Laverne Cox Shares Her Secrets For Preventing Traction Alopecia
If there's anyone who can give us tips on how to protect natural hair (including the edges) under wigs and weaves, it's none other than the fabulous Laverne Cox. The self-proclaimed "wiggy" absolutely loves using extensions to play with different looks, while her natural hair is usually cornrowed underneath. But once she went completely natural in 2011, after she says relaxers "destroyed" her hair, she learned the importance of figuring out what she needs to do to nourish her own curls and scalp.
"I don’t wash my hair that much — I probably wash my hair every two weeks with the braids," she tells InStyle. "And then depending on my schedule, ideally once a month, sometimes six weeks, I take my braids out. We wash, deep condition, sometimes do a hot oil treatment, and then we braid her back up."
As someone who frequently has her hair in plaits, and most often wears wigs and weaves, Cox is very aware that traction alopecia — which is caused when there is frequent pulling or friction against the hair — can develop as a result. This is why the former Orange is the New Black star, along with her stylists, are always extra cautious when installing extensions, especially around her delicate edges.
"You want to make sure that under your weave, your hair is braided down — and not too tight," she shares. "When we're braiding, we braid around [the perimeter] of the hair to really be protecting my edges as much as possible. With wigs, the rubbing of the lace is real, so sometimes changing the position of your wigs helps, also."
In terms of haircare products, Cox swears by Matrix's Length Goals line from the brand's Total Results collection. She says it works across all hair textures — from her natural 4C hair, to her type one or two wigs and weaves. "It adds a lot of moisture," she says. The actress also has one not so secret ingredient that she uses for everyday scalp care, which she says has worked miracles. "It’s funny, my hair has always kind of gotten to my shoulders and then just kind of stops [growing], but I’ve been oiling my scalp with coconut oil, and it’s a little past my shoulders now," the she says.
Matrix is undoubtedly ahead of the curve when it comes to being a truly inclusive haircare line, and the company feels no need to be performative when it comes to their products being able to cater to everyone, "No labels, just results," as Cox puts it, which is why the actress recently signed on to be their newest brand ambassador. "In my life, there have been many times when I’ve thought certain parts of myself aren’t acceptable, or people weren't going to love me if I show a different shade of myself," she reveals. "The Live Your Color campaign for me is about embracing every shade, every piece of who you are — every piece of the rainbow that is you."
Speaking of the rainbow, playing with color, without having to worry about damaging her natural hair, is another reason why Cox loves wearing wigs and extensions. And while she can't pinpoint a single favorite red carpet look over the years, there is one that she won't be forgetting any time soon. "The Met Gala this year was just so good," she recalls. "When Kiyah [Wright] brought out that ice blue hair, I was like, 'Yes.' Then we started playing with color after that. We did some silver, we did some pink hair, and I want to do more color."
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With 2020 marking nearly a decade since she went fully natural, I couldn't help but ask the actress if fans could expect to see more of her curls this upcoming year. "Maybe — it’s a good idea," she replies. "My natural hair color is really, really black. So when I have jet black hair, I love it off my face. I don’t think the color softens me enough, I like lighter colors. And you know, I like the drama [of wigs], so we’ll see."
But whether the actress decides to keep wigging it out, or gives us some 'fro action in the future, there's no doubt she will continue to dominate red carpet glam in 2020. And hopefully, she'll keep sharing all her hair secrets with us.
This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.