Greetings, Chicas/Chicos...Let's Talk TRANSITIONING
Oh, to chop or not to chop, that is the question..
Many times as we ponder the thought of returning to our natural crowns, we dabble in thought of whether we wish to chop all of our hair at once or not chop all of our hair at once..Well, either way, we support your decision and are here to help. For those who wish to keep more length and not chop their hair all at once (known as a Big Chop or BC) and rather, wish to gradually trim their relaxed or straightened ends and slowly transition into returning completely natural, here are some tips that may help.
TIP 1: DETANGLING:
When detangling the hair can be a task fit for a surgeon when handling hair of two textures and carefully avoiding or minimizing breakage. The key to easier detangling is ALWAYS detangle hair when wet and slippery with conditioner. Pay special attention to the line of demarcation (the line where the new growth meets the relaxed or straightened ends). Also, if the hair is long enough, detangling while the hair is in sections, then twisting or braiding, helps keep the hair from re-tangling. Many transitioners have found success with first finger detangling, then using a wide tooth comb, such as a Jilbrere Shower Comb or detangling brush to detangle.
TIP 2: DEEP CONDITIONING/PROTEIN TREATMENTS:
These treatments should be a transitioners best friend!! A balance between protein and deep conditioning is key to minimizing breakage. With protein, it is used to strengthen the hair, 'temporarily' repairing the hair that is damaged from chemical treatments, colorants and heat use. Be mindful, protein treatments have a tendency to make the hair feel harder than usual, which is why it is very important to follow up with a deep conditioner afterwards to soften the hair once again. You can choose commercial brand protein treatments, henna (works much like a protein treatment and does an excellent job of strengthening the hair. Be sure to look for BAZ or Body Art Quality Henna as it's the easiest to rinse out) or a DIY (Do It Yourself) protein treatment. Protein treatments can be done bi-yearly. Deep conditioners are best as regular treatments, such as weekly or at least bi-weekly.
TIP 3: MOISTURIZE..BUT DON'T OVERMOISTURIZE:
It is oober important to keep tresses moisturized, as natural hair can become a bit dry. However, this can be a double edged sword as the hair that is relaxed or have the straightened ends can become water logged easily therefore making the hair weak and break easily. Transitioned hair usually fair well being moisturized every few days or weekly (each person will vary). Remember, over moisturizing transitioned hair can create weakness leading to breakage.
TIP 4: STYLING:
When styling hair with two textures, it is of the utmost importance to handle with kid gloves. Remember that line of demarcation is very fragile. Using styling tools, such as wide tooth combs and brushes designed for detangling are key. Treat transitioning hair very gently..I repeat, treat very gently. Protective styles, such as twists, braids, plaits, buns are great for transitioners and minimizes the amount of daily styling applied to the hair. There are a plethora of amazing styles for transitioners such as Twist n Curls, Bantu Knot Outs, Flexi Rods, Perm Rods because they do a great job of blending the two textures.
TIP 5: REGIMEN
Ok, now while I don't encourage you to follow someone else's regimen exactly, I do encourage regimen building that suits your needs. Building a regimen is helpful with understanding products and helping to understand what may or may not work for you..this way, when you have completely transitioned and returned to natural, you are more comfortable with what works and have a better understanding of how to care for your tresses. Though your products may or may not change, the consistency of how you care for your hair may not and as the days go by, you will be more comfortable with maintaining your hair. Building a regimen also helps with aiding your hair in becoming used to your regimen that is comfortable for YOU.
TIP 6: TRIMMING
It is very important to keep those ends trimmed. While building your regimen, you may incorporate how often you wish to gradually trim your ends as you draw closer to returning completely natural. This time can range from 1/4 to 1/2 inch per month, two months or a little longer time period. If you are not comfortable trimming your own hair, it is very important to find a stylist that specializes in natural hair care and have them trim your hair for you (one who understands trimming vs. cutting)
TIP 7: PROTECT AT NIGHT
Very important tip is protecting the hair at night. Covering hair with a stain (especially charmeuse satin) cap, scarf or pillow is extremely helpful for retaining proper moisture and minimizing breakage. If you feel your satin scarf, bonnet or pillowcase alone are not enough, double up. You can cover your hair with a scarf or bonnet and sleep on a satin pillow for a double dose of protection.
TIP 8: DRYING THE HAIR
When drying the hair from cleansing, try using an old t-shirt to dry instead of a towel. Towels can be very rough on the hair and cause friction on the hair leading to dryness and breakage. Once you have rinsed your hair, cover with a t-shirt, just as you would with a towel and leave until hair is just slightly damp. Complete your regimen as normal.
TIP 9: RESEARCH
Research, research, research!! The power of the internet can be an awesome tool for seeking out what other naturals have been through in regards to achieving and maintaining healthy hair. It's also helpful for learning what may or may not work for your hair and how to become creative with how to style your hair. Sites such as Youtube, Facebook, Blog sites, Instagram and Pinterest, to name a few, have been extremely helpful with helping many on their journey to returning to natural. The power of networking with others who have returned to natural is extremely helpful with the fear and frustration of the journey.
TIP 10: DON'T STRESS AND LOVE YOUR HAIR.
Remember, you hair is only an accessory of you. There is no such thing as bad hair, no matter who has tried to define it. Each person will have different results of styles, regimens, hair growth, etc, but the beautiful thing is that we are all unique. Yes, you may deal with shrinkage. Yes, you may deal with breakage. Yes, you will definitely deal with shedding (natural part of the growth cycle). Yes, you will deal with not being able to master every style or a particular style...And all of that is A-OK! Get excited about Your hair texture, no matter what texture it is..Remember, there is NO SUCH THING as bad hair and don't allow the definition of society nor others convince you that there is. Never lose site of how beautiful you are.
As always, I hope this helps..Have a Happy Natty Day!!