anonymous says:

    I also transitioned with a weave. Best decision I ever made. I deep treated my hair in between weaves and had them put in by a professional and they were never pulling my edges. I transitioned for 14 months and my hair flourished. Just make sure you don't try to do it yourself or even get a friend or kitchentician to do it, you get what you pay for.

  • Kells says:

    Why is every one so negative all of a sudden? This is a great article and the stylist didn't say anything to garner such a response. Curly Nikki has several articles written by a dermatologist that touched on the topic.

    Everyone has different expertise! Dr. Perry wouldn't know how to style hair and many stylists unfortunately don't know the science behind it. The woman recommended some products and gave some great tips. I appreciate it!

  • Anonymous says:

    I also think that what is ALWAYS lacking from these discussions is advice from an actual medical professional. Hair loss can be related to medical issues(and many kinds of alopecia, including traction, are frequently permanent), and if you have damaged your skin and scalp, you need to see a doctor (depending on the nature of the problem, that could include, but not be limited to, a dermatologist, an endocrinologist, etc).
    I'm kind of tired thinking that cosmetologists possess any medical training or knowledge. They have licenses, not degrees, and rarely have I met any who actually understood anything related to the chemistry behind the things that they use on your hair. The people who develop FDA approved products (and yes, cosmetics and beauty products are included in those regulations), have PhDs.
    There is so much junk science being spread on the internet by self-proclaimed experts. People freak out about their hair "shedding" which is a natural process that your skin and hair go through daily. I don't know who got people thinking that no hair is supposed to ever fall out, but unless you are balding or your hair is thinning, it's okay (and if you don't see a bulb at the end, the hair has broken which is another issue entirely).
    Do your own homework, and then go to someone who actually has spent a lifetime learning this stuff. Your doctor, regardless of race, had to learn about different structures in your body, and this includes your hair.
    If I ever had issues with my hair and/or scalp, I'd start there instead of asking a beautician.
    I just wish more REAL science was injected into these discussions instead of these silly internet myths and speculation.

  • socialitedreams says:

    I use wigs as protective styling and my hair is thriving 😀 I wash, condition, and moisturize well, then put on a satin do-rag and then the wig. I don't use a wig cap, just my satin do-rag. Not tight and looks great! Then moisturize and seal every day or every other day, then use jane carter scalp serum every 3-4 days. Easy as pie. I don't use lace fronts, just regular wigs


  • Kimmy says:

    This article gave great information in regards to the do's and don’ts of the wearing of weaves/wigs, and how to rebound from traction alopecia. The only issue I have with the article is the product referenced stating it stimulates hair growth. As we all know, hair grows from the inside out. You must promote hair growth from within (diet, exercise, hydration, etc). Is there a medical ingredient in this product approved by the FDA that proves this claim(i.e. Rogaine)? I understand it’s a marketing ploy that feeds into our desires to buy into the hype that a product will magically fix our hair issues. I used to be one of those consumers, but not anymore. Education is power 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    This was an excellent article. The average woman who does not have a educated hairtsylist who works with natural hair as a friend or does not have alot of funds should probably consider the big chop and wear their hair that way or wear a regular wig and not a lace front they cost quite alot of money (about $150-up and the up keep will run your money as well along with eventually having to replace that one in 3-5 months or so). I personally do not go to beauty supply stores anymore that are not black owned, it's my preference, other nationalities of people are making billions of dollars off of our insecurities it has gotten so bad that it is hard for black people to break into the black hair care market, also most of what they sell is hair and straightening products, and out of all the shelves in the store one shelf I've noticed in your typical back neighborhood beauty supply store has healthy products, and they usually don't keep them regularly stocked. Another suggestion I have is to use protective styles during transitioning like twists (instead of wash and go's) research Carol's Daughter, Deva Curl, and my favorite Kinky-Curly), but also Aryuvedic Products, excuse the spelling but simple terms Indian hair PRODUCTS not their HAIR, lol. (Any Indian grocery store sells Indian hair products). What's best about their products is that their inexpensive! My hair has gotten so strong and healthy from Indian hair care products and it is growing very fast in combination with no use of heat, alot of their products (which are mostly herbs and plant based) are also indigenous to Africa as well and the Carribbean and these product have multiple uses they are not just restricted to your hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    great info! I'll keep the tips in mind as I often do sew ins. Naomi's edges are enough to scare any weave abuser straight. I had to let up on them too.

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