Trasitioning from relaxed to your natural kinky/curly hair texture is a big - sometimes daunting - step. As someone who transitioned for eight months, I can completely relate. Chopping all your relaxed ends off at one go (aka Big Chop) isn't the only way you can go back to natural. If you're not comfortable chopping off your relaxed ends - rest assured, you CAN do it gradually by trimming your ends off as and when until YOU'RE ready! There's no rush and neither should you ever feel the pressure to do so. However, this new journey may bring about some challenges so, I've listed my top tips of making this transition as stress free and enjoyable as possible. You may find that you discover a lot more about yourself than just your hair though, so be ready to embark on this journey of self-discovery too.
1. Prepare Yourself
If you haven't already, you'll soon discover that transitioning isn't a one day thing - it's a lifestyle choice. You'll be re-learning (possibly for the first time) about your hair and discovering things that you never did before. Expect your hair to give you some days where you just won't know what to do with it - and that's okay. Throw on a hat or rock a turban! Whenever you try something new, there will be days when you want to give up; so before you start this journey, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Natural hair requires patience, practice and understanding your hair's unique needs.
2. Moisture, Moisture, Moisture
The weakest part of your hair is the demarcation line (where the natural hair ends and relaxed hair begins), so it's VERY important that you retain the strength of your hair by keeping it moisturised. This way, you'll not only reduce the snapping, but ultimately breakage. A great, simple way to prevent this is to lightly spray your hair with water at night, followed by a leave in conditioner and/or coconut oil.
3. Deep Condition Often
This is your New. Best. Friend. This adds moisture to your hair on a whole new level - from the inside out. Invest in an excellent deep conditioner when you can and generously apply it all over your hair. Read our article to see the best ways to deep condition your hair here. Deep condition your hair on a weekly basis - and stick to it! You'll truly see your hair flourish. Find out our top recommended Deep Conditioners here!
4. Balance Your Hair With Moisture and Protein
As important as it is to keep your hair moisturised, you also need to restore the protein in your hair that you naturally lose through daily manipulation. Your hair is made up of around 90% protein (aka Keratin - which is also your hair's backbone) so in order to maintain your hair's strength, you will need to replenish your hair monthly with a suitable protein treatment.
5. Clarify Your Hair Monthly
The gentle cleansers you use for your hair are perfect for retaining moisture and removing excess product build up. However, over time, your hair will have stubborn build-up that your gentle cleansers naturally cannot remove. This is where a clarifier for your hair is ideal, in order to give your hair a fresh start. It's recommended you use this in your regimen between 4-6 weeks.
6. Your Fears Aren't New
Will I be able to wear it to work? Will My boyfriend like it? Will it suit my face? What am I supposed to do with it? Will guys find me attractive? What will my friends and family say? Will I have the same nightmare experiences I had as a child? How will I find the time to do my own hair? ....and the list goes on! Trust me, none of these questions are new! The only thing I can say is to take comfort in the fact that women who are natural
have had the same fears - and are on the other side enjoying their natural hair journey. The best way to address a fear is to confront it head on and you'll soon realise it's not halfway as bad as you thought it would be :)
7. Heat Is Not Your Friend
For those of you who are addicted to your straighteners, it's time to go cold turkey! In general, heat (either from appliances or direct sunlight), should be avoided in order to maintain healthy hair to significantly reduce breakage. Remember, the demarcation line is the weakest point of the hair, so you don't want to add any excess tension at all. If you have to use heat, limit it to once every 3 months.
8. Don't Expect A Round Of Applause
It's a sad reality, but not everyone will support you on your natural hair journey and these people are most often women you know (with relaxed hair...). Probably 9/10 women today who are natural have experienced no support from at least one person. The truth of it is that most of the critics wish they had your courage to go natural, but they instead choose to mask it with criticism. Don't heed to that. In fact, it's important that you don't go natural for anyones approval but your own. End of.
9. Look For Product Ingredients
Most likely for those of us who were/are relaxed, you left all your hair product knowledge to your stylist but now, there's a whole new world of products for you to experiment with yourself! The most important ingredients to stay away from (on a regular basis) are Sulfates in shampoos and Non-Soluble Silicones in conditioners. Read our article on 3 Misleading Moisturizing Ingredients to find out more sneaky ingredients.
10. Step Away From The Chemicals!
For the time being, hold back on the chemicals. Not necessarily to relax, but moreso to colour your hair e.g. bleach, keratin blowdry. These chemicals can negatively affect your hair in terms of breakage, so it's best to not take the risk and leave your hair to breathe. Also for the record, a texturizer IS a chemical. It's simply a milder form of a relaxer, but the chemicals in it are still potent enough to permenantly change your natural curl pattern.
11. Embrace Your Hair Texture
Don't be discouraged if your hair type isn't the same as the girl whose hair you're admiring in that YouTube video or that Instagram page. Just as in the relaxed hair world, people think their hair is 'better' if it's long... well, in the Natural Hair world, some people sadly think your hair is 'better' if it's curly and/or big. This is a bare-faced myth/lie (take your pick). The hair that you were born with is the hair that you've been blessed with, so ENJOY IT. The moment you start comparing your hair, you're robbing yourself of enjoying the gorgeous hair you have.
12. Styling To Blend Two Textures
Finding the right hairstyle can be challenging, especially when you want to wear your hair out and blend your two different textures. The best way to do this is to curl your hair to camouflage both - without heat e.g. Bantu Knots, Twist Outs, Flexi Rods etc. There are a wealth of tutorials we have for you to try out, so be sure to check out our Hair Tutorials page. If you choose to tuck your hair away in braids/twists/weaves, you will also need to care for your hair whilst wearing them. Click here to find out more.
13. Keep Your Hands Out Of Your Hair!
The more you leave your hair alone, the happier it will be! Remember, even though our hair may appear resistant, it is actually the weakest of all hair types due to it's natural curls/kinks. Also, don't pull too hard on your edges with ponytails! They are delicate and need to be cared for!