Trasitioning from relaxed to your natural kinky/curly hair texture is a big – sometimes daunting – step. As someone who transitioned for eight months, I can completely relate. Chopping all your relaxed ends off at one go (aka Big Chop) isn’t the only way you can go back to being natural. If you’re not comfortable chopping off your relaxed ends – rest assured, you CAN do it gradually by trimming your ends off as and when until YOU’RE ready! There’s no rush and you should never feel pressured to do so. However, this new journey may bring about some challenges so. I’ve listed my top tips of making this transition as stress free and enjoyable as possible. You may find that you discover a lot more about yourself than just your hair though, so be ready to embark on this journey of self-discovery too.
1. Prepare Yourself
If you haven’t already, you’ll soon discover that transitioning isn’t a one day thing – it’s a lifestyle choice. You’ll be learning (or re-learning) about your hair and discovering things that you never did before. There may be certain days where you won’t have a clue what to do with your hair – and that’s okay. Throw on a hat or rock a turban! Whenever you try something new, there will be times when you want to give up. Therefore, make sure you are doing this for the right reasons before you start your natural hair journey. Natural hair requires patience, practice and understanding your hair’s unique needs.
2. Moisture, Moisture, Moisture
The weakest part of your hair is the demarcation line (where the natural hair ends and relaxed hair begins), so it’s VERY important that you retain the strength of your hair by keeping it moisturised. This way, you’ll not only reduce the snapping, but ultimately breakage. A great, simple way to prevent this is to lightly spray your hair with water at night, followed by a leave in conditioner and/or coconut oil.
3. Deep Condition Often
This should be your New Best Friend. Doing this adds moisture to your hair on a whole new level – from the inside out. Invest in an excellent deep conditioner when you can and generously apply it all over your hair. Deep condition your hair on a weekly basis – and stick to it! You’ll truly see your hair flourish.
4. Balance Your Hair With Moisture and Protein
As important as it is to keep your hair moisturised, you also need to restore the protein in your hair that you naturally lose through daily manipulation. Your hair is made up of around 90% protein (aka Keratin – which is also your hair’s backbone) so in order to maintain your hair’s strength, you will need to replenish your hair monthly with a suitable protein treatment. However, it’s all about balance. If you add too much protein, your hair will be brittle. Too much moisture and your hair will be limp.
5. Clarify Your Hair Monthly
The gentle cleansers you use for your hair are perfect for retaining moisture and removing excess product build up. However, over time, your hair will have stubborn build-up that your gentle cleansers naturally cannot remove. This is where a clarifier for your hair is ideal, in order to give your hair a fresh start. It’s recommended you use this in your regimen between 4-6 weeks. For those of you who live in hard water areas, a chelating shampoo is more recommended to remove minerals found in the water.
6. Your Fears Aren’t New
Will I be able to wear it to work? Will My boyfriend like it? Will it suit my face? What am I supposed to do with it? Will guys find me attractive? What will my friends and family say? Will I have the same nightmare experiences I had as a child? How will I find the time to do my own hair? ….and the list goes on! Trust me, none of these questions are new! The only thing I can say is to take comfort in the fact that women who are natural have had the same fears – and are on the other side enjoying their natural hair journey. The best way to address a fear is to confront it head on and you’ll soon realise it’s not halfway as bad as you thought it would be. 🙂
7. Heat Is Not Your Friend
For those of you who are addicted to your straighteners, it’s time to go cold turkey! In general, heat (either from appliances or direct sunlight), should be avoided in order to maintain healthy hair to significantly reduce breakage. Remember, the demarcation line is the weakest point of the hair, so you don’t want to add any excess tension at all. If you have to use heat, limit it to once every 3 months.
8. Don’t Expect A Round Of Applause
It’s a sad reality, but not everyone will support you on your natural hair journey and these people are most often women you know (with relaxed hair…). Probably 9/10 women today who are natural have experienced no support from at least one person. The truth of it is that most of the critics wish they had your courage to go natural, but they instead choose to mask it with criticism. Don’t heed to that. In fact, it’s important that you don’t go natural for anyones approval but your own.
9. Look For Product Ingredients
Most likely for those of us who were/are relaxed, you left all your hair product knowledge to your stylist. Now, there’s a whole new world of products for you to experiment with yourself! The most important ingredients to stay away from (on a regular basis) are Sulfates in shampoos and Non-Soluble Silicones in conditioners.
10. Step Away From The Chemicals!
For the time being, hold back on the chemicals. Not necessarily to relax, but moreso to colour your hair e.g. bleach, keratin blowdry. These chemicals can negatively affect your hair in terms of breakage, so it’s best to not take the risk and leave your hair to breathe. Also for the record, a texturizer IS a chemical. It’s simply a milder form of a relaxer, but the chemicals in it are still potent enough to permenantly change your natural curl pattern.
11. Embrace Your Hair Texture
Don’t be discouraged if your hair type isn’t the same as the girl whose hair you’re admiring in that YouTube video or that Instagram page. Just as in the relaxed hair world, people think their hair is ‘better’ if it’s long… well, in the Natural Hair world, some people sadly think your hair is ‘better’ if it’s curly and/or big. This is not only unhelpful but also a myth/lie. The hair that you were born with is the hair that you’ve been blessed with, so ENJOY IT. The moment you start comparing your hair, you’re robbing yourself of enjoying the gorgeous hair you have and it’s uniqueness.
12. Styling To Blend Two Textures
Finding the right hairstyle can be challenging, especially when you want to wear your hair out and blend your two different textures. The best way to do this is to curl your hair to camouflage both – without heat e.g. Bantu Knots, Twist Outs, Flexi Rods etc. If you choose to tuck your hair away in braids/twists/weaves, you will also need to care for your hair whilst wearing them.
13. Keep Your Hands Out Of Your Hair!
The more you leave your hair alone, the happier it will be! Remember, even though our hair may appear resistant, it is actually the weakest of all hair types due to it’s natural curls/kinks. Also, don’t pull too hard on your edges with ponytails! They are delicate and need to be cared for!
So, that’s it! Good luck! 🙂