There is a misconception that to go natural, you always have to cut all your relaxed hair off or it will fall off drastically as soon as you stop relaxing your hair. This is not true. You can also go natural via the long transition route. When I say long transition, I mean anything from one to two years dealing with different textures. Though not the easiest route, at least if you are like me who does not want to cut her hair off or have very short hair because of involuntary breakage, you have a viable option when you decide to go natural.
I had my last relaxer on the 8thof January 2011. Somehow, at this time I knew I wanted to grow natural hair. After about 2 months when I had meaningful new growth, I started caring for my hair more than I did when I was relaxed. I co-washed my hair twice a week, shampooed once a month, deep conditioned ever week, and kept my hair moisturised all the time. I totally stopped using heat to dry my hair and would always air dry it after washing. Having straight hair no longer appealed to me so I would wear twist outs, braid outs or Bantu knot outs most of the time. By the time I was 6 months post relaxer, my new growth was quite substantial and made my hair look untidy almost all the time. My relaxed ends were also getting thinner compare to my natural roots. I had a bad hair day almost every day. I stuck to my braid outs and the like but now I spent most of the time in braids and twists. This helped me to deal with the two textures on my head. It was frustrating and if ever I was going to give up on my natural hair, it was then. No hair style seemed to work
By December 2011, my new growth was meaningful and I could wear my hair out more often. This was quite a relief as I missed my hair so much. Growing up, I was used to dealing with my hair loose and not in twists or any plaits relaxed or natural. I used to roller set my hair every Saturday. But then, roller setting was not an option this time since I had learnt that my hair needs lots of moisture and the number one ingredient is water. The only time I wore real curls was when I washed my hair on Saturday and did the Bantu knots to be taken out on Sunday morning. In the evening, I had to spritz my hair and keep my regimen which kept my kinks in a shrunken state if I did not braid or twist my air for the night.
All this time, I had minimal hair breakage; mainly the relaxed ends broke which was not much of a bother. My hair grew and by June 2012, I had more natural than relaxed hair on my head. As I write this post, August 2012, only the hair on my crown still has relaxed ends otherwise the rest of my hair is 100% natural. My natural hair is about 220 mm long which averages about 10mm of growth per month. Let me also mention that for the past year and a half, I have managed to retain most of the hair that grew from my scalp. I wear my hair out a lot and my twists are fuller and more presentable. A lot of people now ask me how I manage my hair with some even doubting if I am 100% a black African. Though my hair is not very long, its health, lustre and abundance on my head just makes my fellow sisters want to play the “good hair” card. I always try though am not sure with much success to assure them that all hair is good hair and one needs to learn how to take good care of it for it to realise its full potential.
P.S: I did not include all the products I am using for transitioning because that would make this post super long and besides, some of the stuff has been covered in other posts. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below. Suggestions are also welcome.