Being someone with long hair my whole life, I had no desire to “big chop” when I decided to go back natural, so I made the decision to be a long term transitioner. I had an idea of what to expect after relapsing from 7 months post relaxer Sept 2010-April 2011, but I still had no idea how to take care of my hair. Here are some tips that I have learned as a long term transitioner.
1. Do Your Research
One of the reasons I ended up relaxing my hair again is because I did little to no research. I had 3-5 inches of new growth and didn’t know how to deal with both textures. I wasn’t paying attention to what my hair liked and disliked. I was totally lost. It wasn’t until my friend sent me a link that I found out YouTube had so many natural hair tutorials, product reviews and hair stories. I found and followed a number vloggers with similar textures and sufficient knowledge of hair care to help me with what I felt then was “my struggle”.
Moisture is a natural’s best friend. I remember messaging the few naturals I knew on Facebook and asking what products they used on their hair. As a kid, I never used any special product, but I wanted to make sure I was on the right track. The majority of them told me the same thing: “I can give you a list if products, but if your hair isn’t moisturized, you may get frustrated and just go back to a relaxer.” That essentially became the ‘bird in my ear’. It began to make more sense especially after learning the line of demarcation (the area where the relaxed and natural textures meet), is the weakest part of our hair and needs to be moisturized lest it breaks off.
3. Minimize Heat Use
This was the hardest thing for me to do. I was one of those women who NEVER styled their hair. If I didn’t have pin curls or in a wrap, I had a ponytail or a part in the middle with bun like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I had no problem washing my hair, but I always left the conditioner in and walk up the block to get a roller set at the hair salon. That was all I knew. I challenged myself after learning about the benefits of using little to no heat. I went from going to the Dominican hair salon every 2-3 weeks for a wash and set to once a month.
4. Find Encouragement
Not everyone will agree with your decision to be natural. It can range from your coworkers, church members or even your own family, but there is a way to find encouragement. More than anything, you need to be your own encouragement. Loving and appreciating yourself is a must whether is comes to your hair, body type, skin tone, or intellect. After this is accomplished, it is possible to get support through Facebook, Meetup groups and natural hair forums online. You can use these resources for tips, finding out events in your area, product swapping and gaining a new “transition buddy” or “curlfriend”. Online support is good, but always remember to caution when providing information via social networks.
In order to be natural, you must be patient. Unless you’re an expert at doing hair or a quick learner, you will not get every style you watched on YouTube correct. It takes time to learn your hair and figuring out what it likes. There are so many people worrying about hair type or how long it will take to become fully natural when transitioning that they don’t pay attention to their hair’s needs. Not every product or technique will work, but the leaning portion is important in the transitioning phase.
Did you transition to natural? What are some tips that you have learned in the process?