|photo via blackhaircareinfo.com|
So, you’re ready to start your journey from relaxed hair to natural hair, but you haven’t the faintest idea where to start. This may be your 1st, 2nd or 10th time, but you still are unsure of what to do and where to start. Although I am not an expert, I have experienced transition before (read my story here), so I can give you information on what worked for me. I have compiled a list of what I think every transitioner should know before, during and after they have done their big chop (BC).
To read more, click the jump.
- You DO NOT have to chop off all of your hair upon your decision to go natural. People are under this false pretense that in order to be natural, you have to start with a “low cut Caesar with the deep waves”. Negative. I never cut my hair that short, and I probably never will (well, besides my sides). You can grow out your hair while gradually cutting off your relaxed ends according to what you can handle. I don’t mind having really short hair, but to some, it is their crown of glory.
- You can transition for as long as you want. Some people transition for a few months, others transition for a few years. Do what is comfortable for you. I transitioned for almost a year. My roommate transitioned almost two years. Others go for the jugular and BC immediately. Do what’s best for you and mentally prepare yourself for whatever you choose.
- Avoid using high heat frequently. Heatless styling would be the best way to transition. It will not cause heat damage, a typical issue amongst naturals in transition. Because of all the heat styling I used, I had to cut off a lot of my ends, even post BC. Looking back, roller sets and twist sets with indirect heat styling tools would have been the better option. Straightening my hair caused me to have straighter ends (even though they were not completely straight) and it messed up my curl pattern. Use a heat protectant if you decide to use heat styling tools (i.e. blow drying, flat ironing, hooded dryers, etc.)
- Take care of your demarcation line, that is, the area between where your natural hair ends and your relaxed hair begins. This is the most fragile area on your hair strand, so you will have to take care to not put too much tension on this area.
- Keep your hair moisturized and avoid products with high alcohol content. Alcohol in products can dry out your hair, again, causing it to break off at the line of demarcation and feel like a brillo pad. Keeping your hair moisturized will keep it manageable (read about moisturizing here). As your natural hair grows out, you will learn that your natural hair has different needs than you relaxed ends. Which leads me to my next point…
- Be patient!! Comb starting from the tips of your hair and work your way up the hair shaft, paying special attention to your line of demarcation on up to your roots. Combing your hair can be a chore during these transition times, but learning how to properly comb your hair will avoid excessive breakage. I’ve seen and heard of many people breaking off their hair because they aren’t gentle enough. Combing your hair is an art and it may take some time to learn how to do it properly with your hair. Just remember, if you do it right the first time you will not have to go back and redo it over and over again… That’s why I rarely comb my hair now – it stays detangled (for the most part, especially when it’s stretched). Additionally, you will be working with AT LEAST two textures (and I say at least because some people have multiple textures in their hair). Be patient and take care of both, not forsaking one for another. They will both be in cohabitation for the moment, so teach them how to live together (learn how to deal with them).
- Embrace your natural!!! Yes, there will be times where your hair does not lay as flat as it did in it’s relaxed state, and you know what? That’s okay. The quicker you embrace your natural hair, the easier your transition will be. Expect it to be different and you will have little to worry about. If you are wearing it straight and you don’t like the puff at the crown, switch styles to something that makes it less noticeable that your roots are puffy. Bantu knots, buns, roller sets, and straw sets all disguise what is going on at the roots because your hair is already very voluminous or slicked back. And I know you’re hating your puffy edges right about now… there is a solution, though! My edges would lay flat by spritzing water and/or using pomade (not fully saturating the hair) and applying a scarf on the area to set it.
- Water is your friend. When I was completely relaxed, I tried to avoid water at all cost (well, except on wash days). Water was the enemy, or so I thought… until I started going natural. That was the only way I could manipulate my hair without experiencing major breakage. It is okay to spritz your hair if you do not want it completely saturated, but water will be your lifesaver.
- Learn protective styles. Those styles include but are not limited to: roller sets, straw sets, twists sets, twists, braids, up-dos, sew-ins, wigs, buns and the list goes on and on and on. The less you touch your hair, the less chance you have of breaking it off and the more growth you will experience. Protect your ends by tucking them into a style away from exposure. These are the oldest parts of your hair so if you’re looking for length (and even health) during this time of transition, keep them healthy and tucked away.
- Use your resources!! I cannot stress this enough. There are plenty of hair care forums, vloggers, bloggers and information out there in books and on the web that can help you transition. Everybody does not have the same hair texture or experiences, but reading up or listening to what they experienced may help you to avoid mishaps. There isn’t a know-all tell-all for natural hair since natural comes in so many forms, so don’t get caught up in all the products, styles and overall hype. Simple works best for me, and I learned that by trial and error. Learn what works best and looks best on you.
This is a lot of information, but I still feel like it isn’t enough. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you have transitioned or are transitioning, leave comments and tips below. The more we know, the smarter we’ll grow! 🙂