So you have decided to wear your hair in its natural state and rid yourself of the relaxers, perms and texturizers but you do not know where to start from and not sure of what you are up against? Transitioning is an option and below are a few tips to get you started.
- Prepare your mind. I will not lie to you. Transitioning to natural hair is quite a challenge and your mind will have to get on board in order for you to make it. There will be so many people who will discourage you on your decision and you will fight many mind battles. Knowing why you are going natural in the first place and the challenges you may face along the way will help your mind not to go in panic mode when bad hair days come.
- Deep condition at least once a week . Deep conditioning will reduce breakage and will also keep both textures moist, soft and more manageable.
- Co-wash your hair instead of shampooing it. A regular conditioner should be able to do the trick. You can use a sulphate free shampoo if you can afford one and then condition hair afterwards.
- Always use a leave-in conditioner every time after washing your hair.
- Keep your hair well moisturised at all times by spritzing it with water then sealing it with an oil of your choice every day, even twice a day if you feel your hair is very dry. You can then lock the moisture in with a butter for example Shea butter, mango butter or avocado butter. Unfortunately you will have to try different products sometimes before you find one that agrees with your particular hair. You can mix your own spritzer using water and oils for great moisture.
- Oil treatments and protein treatments will help you get stronger hair that will not break easily. Do them regularly. Once or twice a month, alternating them helps.
- Scab hair which tends to be dry may show up first and you might think that is your hair texture. This is only a result of scalp damage because chemicals. Keep deep conditioning and moisturising to realise your true texture which will come with time and may take longer for others.
- Low manipulation styles should be your go-to styles while transitioning. The point where your relaxed hair joins the natural new growth is the weakest and too much manipulation will result in breakage at this point. Avoid excessive combing and brushing of your hair and tight hairstyles. Try Bantu knot-outs, twist-outs or braid outs. You can also roller set, flexi rod set or straw set your hair or tie it in a loose bun. Whatever you do, keep your hands out of your hair as much as possible.
- Protective styling is also a way of getting some rest from having to deal with two different textures. Wear a sew-in weave or a wig to hide your hair for a while and to protect it from the harsh weather elements. You can braid or twist your hair with extensions to give your hair some volume because it tends to be very thin at the ends especially from month six into your transition. Twists on my hair without extensions used to look so sickly and unsightly when I was transitioning. With them on my hair, I would usually wear a hat to work or a scarf if I am around the house. Wearing hair extensions helped me not to obsess on my hair that seemed not to grow at all during my first year. Always make sure that your protective styles are not too tight and you still take care of your actual hair even though it is in a protective style. Keep to your wash and moisture routine.
- Avoid heat at all costs. Flat ironing your new growth to match your relaxed straight hair will do more harm than good. The heat will dry your hair even more and may result in more breakage.
- Have patience. Transitioning is only a phase. It will soon pass and soon you will be able to wear your hair in its happy healthy kinky state. My transition was two years. It was not easy but it was all worth it. There are times when I thought, why the hack but I am glad I soldiered on.
Indeed it is a journey and all I wish is for you to take a step at a time and make it. Please don’t you ever look back and give up. Only look back to remind yourself why you made that decision to grow natural hair in the first place. When you are feeling ugly, look again in the mirror and just go, “wow, I’m beautiful.” All the best. Be blessed.