By Patrice Smith
Lisa V. Burks’ passion for hair began when she was child.
“At the tender age of seven, I started braiding hair on a mannequin. By nine I was doing my mother’s hair and by the time I was twelve years old I was braiding my sister’s hair.” After a two year stint at Claflin College, Burks decided to attend cosmetology school where she graduated from in 1994.
“I was doing lots of Jheri curls and perms when I realized that relaxers were actually tearing the hair down. So I decided that I would only do natural hair styles and I actually refused taking clients who wanted perms,” Burks remembers. She started taking before and after pictures showing people how she could braid hair into beautiful, protected styles. And Burks says she soon became her own best advertisement.
“I started wearing two strand twists and that became my M.O. I was braiding with human kinky hair and I became a trendsetter and still am.”
Burks says she uses human kinky hair because she’s allergic to the synthetic hair that is most often used for braiding.
“My scalp would scab over like it did when I got a relaxer. I got intense scabbing,” Burks recalls.
Burks says synthetic hair can cause an allergic reaction that can result in traction alopecia and other scalp issues.
“Synthetic hair is heavy and has more weight than the natural hair and as soon as it grows out from the scalp it can start to itch and when you scratch the scalp the fibers from that plastic hair can get into the scalp and with how the braids are pulled so tightly you’ll see the edges start popping off.”
Burks says she worked very hard to find hair that was hypoallergenic and discovered human kinky hair in Brooklyn, New York.
Then she set about to change South Carolina’s braiding license law that only allowed braiding the client’s own hair without adding extensions.
“I actually got an amendment to the law in 2011. It was patterned after the laws in North Carolina and New York which both offer a natural hair care license. I met State Representative Robert Brown who asked me to write a proposal. I got to present it on the floor of the house and Rep. Wendell Gilliard moved to amend the braider license to include adding hair,” Burks remembers.
Burks says natural hair care is her passion but education is her calling so she founded the state’s first and only natural hair school that she calls Universal Naturals Institute for Hair (8316 Rivers Ave. Suite A, North Charleston) which opened last November. She wrote a braider’s handbook that is part of the introductory curriculum for the natural hair braiding class. Burks, who is ever busy and committed to helping her clients, even created Synergy for Naturals, a therapeutic line of shampoos, conditioners, oils and body butters for use on sensitive skin.
“I also have a healing oil that penetrates seven layers deep and can heal and stop pain in 60 to 90 seconds,” according to Burks who is now a hair loss practitioner through the U. S. Trichology Institute.
“I am so proud that I can help people retain new growth,” Burks says.
Also known as Lisa, The loc restorer, she rents booth space by the hour, day or the week and makes customized wigs (for women and men) from human kinky hair.
Her motto is ‘Each one teach one until we all have the knowledge and power’.
For consultations, call Lisa V. Burks at (843) 730-0186. Check out her school at www.uniforhair.com and see her many hairstyles on Instagram at @universalnaturals.