Transitioning 101

Hello wonderful readers,

Don’t cut your hair if you don’t want to…

There will be a part 2 to my styling post, but today I’d like to talk about transitioning. Recently I’ve had a lot of ladies ask me about their options when going natural. Plenty who are considering it but find the thought of cutting their hair and rocking a TWA (Teenie weenie afro)/low cut look mortifying. I really can’t stress this enough: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CUT YOUR HAIR!!!! The big chop is NOT for everyone, and you don’t have to do it. Even if you do decide to cut your hair it doesn’t have to be immediately. Remember that once you cut it off it’s a process and a journey to grow it out again. So if you’re not ready for that, don’t cut it. I don’t feel like anyone should have regrets about the decisions they make regarding their hair.

Why I did the Big Chop…

I big chopped because I grew impatient. I was meant to transition for a year after I cut my hair to shoulder length. The plan was to gradually grow out my natural hair, and cut a little off the ends each month. And that’s what I started out doing. But I just couldn’t wait and I didn’t want to have to work with the 2 textures. I found that I was spending much longer than I wanted to on my hair and I wasn’t happy about it. I also found it a bit annoying trying to find products that would work for my natural new growth and relaxed ends. It was a task! So 6 months in, I decided to chop my hair off and I’ve never looked back. It was “liberating”. I know that sounds cliché but I don’t know how else to describe it. I did what was best for me and I was happy with my decision. That doesn’t mean that’s what everyone has to do though.

The transition…

Now, if you know what you’re doing, transitioning really isn’t a big deal. Like a week ago a girl asked me what she “needed to do” if she wants to transition. Well, the simple answer is, you stop relaxing your hair. It’s that simple. Don’t do it. If you’ve stopped relaxing, and you’re growing out your hair, then you’re basically transitioning. Nothing more to it. Where it starts to get a bit tricky, is the whole hair care process…

If you’re transitioning you’re working with 2 textures; your nature hair, and your relaxed hair. Your natural hair is delicate, requires a lot of moisture and care, this means lots of water and moisturising. Water is probably the WORST thing for relaxed hair because it makes it frizzy and obviously you don’t want that. You have to make a decision. One texture has to take priority. If you want healthy, strong natural hair, then that’s gotta be your focus. Treat ALL of your hair as if it’s already natural.

The first thing I stopped doing when I decided to go natural apart from relaxing of course, was blow drying and straightening. Excessive heat dries out natural hair and can cause breakage, dryness and heat damage. The point where your natural hair meets the relaxed hair is called the line of demarcation and it’s extremely delicate and fragile, and hair is susceptible to damage and breakage there. So you must handle your hair with care.

Here are some things you might want to think about doing when you start transitioning:

  • Investing in a good moisturising shampoo and conditioner
  • Finding a good moisturiser and a good leave in conditioner
  • Getting used to protective styling. Transitioning is a long process, you need to be very patient. So experimenting with ways to manage both textures will make it easier. Try braid outs and twists out; spray your hair with water at night, braids or twist it, cover your head with a scarf or bonnet, and take the plaits out on the morning. Braids and weaves are also a good way to transition because your hair is covered most of the time. As long as you’re not leaving them in for too long, I think it’s a great and less stressful way to transition.
  • Avoiding excessive heat; little to no blow drying your hair, no more curling irons, no more straightening. Some ladies try to straighten their re-growth to help it blend with the relaxed hair. Believe me when I say you’re doing more harm than good.
  • Starting to steam/deep condition your hair once a week; try to do a pre-poo/hot oil treatment before your shampoos too.
  • Co-washing; washing your hair with a moisturising conditioner. Conditioners have similar cleansing ingredients to shampoos and don’t strip your hair of all of it’s natural oils and moisture.
  • Research! There are so many sources online; blogs, websites, videos on youtube etc. The internet is a great source, so make the most of it.

Product

Probably the toughest part of transitioning for me was finding products that worked for both textures. I found some natural hair products made my relaxed hair too greasy and others left my natural hair very dry. Eventually I realised that a a light leave in conditioner was all I really needed. I used Africa’s Best Organics Olive Oil leave in conditioner: It wasn’t too greasy or sticky, gave my hair lots of slip, made twist outs and braids outs easier, and moisturised my natural re-growth too. This is what worked FOR ME. Try out different products and see what works for you. I used coconut oil for my hot oil/pre-poo treatments and also as a moisture sealant. When I didn’t have coconut oil, I used extra virgin olive oil which helped reduce frizzing. And I alternated with my shampoos and conditioners. I added a spoon of olive oil to all of my conditioners and all of my leave in conditioners, and I got used to spraying my hair with water every morning and every night.

Transitioning doesn’t have to be a big deal. It wasn’t for me but it might be for you. If you’re thinking about going natural and you know the Big chop isn’t for you, you might want to consider transitioning. It’s still work, your hair needs to be looked after, but the change is a gradual one, and you might even find after a few months that you WANT to cut your hair.

It’s all up to you!

Ciao for now xxx

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