Not ready for the Big Chop (BC)? Still want to hold on to your length? Don’t let the pressure of the BC stress you out. Many have successfully grown out their relaxers for a long period of time before taking the shears to their tresses.
The decision to transition seems like an easy one on the surface, however, this process requires patience, commitment, and creativity to maintain the health of two distinctly different textures. The point where your relaxed hair meets your new growth is the most fragile area of the hair shaft. This specific point is called the line of demarcation. You will find that breakage will occur at this point.
There isn’t one magic trick to having a successful transition and most women you speak to on this topic will have very different ideas on what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, you will have to do some experimenting for yourself, as well. In this post, we've outlined 8 tips for transitioning to natural hair that will help you on your journey.
- Moisturize your hair daily with either water or a good water-based leave-in conditioner (consider, Giovanni, TGIN, Anita Grant) and seal with an oil to keep the moisture locked in and your hair supple. Ensuring good moisturization will help prevent breakage which is exacerbated by dry hair.
- On a weekly basis perform a deep conditioning treatment (use a good balancing conditioner or switch between moisture and protein to ensure your hair remains strong.)
- Not only do the two textures feel different, they are also visually different. It is often helpful to wear styles that allow the two textures to look the same. Curlformers, roller sets, twistouts and braidouts are very popular hair styles that help hide the fact that you are rocking two textures.
- Protect your hair from additional stress while sleeping use a satin scarf or cap at night. You may also consider using a satin pillowcase as a backup.
- Low manipulation will also save your tresses from undue stress and breakage. You will hear more often than not to keep your hands out of your hair but as you transition the temptation will be almost impossible as you assess the texture of your real hair. It’s natural.
- Protective styles such as braids, twists, cornrows, weave or any style that allows you to leave your hair alone for extended periods will help in this regard.
- Be gentle; make sure your hair is wet when you manipulate it. To reduce breakage, use a wide tooth comb or your fingers to detangle.
- Try to reduce the hair’s exposure to heat (i.e. blow dryers, flat irons, etc.), and if possible eliminate it completely.
Given all this you will still experience breakage, it is unavoidable. But you can at least keep it at bay. Regularly trimming or dusting your ends (trimming 1/8 inch each month) will help ease your way towards that last trim when you finally say goodbye to those relaxed ends.
Don’t be discouraged; surround yourself with people that support your journey.
You will find that not everyone will support your choice but keep positive and encouraged by others who have gone natural by watching videos and reading articles and blogs. Set small goals for yourself and take pictures to document your progress. People are most critical when then don’t understand, so educate them and move on.
Whether you reach your desired length, get tired of managing two textures or experience breakage; you will know when you are ready to remove the relaxed ends. This is a personal journey and everyone experiences key milestones at their own rate. It will be nerve wracking and liberating at the same time and you will start a whole new path of understanding the hair that is naturally yours.