Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Making The Transition

As I mentioned in my hair story, I big chopped after a seven month transition.  Some people transition for less time, and some people transition for longer.  One of the most difficult struggles in the transition is dealing with the two textures -- your relaxed hair and your natural hair.  The point in between them is called the line of demarcation.   If you have ever stretched a relaxer for a lengthy period of time, you know that the line of demarcation is very fragile, and your hair will easily snap here, if not properly care for.  Thus, is important to keep the following things in mind:

1.  Moisture is your best friend.  The moisture will help to keep the line of demarcation from snapping.  To keep moisture in, deep condition at least once per week; and use moisturizing products in between when your hair feels dry.  Also, consider sulfate-free shampoos because sulfate can strip the moisture from your hair.

2.  Strengthening treatments are also important.  You can use henna or protein.  I used a protein reconstructor because my hair does not like heavy proteins.  The strengthening treatment will reinforce your hair strands.  Just make sure that you do not overdo it or your hair will easily snap.  Also, follow-up any strengthening treatment with a moisturizing conditioner.

3.  Use blending styles and protective styles.  These include styles like twists, braids, twistouts, braidouts, rod sets, straw sets, rollersets, buns, and bantu knot outs.  You can look at my pinterest page for inspiration.  Black Girl Long Hair also has a great article on transitioning styles.  While you could blowdry, flat-iron or press your hair, you risk heat damage, which could ruin your natural curls and weaken the integrity of your hair.  Thus, if you do decide to use heat, use the lowest possible setting and use a good heat protectant.

4. Limit combing, brushing and styles that put too much stress on your fragile strands.   When you do comb, use a wide tooth comb.  Detangle very gently and in sections.  Expect that it will take longer than when you just had relaxed hair.  Also, while protective styles like buns and braids are great, make sure that you are not braiding so tight that your hair snaps from the strain.

5.  Slowly trim away your relaxed ends.  If the goal is to end up with all natural hair, then you have to start somewhere.  Trim at the pace you are comfortable with because you want to make sure that you are at complete peace with your decision to go natural.  Of course, if you change your mind on your transitioning goal and start to get impatient, you can always big chop the remainder, like I did.  Just make sure that you are ready.

6.  Join a support group.  Transitioning is more than just a physical change.  It is also psychological, and you may need some support as you go through the transition, especially if your family and friends are not on board.  There are some great forum threads out there to help you on your journey.  Like I mentioned in my hair story, I was part of the Long Hair Care Forum's Transition without BC'ing Support Thread.  There were women who transitioned for a short period of time, like 3 months, and some who transitioned for a long time, like 2 years.  Without the women in this forum, I may have given up on my transition before I was ready.

7.  Enjoy your hair and have confidence.  Enjoy experimenting with your hair or you may be miserable.  Know that you will have some breakage.  You are really just trying to minimize the amount of breakage that you have.  Know that you will have some frustrating days, but don't let every day frustrate you.  Above all else, remember why you are transitioning and have confidence that you are doing the right thing for your hair, or you will never make it.  Try taking a picture of your natural root to motivate you.  Here is the one I took about four months into my transition:


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