Just when I think everyone is going natural, I get an email from someone who just made the decision to join the natural hair community. Whether it’s because they want a healthier hair care option, are curious about their texture, or want to embrace their natural beauty, they all start at the same place. That place is the decision to no longer use chemical relaxers. But then what? Some opt to ‘big chop’ and start fresh right away. The majority, however, decide to transition to natural hair by leaving the relaxed hair intact and growing their unrelaxed hair out. When I started transitioning in July 2008, I found out by trial and error – error mostly – how difficult transitioning can be when you have tightly coiled hair. I hope this article will help you better deal with the frustrations that come with transitioning, so you can count it all joy.
For those of us with 4c hair, there are a couple of issues with transitioning. 4c natural hair is the COMPLETE opposite of straight, relaxed hair. The point of demarcation, which is where the straight hair meets the natural hair, is prone to breakage. Since the curl pattern is so different, this makes that point even more prone to breakage. To help with this, treat all of your hair as if you were already natural. Your relaxed hair won’t mind a bit! This means frequent deep conditioning, gentle detangling, and decreased manipulation of your hair. The goal is to decrease breakage in order to maintain your hair’s condition and to extend the transition period until you feel comfortable removing the relaxed ends.
Image Credit: Zion Naturals
The extreme change in pattern can also be a major styling issue. Quite frankly, there isn’t much you can do to bone-straight hair to make it ‘blend in’ with very kinky and tightly coiled hair. I personally experienced this, to the point that my mom was planning an intervention with one of my girlfriends. They were debating on who was going to tell me that my hair looked a mess because of the distinct difference between my relaxed hair and natural hair. I know I’m not the only one either – you know who you are. Its okay. There are some options for you. Using an edge control product can help slick your edges down if you’d like to wear your hair in a bun or ponytail.
The infamous twist and curl style, where the textured hair is twisted and the straight hair is curled with rollers or rods, is a go-to style for transitioners. Bantu knots are also a styling option for transitioners. Braids and twists using hair extensions are another alternative to disguise the new growth, but be careful that they are not installed too tightly and are well maintained to avoid root damage. Weaves and wigs are another option that allow you to protect your hair and not have to worry about styling woes as your hair grows.
They say anything worth having is worth fighting for. This statement also applies to starting a natural hair journey. If you desire to rock your natural tresses, but need a little time to transition – or maybe a lot of time, arm yourself with all the information you can get and go forward! The journey may be a little rough. But once your transition is complete, you will feel it was well worth it. Happy transitioning!
Share your transitioning experience with us in the comments below! What problems did you face, and how did you overcome them? Let us know! #teamhelpasistaout