I’m back everyone! I apologise for taking so long but I was wrapping up grad school. Now thankfully, it’s all done and I have time on my hands again.
In my last post, I received a lot of questions on transitioning so that is what I will be addressing today. Veterans, feel free to add your own tips in the comment box.
So what is transitioning? It’s simply the process of going from relaxed to natural. Some people choose to transition by letting their hair grow out for a while before cutting, while others opt for cutting off all their hair and starting from scratch. This is known as the “big chop” (My mom will be big chopping soon and I will be documenting the process on my blog if anyone wants to check it out).
I only consciously transitioned for three months. I didn’t relax my hair for six months prior to my big chop. I always stretched between relaxers anyway so by the time I was due for a touch up, I just decided to keep going.
So how do you transition?
- First and foremost, STEP AWAY FROM THE RELAXER AKA CREAMY CRACK: Hide any boxes you have, throw them out or give them away. The important thing is to get the temptation away from you.
- Decide how you want to transition: Will you chop your hair off and start right away or will you grow it out and trim it as you go along?
- If you decide to big chop right away, then you’re done. Transition process over. We will get back to you in the Natural Newbies post. Go out and take over the world! If you decide on a lengthy transition, then read on. You don’t have to decide how long you want to transition, just go with the flow. Bear in mind that the longer you struggle with two textures, the stronger the temptation will be to relax.
- Research, research, research: You have to do all the research you can to find out how to care for your hair. There are books, blogs, websites and videos. The internet is a great resource. I’m assuming that if you’re here reading this article, you at least have access to the internet. Start from there. Search Google or YouTube for natural hair.
- Realise that the texture of your new growth and your relaxed hair will be different: You will need to use different tools and products in your hair. You will also need to change the way you style your hair.
- Find a transition hairstyle that works for you: The best kinds are the ones that blend the two textures or cover the hair completely. If you’re the type that likes to play in your hair, twist-outs, roller sets, coil sets, bantu knot-outs etc are a great way to blend the different textures. If you’d rather keep your hands out of your hair, then braids, weaves and wigs will be a good alternative. This link contains lots of videos with tutorials on transition hairstyles. Avoid styles that will cause your hair to tangle, like tiny braids.
- No matter what transition styles you choose, be sure to keep your hair moisturised: The moisturisers that are suitable for kinky hair might leave the relaxed part of your hair feeling too oily so you need to find a balance. The best way to moisturize your hair is to apply a water based moisturizer, like a leave-in conditioner, then seal with an oil. Sealing basically keeps the moisture in your hair and the oils you can use for this include olive oil, coconut oil, grape seed oil and castor oil. I’m partial to castor oil myself.
- You will have to stop combing your hair dry or without products at this point: This is because the point where the two textures meets is very prone to breakage and can be a major source of frustration (and pain) if not handled properly. The easiest way to detangle is to wet hair and/or saturate it with conditioner then gently detangle with a wide tooth comb or your fingers in sections. Your hair will thank you for this care. Styles that stretch out your hair like roller sets and twist outs will make the hair easier to handle too. Start a regular deep conditioning routine too. Always detangle from ends to roots. When washing your hair, don’t pile your hair up on your head as this will cause tangles. Rather, let your hair fall as it does naturally and wash it that way.
- Realise that your hair will shed during this process: Don’t be alarmed, it comes with the territory.
- If you will be trimming your hair regularly, make sure you get a pair of scissors specifically for this purpose. Do not use it to cut anything but your hair.
- Find products that work for your hair: It will take a lot of trial and error and the urge to try everything (i.e. be a product junkie) will be there but find what works for your hair and stick with it. I am always hesitant to recommend products to people because I’ve realised that everyone’s hair reacts differently to products even if the textures are exactly the same. For example, naturals with my hair texture have been advised to use conditioners that are made for dry/damaged hair but I’ve recently discovered that the conditioners that work best on my hair are the types that are made for coloured hair. I use only three or four products on average, depending on how I’m styling my hair. I shampoo with CURLS Curlicious Curls Cleansing Cream, I condition with Herbal Essences Ignite My Colour, use the Herbal Essences leave-in for split ends and then seal with castor oil.
- Learn to style your own hair: There are few salons and stylists that can handle natural hair (especially in Nigeria) so learning to manage your own hair might be the only way to make sure it isn’t mishandled and yanked off. YouTube is a good place to learn as there are an abundance of easy to follow tutorials.
- Be patient: Don’t just focus on the end result, but enjoy the journey and all the stages that your hair will go through. Try to remember to work with your hair and not against it.
These are just a few tips that might prove invaluable during the transition process.
Any questions? Ask me in a comment or on twitter via @missfizzy87. Good luck!