Hey Lovely People,
Last month, we talked lots about the Big Chop- check that out here.
This month, the topic is transitioning and as the title suggests the 10 things transitioning or ‘pre-transitioning naturalistas’ wish they’d have known/want to know before they go natural.
I spoke to 3 ladies for this post. Beryle, 31, who’s transitioned and has now been natural for about 5 years; Semo, 20, who has been transitioning and natural for slightly over two years, and lastly; Stacy, 25, with chemically processed hair and is considering going natural sometime this year.
- Transitioning doesn’t mean you are done with the Big Chop.
Just to clear this up again, a big chop DOES NOT necessarily mean cutting off all of your hair. It means that you cut off all of your hair that is damaged (expect a Hair Damage post soon) and can’t return to its natural texture. So, as complex as it sounds, everyone transitioning from damaged hair to natural hair will finally have to cut all their damaged or chemically processed ends and that will be their Big Chop.
Plus, after getting into the transitioning space, you might just realize that it’s just not your cup of chai, drop it and go get a T.W.A (Teeny Weeny Afro) and SLAY!
As a hilarious Nigerian Comedian likes to put it: “Anyhow is a How”
- Your hair needs TLC and Long-Term Commitment.
Real Talk! Yes, it will seem like your hair has got a thought process of its own… Like you’re the only one fighting to make things work in this relationship – lol – but you absolutely need to be patient.
Your hair is weak at this point in time and it can’t handle heavy manipulation like you’d want it to.
Although people don’t like to admit it, there’s a good number of us who’ve gone natural just so that we can get our hair thick enough to rock a flat iron/blow dry like a good (4 bundles of) Loose Brazilian Body Wave. I definitely can’t judge you but…. Resist!
- Your hair will shed. Your hair will break. Your hair will split.
So don’t panic.
- Your hair is beginning to adjust to this new regimen and like most adjustments in life, the beginning is rough.
- Your weak hair is breaking and splitting – something that should, if you’re taking good care of your hair, definitely reduce.
- Everyone’s hair sheds – even if you’ve been natural since birth. The problem is when you’re going natural, having not properly detangled for a while, you’ll have to get rid of the shed hair that was just sitting on your head. This is especially true, for the first few times you wash your hair…. before you get detangling down to a tee and find a great conditioner.
- Don’t even think of product hoarding.
“Worry about the technique, it’s not about the product”, says Beryle. “Go get a good shampoo, a good conditioner, a good curling cream/a good gel and work with what you have!”
So many of us naturals go on every site possible: compile a list of products we want. Try and get all of them. Spend thousands of shillings. Get overwhelmed. Get frustrated and then get into a financial/emotional/psychological rut because of our hair. Beware – people’s marriages and relationships have even had issues cause of this.
Alternatively, people can’t get the right products and they just give up on their hair since they can’t get their hair to look like that blogger or YouTube Vlogger <insert name here>.
- You don’t always have to tough it out: It’s okay to protective style.
Don’t look at your hair like some new badge of honour you constantly need to wear specific ways to make a statement. Think of it more like your skin. Its colour/texture are to be loved but that doesn’t mean you have to show your skin off all the time; sometimes you throw on a sweater (yes, and you wear other clothes too but let’s overlook that for the sake of this analogy).
Consider braids, lines/cornrows, crotchet braids, weaves, wigs etc. They will give you a much-needed break.
- Cute hairstyles will be your absolute go-to’s
The biggest hurdle you’ll face while transitioning is that the ends of your hair are almost straight but the roots of your hair are not.
Wearing these two textures is tough since styles like the Wash & Go or the Afro Puff are frustrating (think curly at the roots and straight like Spongebob’s cloth seams at the ends). Best option: is to try braid styles e.g. flat twists and different curly styles e.g. the twist out and braid out.
Scarves, hats, bands, pins, etc.! On days of laziness, frustration and just bleh….it will be a comfort to be able to put your hair up in a turban, in a bun or just under a beautiful hat.
- You shall be tempted to retouch
…Tempted to retouch (If you remember Kevin Lyttle then you know what I did right there). Anyhow don’t do it. Please.
A little word of encouragement from Semo:
“It was hard. That’s all I can say about transitioning. One needs patience. It takes time.”
- Join a Hair Community or have a support system.
Make friends in real life and online who are on the same journey. You will be grateful to have someone with whom you can laugh at your flopped hairstyles and come up with remedies with.
- Essentials in the game
- Sleep in a silk scarf/bonnet. Or if you’re okay with spending a bit more on your sheets and pillow cases, then a silk pillow case is a good option.
- On wash day: Wash in sections. Pre-poo, gently detangle, shampoo, condition/ deep condition each section individually- not particularly in that order. Consider organic products such as Curls Blueberry Bliss Collection available here
- Generally, wash day is done weekly but don’t feel bad if all you’re willing to commit is once in 3 to 4 weeks- just don’t do more than a month.
- Explore natural oils like castor oil, olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil etc to moisturize your hair. Stacy said something I think we all know to be true: “Oils will make your hair soft”. Have you seen Arab and Indian women? Have you seen their hair? Enough said.
- Straighten your hair rarely. I’d recommend almost never in your first year but if you absolutely have to, invest in a good heat protectant (And trust me! I just suffered some heat damage this month – which you can believe I will expound on in that Hair Damage article).
- Trim your ends. May I also say that there is a big difference between trimming your ends and chopping off half of your hair. That said, try doing this every 4 to 6 months when you first start transitioning – this isn’t holy grail: for some it takes much longer or much shorter before they need a trim.
Image Courtesy of Beryle Ochieng
* Bonus Tip: Don’t preempt what your curl pattern will be.
Your hair may not be the coily type, or may not be curly type, or may not be the kinky type. That’s okay. For most people your hair is at least 2 different curl patterns anyway and let’s not forget that the pattern you have when your hair is wet is different from the one you have when it’s dry.
Don’t take this next statement for granted: You are on your own unique hair journey: be amazed and comforted in this new adventure and make it yours.
I know you still have questions and stories. I’d definitely love to hear them. So what do you want to know about natural hair and transitioning? Comment below and I’ll try to answer most of them. Maybe I’ll even do a special post tackling your question… just maybe 😉
So until next time when we talk about all things hair damage. Have a great week. PS. Have you subscribed to our newsletter? If you like hair articles and product offers then it’ll be worth it 🙂