Hey, everyone! First, a big hug for all of you who have been visiting the blog whilst on your quest for information on how to have the best natural hair experience possible. We're building a community here, that is how I see it. And you're so welcome to join! I'm one who believes that knowledge is power; and knowledge is something we ought to share if it is going to build each other up!
Now, in a conversation I had quite recently, I was asked what are some of the ways to transition from relaxed hair to natural hair. I thought back to my own situation. On both occasions that I had decided to quit relaxing my hair, I braided my hair then after several months, I cut the ends off and just dealt with my natural hair from there.
So to aid my friend out, I thought I'd share some common ways to transition with which I'm familiar.
1. Big Chop and TWA
Now this method is not for the faint of heart. It might seem a bit too drastic to cut off every last inch of your relaxed hair to transition. On the other hand, some find it quite liberating. If you do decide to choose this path, I would suggest having at least 2 - 4 inches or so of new hair growth. Your barber, hairdresser or friend would cut until they reach the point where your relaxed hair meets your natural growth. Once that is done, you can wear your TWA - teeny weeny afro, twists or even comb coils.
As far as a regimen goes, shampoo/condition is recommended. Also, applying a daily moisturizing creme or even an essential oil spritz is important as nappy ethnic hair is fragile and if left un-moisturized will lead to brittle, dull hair and breakage.
2. Braiding or weaving
From my observation, in Barbados especially, braiding is done as a protective style while transitioning from chemically processed hair to natural hair. Braiding is an easy low-maintenance way to transition. In my case, I wore my hair braided in wool braids, human hair micros and also afro-kinky singles. Washing your hair is not a problem either when it is braided. Be sure to keep your scalp moisturized to avoid itching and dry flakes. As your new growth shows you have the option to take out the braids, wash/condition/treat, and re-braid your hair if you so desire.
|This is me with human hair micros 2010|
Please do not braid your hair tightly! Too often this happens and ladies end up losing entire plaits of hair when attempting to take the braids out. Not to mention, you may end up ruining a very sensitive hair line.
I would have to give the same advice to those who use a weave instead of braids. Do not weave your hair too tightly and take breaks between re-weaving your hair. You do not want your hair to break either.
3. Letting your hair grow out
I've known some ladies who have transitioned via this route. People who choose this method actually keep their hair permed whilst their natural hair grows out. With this method though, it is very important to remember that how you style your hair will be crucial, as you are now dealing with two completely different textures of hair on your head - one is straight, the other is nappy natural. Makes no sense trying to brush your new growth to make it straight like the rest of your hair. It just will not happen. You don't want to be tugging and fussing with your hair at this stage because breakage is too real a possibility. And, stay away from excessive heat - flatiron and curling.
If you are coming up blank on ideas for styling during this method, I'd suggest styling your hair in a rod set. You can incorporate flat twists to the front and wear the rodded curls out. Or, you can flat twist your hair up into a pineapple.
If you are one who does not mind wearing a wig, then this might work for you, too.
Remember that there is no magic pill to make your hair become 'natural'. Once you have decided that you want to stop relaxing your hair, choose the method of transitioning that fits into your day-to-day activities. Life is already hectic for you without having to worry about your hair through this phase of newness. Adding more responsibilities to an already heavy to-do list is not what having natural hair ought to be about.
Also, take into consideration the texture of your hair when making that decision on which method to take. If your tresses are fine, probably braiding non-stop is not such a wise option. It stresses the hair from the root and will cause it to break off. The stronger your strands of hair, the longer you may be able to wear weaves, braids before finally having to do the big chop.
Throughout my first period of transitioning, my emotions ranged from sheer excitement to frustration. I was not able to make it to the salon to have my hair comb coiled as often as I wanted to after I had taken the braids off. Nor did I feel confident just rocking a 'fro to work. I did not know what twist or braid outs were, either. And sadly, I did not have a strong support core. So as much as I did not want to have my hair breaking anymore due to perms, I turned back to the familiar.
However, this time around, all systems are on go! Mind, spirit and body are working together.
Naturalistas, in addition to all this you have to make healthy nutritional choices. Make water and vitamins a part of your daily routine. These things nourish your body and your hair. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in this. You have online communities and resources (such as this one), and friends who will be there to lend their support if you feel that you are having a bad hair day, or just frustrated.
This step is a personal step. It is just as much a mind/thought process transition as much as it is a hair transition decision. The kind of love affair you will have with your hair will be totally up to you. But, I can tell you this: if you do, you won't regret it!!
So take your time. We'll be here either way!
***If you have transitioned or you are transitioning, what would you share with someone who is thinking of quitting perming their hair and wearing it locked, TWA or flowing nappy curls?
Share you nuggets of wisdom!***