Taking the leap away from relaxer and perm can be an exciting and fun experience, but also stressful and a little intimidating when you aren’t that familiar with how to look after your natural hair. The number one thing to remember about transitioning is that the process should be as comfortable for you as possible. There is no time limit, no “right way” or “wrong way”, all you need to do is find your way. For many women the transition to natural hair is an insightful experience, and can be an important step in their journey of self-discovery.
With that being said, we’ve put together 10 important tips to help you along in your hair transitioning journey.
Choose Your Preference: Fast or Slow
This is totally down to personal preference, but it is something that you should consider at the beginning of your journey because it will determine the early stages of your transition.
The big chop entails cutting off most or all of your relaxed hair in one go. One of the pros of doing this is you can speed ahead the first few stops of your transitioning journey as you don’t have to deal with maintaining two different types of hair textures at once. The big chop allows you to start fresh, and experience all the stages of natural hair growth, it’s quick and can be quite liberating and exciting to immediately begin with a fresh start.
The slower approach of the two is perfect for those that would prefer to adjust to their new hairdo over a slower period of time. It involves cutting relaxers and chemical strangers or perms out of your hair care routine. Although permed hair cannot return to its unprocessed state, slowly trimming your ends as your natural growth comes in allows you to retain your length whilst you’re transitioning.
To reiterate, there is no right choice, everyone’s hair is different; consider what your hair goals are, consider what you’re comfortable with and the relationship with your hair. Going short overnight may not be for you, and that’s OK! You may be ready to get rid of your relaxed hair, right now, and the thought of dealing with 2 different hair textures might seem like an unnecessary hassle, and that’s OK! Choose whatever makes you comfortable.
Deep Conditioning & Moisturising
The composition of permed hair differs from that of natural hair, and that means the hair products best suited to natural hair can differ also. Due to the tightly coiled nature of natural hair, it can take longer for the natural oil secreted by the scalp to make its way down to the ends of the hair. This makes natural hair with tighter curl patterns more prone to dryness than straighter textures. So, keeping it well moisturised is essential for preventing breakage, dryness and shrinking. It also allows the hair to be more malleable, making it easier when styling.
Get Your Wash Routine in Check
Perfecting your wash routine can be a lengthy process. How often you should wash your wash will vary greatly from person to person. You don’t want to overwash your hair which results in dry and brittle hair due to the stripping of natural oils from the scalp. You also want to avoid underwashing which results in a buildup of dirt and oil, leading to dandruff, tangling and potentially hair loss.
You’ll want to look for a gentle cleansing shampoo that also contains moisturising agents like shea butter, organic olive oil, or jojoba oil. These oils will add moisture to counteract the drying effects of the soap. Co-washing your hair is a great way to remove buildup whilst avoiding the harsh chemicals found in shampoo, because they are often less drying and gentler they can be used more frequently than shampoo without risk of drying out the scalp.
Verify Your Hair Potions
Try to get into the habit of checking the ingredients on your deep conditioners and moisturisers. Don’t simply take what the bottle says at face value, you’ll find a lot of products will spout that they are “suitable for all hair types” or “perfect for natural hair”, when they are nothing of the sort. Check for deep conditioners and moisturisers that use natural oils like, jojoba or olive oil as their primary ingredients. When it comes to conditioning natural hair you want oils that can deeply penetrate the hair shaft. Poorly selected conditioners will result in products simply coating the outer layer of your hair, weighing it down and making it oily.
Experiment With Protective Styles
Protective styles can be great when you’re transitioning or simply want to give your hair a bit of a break. The great thing about them is that they are so versatile and convenient. They can help to protect your hair from abrasive weather and they reduce the need for heat styling. Protective styles can be kept in for several weeks and can be anything from clip ins to cornrows.
We have a great great blog post about protective styles that you can read here, if you want some inspiration!
Less Is More
With natural hair often times, less is more. It’s important to not bog your hair down with heaps of different products. Similarly you want to avoid using a product with a list of ingredients as long as your arm that you can’t pronounce, also. Apart from the negative impact on your hair, you’ll never be able to monitor what products are and aren’t working for you, because you’re using so many. Its super simple to make your own deep conditioners and moisturisers for your hair and in many ways can actually be the better option since you can have full control over what ingredients touch your precious tresses.
Getting quality products to keep your hair in tip top shape doesn’t have to break the bank, try this 2 ingredient deep conditioner for healthy, happy locks!
5 tbs of extra virgin coconut oil
2 tbs of pure honey
The deep penetrating oil will provide moisture from the inside out and the honey can act as a sealant helping to keep the moisture in.
By now you know black natural hair can be prone to breakage and dryness and this rings even more true if you are applying heat. In an ideal world you would avoid heat to your hair as much as possible, but we know there are times when you’re short for time or wanting to achieve a certain style that may require some heat styling. Therefore it’s important to get a quality heat protection spray, serum or oil for your hair. Heat protectants will add a barrier between the heat emitted by the styling tool and your hair, helping to seal in moisture, detangle and de-frizz.
Many people forget and think heat application only includes heat styling tools, but remember you should be applying a heat protectant when blow drying your hair too!
Don’t Skip Your Trims
We understand the reluctance to get a trim sometimes, especially if you have hair length goals it can seem like a major setback, but regularly scheduled trims are essential for not only hair health but optimum hair growth. Trimming your hair removes dead and split ends and helps your hair grow faster and healthier. How much you trim off will vary, and again you should go with what’s most comfortable for you. The trick is to keep a close eye on your ends as they will be the best indicator for when you need a trim.
Give Yourself Time to Adjust
It’s important to embrace the fact that this is indeed a transition in every sense of the word. That means you have to allow yourself time to adjust. You’re going to have to configure a new hair care routine, experiment with new styles and products and all of that takes time. Try not to compare your hair with others, or even compare it with your old/pre-transition hair. If you can embrace this new learning experience and try to see it as a fun opportunity to know more about your natural hair, you will avoid a lot of disappointment down the road.
Don’t Compare - Love Yourself, Love Your Hair
The most important advice we have to offer. Love yourself, love your hair. This is an amazing journey to embark upon; learning more about your hair, is learning more about yourself. Steer clear of those who put you down about your choices or bring negativity into your life. Seek advice and help from others, too. Remember you’re not alone on this journey, surround yourself with those who encourage and inspire you, and you and your hair will be beautiful!
Hopefully these helps have helped you to feel more confident, no matter where you are in your natural hair journey! If you have any tips to share with us, let us know in the comments below and help spread the word!