I was on the phone to my friend the other when she announced that she's finally decided to transition from relaxed to natural - YAY! I was more than thrilled to hear that, obviously. For the one and half hours we were on the phone (I know, we needed a good catch-up), all we talked about was natural hair, her transitioning journey, products etc. Our conversation gave me an idea for this post, nonetheless.
You may be embarking on the natural journey due to heat damage, breakage from chemical treatments, or for a lifestyle change. Transitioning from relaxed to natural hair can seem like a daunting process for most. Especially, when you're not sure of what to expect of your natural texture. Unfortunately, it's got to be done as there's no quick fix way of reverting your relaxed hair to its natural state. Transitioning can also be an emotional process when you don't have the support of family and friends. Try these helpful tips to make it through the transitioning phase with minimum frustrations:
Have it at the back of your mind why you've decided to go natural and stick to it. Be true to yourself about your chosen reason for going natural and stay committed. It's very common to change your mind in the cause of transitioning to go back to relaxers. Don't give in and don't give up!
Research the right steps to a healthy hair care. There are numerous natural hair blogs, forums, and discussion boards online to help with the transitioning period and also give you a much needed support. Although, such information could be useful, you must be selective in order not to overwhelm yourself. Learn only what your hair needs at any stage.
Should You Big Chop?
Now, Big Chop is the breaking point for most transitioners, I think. You do not necessarily need to BC to go natural. If short or cropped hair is simply not you, then don't do it. Check this out for some short hair motivation, all the same. You can transition for as short as 3-6 months or a longer period of 12-24 months. It's all up to you. Bear in mind that the relaxed and natural textures on your head could be frustrating to deal with. You can always wear instant weaves like this, sew-in weaves, or braids for length if you choose to big chop. BC is a must if you're experiencing breakage from relaxers or heat damage. You'll need to cut the damaged straight ends off so it doesn't travel along the shaft to your new growth.
Start Caring For Your Hair
Start nurturing your natural new growth from the beginning. Treat your hair with care as your natural hair growth will be stronger than the relaxed ends. The line of demarcation (where the relaxed ends meet the natural new growth) between the two textures could be very fragile and prone to breakage. It is the weakest part of your hair while transitioning. This is why too much heat styling and manipulation should be avoided. Co-wash (conditioner wash) your hair to add moisture. Shampoos could be stripping for our coily/curly tresses. If you must wash with shampoo, then use sulfate free products or simply use diluted shampoo. Sulfate is an ingredient used in most shampoos which produces the suds or lather to give your scalp a squeaky clean feeling. They could dry out your hair with frequent use. The most common sulfates are Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lareth Sulphate, and Myreth Sulfate. Deep conditioning once a week is an absolute must. You could use protein or nourishing deep conditioners for much needed strength and moisture. Always seal in moisture afterwards with an oil or butter - like olive oil, castor oil, or shea butter. For healthier tresses, get your diet right!
Buy Staple Products And Tools
You can start off using a sulfate free shampoo, moisturising rinse-out conditioner, deep conditioner, and leave-in conditioner to treat your hair weekly. It is imperative that you read labels of products to know what's best for your texture. Hot oil treatments (using oils like extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, jojoba oil, castor oil) are recommended for healthy growth and restoring balance. Unrefined shea butter is highly recommended for sealing in moisture. Alcohol free hair gels are great for sleek hairstyles as they're not drying to the hair.
A wide tooth comb should be your number one detangling tool. It glides through hair with little effort. It's best practice to use a wide tooth comb to detangle wet or damp hair, or with a conditioner from the ends to the roots. Other essentials are a shower cap for deep conditioning without heat, butterfly clips for sectioning hair while washing or styling, ouch-less/seamless elastics, and sleeping with a satin bonnet on to protect hair.
Do not at any point flat iron, press or blow dry your natural roots to match the relaxed ends. This could potentially damage your healthy new growth. Some of the best transitioning hairstyles to mask the line of demarcation of the two textures are; two strand twists and twist outs, braids and braid outs, flexi rod/roller sets, bantu knots out, and kinky twists. You can also protective style for a short period with instant weaves/wigs, sew-in weaves, or box braids to give your strands a break from everyday manipulation.
Be Patient And Embrace The True Texture Of Your Hair
No two heads of hair are the same. If you don't remember the true texture of your hair due to years of relaxing, then don't be too surprised with the texture of your hair type when it grows out. Love and experiment with it. Transitioning from relaxed to natural can give you some of the best and worst hair moments. Be patient, confident, and build a good hair care routine to see you through the transitioning journey.
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