Being natural for 2 years in NYC, there’s not a day that goes by where someone doesn’t comment on my hair. Whether it’s someone bringing up my hairstyle or asking me how long I’ve been natural, I always find myself talking about hair, hair, hair (I can’t front, it’s one of my favorite topics)! After a year and half of transitioning, I had officially paid my dues to the transitioning gods and feel the need to give the scoop on how to do it right.
So for those of you out there that are currently (or are aspiring to), doing a long-term transition without adding weave or extensions, here are my tips in no particular order. Take notes!
1.Halt all trips to the Dominican salon
Yes, this is the one place you can walk in with your hair jacked up, without an appointment, and walk out whipping your hair back straight up Pantene Pro-V commercial style for just $18 bucks. But let’s keep it real ladies, we know damn well they put too much heat on our hair. Having tears stream out of your eyes as the blow dryer is aimed at your scalp with a hotter than hell setting is a sign…. a bad one. Yes I am speaking from experience. Not only that, the rigorous rubbing of the shampoo on your scalp can’t be good. Not to mention the fact that they probably aren’t going to take the time needed to detangle your hair effectively. Imagine them raking their comb carelessly from root to tip through your hair, while being 8 months post relaxer with 4 inches of new growth connected to 6 inches of relaxed hair….Can we say ouuccch…Uh yeah there’s a reason why you’re in and out within an hour…Just say no Mami!
2. Find what your hair likes
This transitioning time is not time just used for stalling until you are ready to do the Big Chop. This is your time to learn what your hair likes and dislikes. Likes and dislikes meaning products to use, how to build your regimen, and what styles are best during this process. Your transitioning hair may not like the same products that your fully relaxed hair liked. You will have to change how you wash and detangle your hair. You will have to moisturize more. You won’t get this chance to learn your texture if you weave your hair up all the time. You also won’t learn anything about your hair if you get it pressed or flat ironed consistently. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Do not consistently flat iron your hair
I know this seems like the easiest way to transition. The first time I transitioned, this is how I thought I had to do it. But after 8 months and inches of new growth, I got so fed up with forcing my hair to do something it didn’t want to do, that I went back to the relaxer. So you see where that got me. Consistent flat ironing, pressing and blow drying your hair at high heat levels not only damages your hair, but can damage your natural curl pattern. I’ve seen it before. A few of my friends transitioned this route and ended up with a head full of curly hair and stick straight sections of hair in the most random places. And the only way to get rid of those heat damaged strands? To cut them off. If you want to maximize the amount of growth you will keep post BC, then put the flat iron down.
4. Moisturize, moisturize, and repeat
Relaxed hair needs moisture naturally. But when you are transitioning, you need even more. Natural hair craves H20 and relaxed hair doesn’t necessarily, so you will have to find a balance in how to distribute moisture properly to both textures. I can’t stress this tip enough! Use leave-ins post washing, and creamy moisturizers several times a week if not needed daily. Seal your ends with oils like jojoba, grape seed, or castor or butters like shea.
5. Have patience when detangling
Honestly, I will say this is another main factor that went into me not transitioning completely the first time around. I was so fed up with detangling and how much longer it took than when I was relaxed that I just said “Eff this.. I can’t take it anymore!!!”. If you find yourself getting to this point, pay close attention to these two words that will save you: smaller sections. Start detangling in smaller sections and even wash your hair in sections instead of all at the same time. Will it take longer? YEP. BUT it will save you time and frustration when it comes to detangling and you won’t lose as much hair than if you were to not do it this way. Devote enough time to detangling your hair so that you are never rushed. Here’s some more hair saving pointers for this crucial tip:
- use a WIDE tooth comb (I wouldn’t suggest a brush unless it’s a Denman) that is preferably seamless
- detangle from the bottom (ends) to the top (root) slowly
- be careful around the demarcation line or else your hair will break off
- if you choose to not detangle in the shower, do it immediately after you get out, keeping a spray bottle of water handy for when you need to re-wet the hair as it’s drying , and applying a leave-in before hand (Kimmaytube is what I use). Do NOT detangle your hair if it’s not wet! It will break off.
- if you detangle in the shower, make sure your hair is wet and full of conditoner
- be PATIENT. It’s the only way you will get through detangling successfully
Stay tuned for Part 2…