If you have decided to go natural in 2012, congratulations! You have made a very wise decision and what I consider to be one of the best decisions of my life! Natural hair is beautiful, healthier than the relaxed alternative, and very versatile. With natural hair you get the best of both worlds. You can rock it curly, kinky, wavy or you can rock it straight.
When going from relaxed to natural there are basically two ways of accomplishing this goal...TO Transition or NOT to Transition. TO transition means to keep your relaxed ends while allowing your new growth time to come in. NOT to transition is to cut off all relaxer immediately and work with what you have left.
If you choose to transition, here are a few tips to keep your new growth healthy during the transitioning phase:
1) You will need to choose a transition style that requires little to no manipulation. The point along your hair shaft where the new growth meets your relaxed hair is very weak. It can be easily damaged and broken. Wearing a transition style such as wigs, weaves or braids will allow your new growth time to come in without being stressed by daily styling (manipulation), thereby avoiding breakage.
2) Avoid styles that require a lot of heat. If you choose to forgo protective styling while transitioning you may find it difficult to blend the two textures of hair. Your natural hair will be thick and course compared to your relaxed ends. Transitioners often make the mistake of using heat to manipulate the new growth to blend with the relaxed hair. Excessive use of heat such as flat irons and hot combs can permanently alter your natural curl pattern and have the same long lasting straightening effect as relaxer. This may prolong your transition phase because you will have to wait for more new growth to come in. Don't believe me? Check out YouTube'r Taren916. She is a naturalista who big chopped a second time because she straightened her hair so much that she lost her curl pattern (it wouldn't curl anymore). Be careful with the heat!
3) The twists and turns of curly hair can cause the cuticle to lift leaving your hair rough and dry. That's why natural hair requires a lot of moisture. Moisturize your hair at least 3 times per week using essential oils such as coconut, jojoba, almond, olive or grape seed oil. These oils easily dissolve into the scalp and won't leave your hair feeling greasy if used sparingly. Oils can be purchased in your local Whole Food Market or grocery store.
4) Attempting to comb through your hair without conditioner or a detangler can be a nightmare! Only comb through your hair when its wet and has a softening agent in it. Also use your fingers, they make a great comb!
5) Last but not least - Document your hair growth journey in pictures. It's easy to become discouraged when you look at others who have been natural for years and desire to have their length. Don't discredit your hair growth! It’s growing, trust me.
Keep in mind that being natural includes a lot of trial and error. Every product, style or tip is not going to work for you simply because every natural's curl pattern and hair texture is different. You'll need to try several different products until you find one that works best for you. Find a local meet-up group that offers product swaps. This will allow you to giveaway products that didn't work and pick up some new ones for FREE!
Naturally Happy Hair is here to help you navigate the twists and turns of going natural. We offer hair care tips, product reviews and hair styling tutorials on our Facebook and YouTube channel. Be sure to join the conversation and share your successes with the NHH family. We love to hear your voice!!
Till next time... Be Bold. Be Beautiful. Be Natural.