This is a guest post for the ladies by Chris-Tia Donaldson – owner of Thank God It’s Natural; natural products for the hair, body and home. After our popular Salute to Natural Hair, she has been gracious enough to contribute to United Black America’s mission of promoting a positive and natural Black self image (via a natural hair journey) while also developing Black owned businesses and empowering Black consumers.
Without further ado…
So You Want to Go Natural – Everything You Need to Know to Grow Out Your Relaxer
For every woman you see proudly walking down the street, rockin’ their Diana Ross-esque ‘fro, it’s proof that their transitioning process from relaxed to natural hair worked! Yes, it was a process, but to the victor goes the spoils…or however that line goes. With the new year finally here, what better way to kick-start the new you than by saying adios to relaxers and hello to your natural hair! Now let me not lie, this natural hair journey will take time, energy, effort and you will swear your hair has a mind of its own because there will be days it just won’t listen to you! None the less, don’t fret, because once you get past this, it’ll be your fro that’ll make all the women green with envy.
Why Should I Go Natural?
If you’re sick and tired of breakage or dry and brittle hair, then its time to kick relaxers to the curb. Your hair will thrive as a result of not being chemically altered. Although kinky or curly hair is extremely fragile and delicate, it is still stronger in its natural state than its relaxed state. Most naturals will agree that their hair is longer, fuller and healthier than ever before. Also, you’ll have the flexibility to go back and forth between rocking a curly look and a straight look. Natural hair is super versatile!
Can I Transition from Relaxed to Natural Hair Without the Big Chop?
To be frank, the Big Chop will take out the most difficult part of your natural hair journey because you won’t have to try to maintain two different hair textures. So for that option, all you need is a pair of scissors and some courage. However, for those of us sans the courage, you still can transition without making any noticeable changes. For this option, you’re going to need to rock protective styles and make sure you’re vigilant about moisturizing your hair along with doing regular deep conditioners.
How Long Should I Transition?
The duration of your natural hair journey is entirely up to you. If you’re brave, then you can grab a pair of scissors or make an appointment with the barber and go ahead and do the Big Chop. If you choose to do the Big Chop at home, make sure your hair is wet so you can see the difference between your natural and relaxed ends. If your goal, however, is to transition for as long as possible, it’s important to settle on styles and a routine that involve a minimum amount of manipulation. Since your natural texture is thicker and stronger than your relaxed ends, your hair will be more prone to breakage where the two textures meet. To avoid over handling your fragile strands, you will want to choose styles that can be worn for several days and do not require frequent brushing or combing. Remember, your new hair mantra is Easy Hair Care.
How should I Maintain My Hair While Transitioning?
Cleanse — You’ll want to shampoo your hair at least once every 7-14 days. Steer clear of shampoos containing sulfates as these can be harsh and drying to the hair. Look for products with natural ingredients, skip the shampoo (and just use conditioner) or go for a baby shampoo. For a shampoo, try Elucence Mositure Benefits Shampoo available at www.Curlmart.com
Condition — Conditioner is the peanut butter to shampoo’s jelly. They go hand in hand. For Conditioner, try Abba’s Moisturizing Deep Conditioner available at Ulta.
Go Deep – Whether its summer, fall, winter or spring, you should be deep conditioning your hair on a regular basis. Period! It’s especially critical when you’re on your natural hair journey so that you can moisturize your hair to prevent breakage. Try using, Mizani’s Moisture Fuse or KeraCare’s Humecto Deep Conditioners.
Moisturize — We can’t stress this enough. Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize! You should also be using a light oil or moisturizer to help lock in the moisture. Check out tgin’s Replenishing Hair Serum with coconut, jojoba and Vitamin E oil available at www.tginstore.com. You can also use this oil for hot oil treatments as well every three week or once a month.
Trim – Although you’re going to eventually cut off the relaxed ends, it’s important to keep your hair trimmed. It will make sure it stays healthy, has a nice shape, and prevents split ends. When transitioning, it’s a good idea to get your ends trimmed every 6-8 weeks.
What Styles Should I Wear While I am Transitioning?
During your transitioning phase, you’re going to want to wear protective hairstyles such as two-strand twists, flat braids and bantu knots and braid outs. These styles are important to the future of your hair because it will aid in locking in moisture and help to minimize any breakage. You also don’t want to stick to any one kind of style. Versatility is essential on your natural hair journey due to added stress your hair will receive if you stick with just one protective style method. Natural hair is stronger than permed hair. However, while transitioning, it can still be very fragile, so keep that in mind when doing your hair.
Some also transition into this natural hair journey by straightening their new growth using a flat iron and/or a pressing comb. Using a heated styling appliance will help you to achieve one uniform texture and may minimize breakage – but it can also permanently straighten your natural texture if done too frequently. Wearing a wig or hair extensions is also an option to consider if you prefer to cut your relaxed ends off gradually. While a wig may be convenient occasionally, you shouldn’t become dependent on this crutch (as I did) – which will ultimately make the transitioning process more difficult. Wearing a wig is also not the best thing for your newly, natural hair since it obviously keeps it covered. You’ll ultimately want to settle on a style that allows you to nurture your new growth, while minimizing the stress on the fragile sections of your hair.
What will my family and friends think?
We typically look to our family and friends for support when making major life decisions, and a natural hair journey is no exception. While your family and friends may love you, they may not completely agree with or support your natural hair preference. But please, don’t be discouraged! In many instances, they’re just misinformed and lack a basic understanding about the dangers of relaxers. They’ll soon see how thick and healthy your natural hair is/becomes and realize that breakage and thinning edges are now a distant memory. In time, you may even find yourself becoming a natural celebrity to loved ones who continue to fight a never-ending battle with over-processed hair and disappearing edges.
What If I don’t like my natural hair texture (it feels, rough and hard, and not soft and wavy)?
Relax. Your hair texture will change with time. The hair that is growing out of your head right now is damaged and still recovering from the chemicals. Over time the hair will soften and be easier to deal with. Trust me, my hair today looks nothing like it did when I began my natural hair journey ten years ago.
Where do I go for more information?
You should always swing by our blog at www.tginblog.com. We have a “hairbrary” of over 400+ articles nicely organized on natural hair. We always break it down and keep it simple, so check us out. Also, if you like having all the info available in one place and accessible at any time, be sure to pick up a copy of my new book Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair now available at www.tginstore.com and on Amazon (Kindle and Paperback) and at Barnes & Noble (Nook and Paperback).
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Ladies, I know this might be a lot to take in on the first read. But all you need to do is make this a habit and you’ll be good to go. Now that you are on your natural hair journey, you have to understand the hair texture you once had will slowly be a thing of the past. Remember, you’re transitioning from relaxed to natural hair and you’re going to experience some bumps in the road, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. Stay natural, and remember you’re beautiful just the way you are.