My hair, my crown! 7 Tips to transition
In my journey to have a natural lifestyle one of the challenges I had to face was my hair. If you are black like me or have extremely curly hair, you probably had at some point to decide whether or not to chemically straighten it. And this is a decision that many of us have grown to regret.
You probably grew up with someone at some point suggesting that you should relax your hair to make it more manageable or so it "looks better". I had someone tell me that and without much thought or research, I did it. After all, it is what most women around me with my type of hair were doing.
This was my reality and at fourteen years old I was relaxing my hair. My hair was looking good and it was easier to deal with.
For many years, except for the actual application process, which I hated, I was happy to apply this chemical to my hair. However, things change. As I grew older I became more aware of what I was doing. And more importantly, there were some changes that I could not ignore.
My hair was getting thinner and this was more obvious along the hairline. Unhappy and aware of the risks of relaxing, I decided to stop. For some time I tried to use a texturizer, which is also a chemical that changes your curl pattern, but I thought it was a more natural option. I was wrong, and unhappy with the results, about a year later, I relaxed my hair one more time.
However, something wasn't right. I wasn't happy with the results and I regretted it even before I got off the chair. I was done with relaxing or any form of chemical to change my curl pattern. I wanted to embrace my hair as it is naturally.
When I decided to stop I was faced with two decisions, to big chop or transition. The big chop is when you decide to stop using chemicals in your hair and straight away cut off all the relaxed hair. Usually, this leaves you with very short hair but you get rid of all the hair that is not your natural hair. The other option is transitioning. You let your hair grow and little by little cut off the relaxed hair. This allows you to maintain some length and it isn't as drastic. I decided to transition.
At this point, my hair's length was quite long and I cut it to shoulder length and planned to keep cutting it little by little. During this transitioning period, it was probably the most care I ever gave my hair. I used this time to reacquaint myself with my natural hair and take care of it so that it could be the best it can be.
Here are some of the ways I managed to make my hair look and grow healthy in a natural way.
1. Stop relaxing your hair
This is without a doubt the first step. You must decide that you want to embrace your hair and go natural. This means putting aside all chemicals that alter your curl pattern and accepting your hair for what it is. It is not an easy decision, especially if like me you have relaxed for many years and can hardly remember how your hair looks. The unknown can be scary but if you are willing to try, you just may be surprised.
2. Develop a hair care regime
During this time I gave my hair a lot of attention and I devised a hair care regime that worked for me and that helped the process along. I created a schedule for when to wash, do treatments and even when to trim so that I could ensure I was not neglecting any steps.
3. Avoid harmful ingredients
Not only you need to say goodbye to your relaxer but also some of the ingredients your hair products may contain. I was careful of which shampoos, conditioners and stylers I used during this time. When purchasing your hair products try to stay away from the following ingredients, they will cause build up on your hair and scalp and make your hair drier. Trust me your hair will thank you.
4. Deep condition
As your hair is transitioning and you are hoping that it will look good, deep conditioners or hair masks will be one of your best friends. It will provide your hair with nutrients it needs and if nothing else it will make it feel soft and healthy. I deep conditioned or used a hair treatment on every wash day.
Most deep conditioners will fall under two categories and you want to make sure to give your hair both types. A moisturising treatment will help because curly hair is usually quite dry, and you need protein treatments as well to fill in the damaged spots on your hair shaft.
However, too much protein treatments can be harmful and cause build-up. For this reason, I only used them once a month. To make it easy to remember I use it on the very first wash day of every month. The rest of my wash days I use a moisturising treatment.
5. Hot Oil treatments
Although I do not like to add oils to my hair when I style my hair I am a fan of hot oil treatments. Every couple of weeks, I would warm up either coconut oil, olive oil or a combination of both and apply it to my hair before shampooing. I would leave the oil on my hair anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight, but sleeping with oil on your hair can and will cause a big mess. So during the day is a much better option.
6. Use satin pillowcase or bonnet
When you sleep on a cotton pillowcase it will dry out your hair. and natural hair is already dry, so you want to avoid this. One thing you can do to help is sleeping with a satin bonnet or on a satin pillowcase. I do not love the bonnet. I find that the ones I have tried slip off my head during the night. For this reason, I recommend the pillowcase. No matter what happens during the night or how much you toss and turn, the pillowcase is there.
7. Trim regularly
If you are letting your hair grow it may sound counterproductive but it is very important. By trimming regularly you are transitioning from mainly relaxed hair to your natural hair because you are cutting off the ends that are relaxed. Revealing your natural hair which is the goal. So no matter how long you want your hair to be, do trim the straight ends.
Ultimately, if like me you become frustrated with the transition, go ahead and Big chop. The months that I transitioned did cause some frustration. I was dealing with my natural hair coming in while having these straighter, relaxed ends. On top of that my natural hair has two curl patterns. The front of my hair isn't nearly as curly as the back. All these different patterns and textures started to be too much to handle so one day I grabbed some hair shears I owned and cut off all the ends that were relaxed. I have to say it felt great and I was relieved. I eventually went on to have it professionally cut but on that moment I felt free.
So there you have it, my tips for your transition if you decide to do it. My hair care regime has changed a bit as of late but these good practices helped me to get to the place I am now. If you have any questions or would like to hear about my current routine please comment below.