Thursday, March 26, 2009

Transitioning to Natural Hair: 101

***I am fully natural now...but decided to venture back to my transitioning days to inspire those that are currently struggling with transitioning to natural hair**

More and more women are going natural these days. There are several reasons that women decide to stop relaxing their hair. Some are:
1. The relaxers are damaging their hair
2. The women are curious as to how much longer and thicker her hair will be in her natural state.
3. The women are curious as to what their natural texture is like.
4. The women are going natural to encourage their daughters that being natural is beautiful.
5. The women are just looking for a different look.
6. Some are going natural just because it is the "In" thing right now.

No matter what your reason for doing it, there is one thing we can call agree on. Transitioning is NOT easy. There are several ways to transition. You can have a short or lengthy transition. You can have a HARD transition or a not so hard transition. Your experience depends upon two things...YOU and what you make of it.

I have personally transitioned twice. The first time I transitioned I was living in Los Angeles and just about everyone in the city is relaxer free. Therefore it was very easy to find a stylist for my transitioning hair. During this transition, I went to the salon every two weeks for a wash, condition and press. I wore my hair out 99% of the time and it was painless. The ONLY reason I relaxed again...was because I moved back to the land of humidity...MEMPHIS. During this time, I was reluctant to wear textured styles. I only transitioned because a relaxer and color had eaten up my hair and left it thin, brittle and short. After 7 months of transitioning I had hair beyond shoulder length that was thick and full of body.

My second transition was MUCH different. I discovered the internet hair boards back in 2001 and I have learned SO much since then. I have had thick and healthy relaxed hair and thick and healthy texturized hair. I am aware that I can have both chemicals and healthy hair. However, I still feel as though my hair THRIVES when I don't chemically alter it. So I decided to attempt to transition AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN only to fail. Here are some of the reasons that I was not successful:

1. Attempting to wear straight styles. When you get past a certain point, it is very hard to wear half relaxed and half natural hair straight. One issue you will face is how WEAK your hair is. You are going to have to put allot of stress on your hair to get that silky straight look and hair with 2 different textures (extremely different textures) is not very strong. When I was doing this, my hair would start to break at the point where the two textures met. Not a good look.

2. Not being focused on WHY I was transitioning. Anything that I do, I try to do it with purpose. If you do not have a purpose for doing something, it is very easy to get off task. I had to first figure out WHY I was doing what I was doing and remain focused on that so that I could be successful.

3. Poor product choice. I have mentioned here several times that I use different products when I wear different styles. My curly hair does not like the same products that my straight hair does. My natural hair does not like the same products that my relaxed hair did. As I transitioned, I continued to use the same methods and products as when I was natural. When I was transitioning, my hair was very dry. Moisture is VERY important in a healthy transtion. I may have been more successful if I did my research and sought out products that worked well with my new texture of hair.

4. Fear. This is by far the biggest. For awhile I was seriously afraid that I would not be attractive with natural hair. All I could envision was "taco meat" lining my hair line. Not..cute. In my simple mind, natural hair was not beautiful. I had to learn to love me...and all of me. Whatever my texture is...GOD gave it to me. So I decided to find out WHAT I have...and nurture whatever that is. It also helped to browse beautiful natural images of women who have similar textures. It would do me NO good to go and view all these silky curls because that is not what I have. Who is to say that kinky hair isn't beautiful? The more kinky albums I viewed, the more I realized that kinky hair is JUST as beautiful as the silky curls. To be honest, once I accepted this LARGE small little tidbit....trasitioning became that much easier.

These are just a FEW of the issues I encountered and conquered while on my journey to natural hair. There are tons more...but I will stop here. You can rest assured that I will be back with more. :-)


LadyWritesTheBlues said...

so helpful!! thanks for posting this!

Molovefive9 said...

Good post...Thank you!

urn2bt said...

Thank you so much for this...i too have struggled with the same thing (transitioning, BC, then back to relaxed, then BC, then texturize, etc) and I'm starting from scratch allll over again with only about a half an inch so far - so wish me luck!! im so happy that there are all of u beautiful ladies out there to share your stories and help encourage each other so that we can better love our true selves. That is really an inspiration for me.

Indigofera Beauty Expert said...

Hi! Your tip about wearing straight styles is excellent. Here are some videos of "Sophisticate Twists TM" to wear while transitioning. Let me know what you think.

Be Radiantly Beautiful,

Anonymous said...

I am thinking about transitioning from chemically processed hair to natural hair, but I am somewhat reluctant because even when it is time for a "touch-up" I have some very "nappy" edges which makes me think my natural state won't be so cute. I REALLY want a new look but, just don't want to have a scary looking afro. Do you have any advice for me?

Nocturnesthesia said...

I'm a white Russian/Irish girl who is so insanely jealous of natural black hair! I was the complete opposite, I fried my hair with texturizing trying to get that kinky wavy look that many black women have naturally... Now I'm going natural and have horrible transition hair (but the opposite way). I want my new step daughter to be comfortable in her own skin: I quit wearing makeup, using all the crazy hair products, and crash dieting to try and set a good example. Anyways lots of these tips helped me out as well, I'm still trying to get the courage to chop it though... Thanks!

KG said...

Your hair is absolutely gorgeous! And yes, good post. I'm about 4 months post relaxer and still a little gun shy. I read your post because the pic you posted looked somewhat like my hair when it is wet. When I saw your pic, I said "hey, if my hair will look like that, this might be the move!" But...we'll see!

Anonymous said...

I had my last relaxer in march. I can say that transitioning is not easy especially when all others around you are getting relaxers while it just seems as though your experiencing a set back by losing hair. I have retained length but my hair seems to have gotten thinner over the past months which is the opposite of what i am trying to achieve. I believe in the next 4 or 5 months i will be able to really see if i am going forward or back that would be a realistic time frame. Right now its not looking too good....