So, you have decided to take the plunge and return your hair to its natural state *high five*, welcome to the club.
The battle has just begun my friends.
By Jacyra Baptista
You have two choices:
To big chop or not to big chop? That is the question. I chose the latter.
And as a fellow long term transitioner, let me offer you some tips to make this journey a little bit easier.
Expectations: Your hair will not look like Tracee Ellis Ross and you will not have a uniformed curl pattern! Well at least mine doesn’t. Apologies if I have burst anyone’s bubble.
What I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t have unrealistic expectation of your hair. We all have different textures and curls patterns and your hair will not end up looking the same as your natural hair idol. Embrace the curls that grow out of your head and learn to love them!
Hair Care: Good hair care makes a huge difference between having a head of healthy gorgeous curls and one that is prone to breakage.
Washing: Wash hair as often as needed. I would advise pre-pooing the hair (the term “pre-poo” is short for pre-shampoo. It refers to an oil treatment applied to hair prior to shampooing or conditioning.) Coconut oil is an excellent pre-poo. Pre-pooing the hair helps to lock moisture and protects the ends of your hair. You can then shampoo as normal or use African black soap which is less drying than shampoo.
Deep Condition: This should be done frequently as it helps strengthen the line of demarcation – where your new growth and relaxed hair meet. This is where most breakages tend to occur. You can make you own homemade mix or simply pop down to your local hair shop and buy your own. Make sure that you apply enough conditioner on the hair to completely cover and saturate it, then pop on a plastic cap/ sit under the dryer to let the conditioner fully penetrate the hair shaft. Leave on for 20-30 mins and then proceed to rinse with cool water. Cool water helps to seal the cuticle.
Leave in and sealing in moisture: Choose a leave in conditioner of your choice, I like to use Cantu Shea Butter Leave In and I follow this up with an oil to seal in the moisture. Base your choice on how well the product works on your hair.
Styling: Please remember that your hair will not behave like your relaxed hair did, so put down the straighteners and embrace styles that work with your texture i.e. twist-outs, braid outs , Bantu knots etc. There are so many hairstyles at your disposable – try them all. Styling your hair might be a bit hit and miss at first but have fun experimenting.
Night time: Always protect your hair at night by sleeping with a satin/silk bonnet or scarf. Or if you’re really fancy like that try sleeping on a silk pillowcase.
Exercise Patience: Be gentle with your hair and handle it with care. It is very fragile – you are dealing with two textures fighting for dominance.
Remember: Hair grows, just be patient!
I would love to say that this journey is an easy one but there will be times where you will feel like reaching out for the creamy crack to stop the dreaded ‘re-growth, but don’t give in! Immerse yourself in the natural hair community, read natural hair blogs and watch youtube videos to help you learn more about your hair. You might end up feeling like Alice in Wonderland: Lost. But slowly you will learn how to take care of your locks. Transitioning may be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.