So you’ve decided to transition? Welcome to the Team! I’ve put together a few tips that I found most important to my transitioning, thus far.
1) Research, Research, Research! If you’ve never taken care of your own hair, whether relaxed or natural…If you, like me, have had your hair taken care of professionally the majority of your life, with no real information about caring for you own personal hair that grows out of your scalp, research is your friend! When I made the decision to transition 20 months ago, I wanted to do so to be as healthy as possible, and to me, it was counter productive to apply a chemical to my hair…so I decided to stop. For the first 4 months of my transition, I continued to go to a stylist bi-weekly, until I figured I could style my hair the same or better, while saving $50 and a 45 minute ride to a stylist. I began to research, research, research what natural hair needed, how to keep it moisturized and how to style it. I spent countless hours watching and reading transition stories and blogs. Spent hours watching hair tutorials on Youtube…so many things I was exposed to because of research. The most informative videos from YT I found that helped me understand how the hair strand works in general were the KimmayTube Structure of the Hair videos.
The Structure Of Hair Pt 1, The Basics
The Structure Of Hair Pt 2, PH Balance Basics
The Structure Of Hair Pt 3, Are You Taking Your Hair on a PH Roller Coaster Ride?
The Structure Of Hair Pt 4, Using Ph Balance Properly for Hair Care
Also, Chiroco has a book called “Grow It”, which I never purchased, but I do subscribe to her newsletter, in which she sends informative information to her subscribers about maintaining her hair, which I believe is butt length or longer.
2) Treat your hair as if it’s already natural: By this, I mean develop a haircare routine that focuses on natural haircare techniques. After doing research, you should have enough in your arsenal to begin to develop a wash routine, at least weekly or bi-weekly to start. This includes experimenting with products, keeping tabs on what works and doesn’t work for your hair. This may lead to Product Junkism, which is why research is such an important detail. I like to keep it simple. I have eliminated shampoo completely so my regimen is really simple and moisture friendly.
3) When handling transitioning hair remember to:
Be gentle. You are maintaining two completely different hair textures, that are fighting against one another. If handled improperly, hair can break easily at the line of demarcation (where new growth meets the relaxed ends). Comb hair from the bottom up, using a wide tooth comb. Some suggest combing hair only when hair is saturated with conditioner, while other advise to comb under running water. My method is a combination of the two. Because I finger detangle as I apply my pre-poo, I do not spend much more then 15 minutes detangling. I detangle my hair with a wide tooth comb as I am washing out the my Deep Conditioner, under cool water, in sections. This does not take long due to the fact that hair has already been detangled, via finger combing during my pre-poo.
3) Moisture, Moisture, Moisture: The most challenging feat for a transitioner or natural woman is moisture. Moisture retention leads to length retention. After my co-wash, I usually Deep Condition using indirect or body heat, under a plastic cap and towel, for at least an hour. (If using direct heat (hair dryer), cover with a plastic cap and sit under the dryer for 20-30 minutes). I then follow up with my Tried and True Sealing Technique. I contribute moisture and length retention to sealing. After 20 months, my new growth (7 inches as of Dec 23, 2011) and my relaxed ends (about 3″ or so left all over) are all healthy.
4) Practice Low Manipulation or Protective Styles: Throughout my transition, I’ve opted for styles that kept my ends tucked. These styles are referred to as low manipulation or protective styles. The point of these styles is not only to make my lifestyle more simple, but to protect the ends (the oldest most fragile part of the hair strands) from weather conditions or everyday wear and tear from rubbing against your clothes. They allow one to retain moisture, thereby allowing one to retain length. This takes dedication and discipline, as most natural divas like to wear their kinky, curly coifs out, on display for the world to see. Protective Styles have made transitioning much easier for me, as they allow me to dedicate time that I other wise would have spent on my hair, to living life!
5) After setting Realistic, Attainable Hair Goals, Be Patient: All of us should want beautiful, healthy hair. If we dedicate ourselves to achieving this goal, we can attain it. Throughout your research, you will find many women who spout what a product has done for THEIR hair, which is possibly true for them. It is important to know that every head of hair is unique. Running out to find ‘get long hair quick’ remedies will surely disappoint. Patience is key. As long as your hair is retaining moisture and length, I’d say you’re on the right track and your hair will reward you.
6) Passionate Discourse, A Small Part of a Transitioner’s Journey:
Negativity has not been a huge problem for me but I have had a few friends firmly encouage me to cut my ends off, have heard the comments about transitioning being a “length security blanket”, transitioners having “short hair phobia”, among other things…
My suggestion is to do what is right for you. This is a personal journey that you should enjoy and use the time to develop a relationship with your hair. Think of it as starting a life long love affair. Once we reach our goal or the time is right to take it to the ultimate level (BC in a transitioners case) we will know and upload pictures of the sacred event.
I hope you find these tips to be helpful. As I gain insight, I will add to the list 🙂
Enjoy every stage of your transition 🙂