I have been on this natural hair journey for 9 years. My last relaxer was in November 2009 but I unsuccessfully tried transitioning several times since 2004. My goal was to get my hair 100% natural but I struggled to figure out how to achieve it. Now, that I have been natural for 4 years (my anniversary is one week away) I am sharing 10 tips for transitioning from relaxed to natural hair with women new to the journey and transitioning. Hopefully, you wouldn’t make the same mistakes that I did.
1. Be Patient
There will be days when your hair will look seriously good (take lots of pics) and there are days when you may rather wear a hat. That’s okay. It happens to the best of us. Just be patient. I remember in 2005 after an entire year of transitioning, I went back to the relaxer because I wasn’t patient enough to learn how to style my thick new growth. I was still using the same products that I used on my relaxed hair and I was unwilling to dedicate the time to try out new products.
2. Understand that the line of demarcation needs lots of TLC
The line of demarcation is where your natural hair and relaxed hair meet. This is the most fragile point of your hair while you’re transitioning, so treat it like a newborn baby. Keep it moisturized and conditioned and handle it gently. I wish I had pictures to show but at one point I had breakage at this point in the middle of my head. It was 2008 and I had decided to start flat ironing my hair to transition, what I experienced was breakage at the demarcation point which led to me running right back to my relaxer.
3. Don’t always wear your hair straight!
This was one of the biggest downfalls for me while transitioning. I wore my hair straight, the majority of the time. After my last relaxer in Nov. 2009, I had my hair blown out every week until May 2010 when I did my Big Chop. As a result, my hair was heat damaged and some of it wouldn’t curl. It took a while for me to grow out that straight hair.
4. Keep your eye on the prize
We all go natural for different reasons. Remain focused on your reasons and don’t let other people or circumstances influence your decision. There were so many times while transitioning that I returned to chemically straightening my hair because I lost focus on my long term goal. I recall one time when I was planning a vacation and started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to maintain my Dominican blowout for the duration of my trip so I went right back to the creamy crack.
5. Step out of your comfort zone
If you have never worn your hair curly start off by stretching your relaxers and wearing a style that you normally wouldn’t. You may find that you like it! I remember as if it was yesterday, summer 2004 wearing roller sets and braid-outs. I was a broke college student trying something new and surprisingly I liked it and it was free! Couldn’t tell me nothing!
6. Have fun with it
Who remembers Naomi Campbell’s amazing helmet bob? I always wanted it! So, while transitioning, I got one. It was so much fun and I regret not rocking a short pixie straight Mohawk before taking the Big Chop plunge. Don’t be too uptight! Make it a light experience.
7. Steer away from shampoos with sulphates
Sulphates are known to be drying to natural hair which strives on moisture. Go ahead and step away from shampoos with it. You need your natural hair to have as much moisture as possible.
8. Learn to accept your texture
I couldn’t keep my hands out of my hair when I wore braid-outs or roller sets while transitioning. Play in your texture, stare at it, Be weird 🙂 You will need to be very comfortable with your texture when you become fully natural.
9. Don’t be afraid to turn to a Big Chop if transitioning is not working for you
Like I mentioned earlier, I tried to transition for 5 years before having success. I would always get to a crossroad where I would feel overwhelmed (usually summer) and I would race to the salon for a relaxer. My last time, I told myself now or never (plus I was pregnant) and I just chopped it off impulsively. I know, I know you want to, at least, be shoulder length and all that good stuff by the time you big chop. It’s okay to make these plans but if caring for two textures becomes too much work for you and your lifestyle don’t be afraid to do a big chop. Trust me, you wouldn’t regret it.
10. Be Proud to be you
Take the time to celebrate that you are a woman who is willing to make a major life change. You’re probably thinking that “life change” is a bit dramatic but it’s the truth. I have learned so much about myself in the past few years that I have been natural. It’s been a growing experience not just for the hair on my head but for me as a person. I’ve learned that I am brave and that I care more about my opinion of myself than those others of me. I remember the first day that I wore my hair natural and a coworker said to me in a condescending tone that I looked like an African and I proudly responded: “That’s what I am!” Pow!!
If you are transitioning or thinking about doing so, I am here to support you. Feel free to ask me questions or add your own tips.
Thank you for Reading….Adi