Natural Socialite

Keys for a Sucessful Transition to Natural Hair | The Natural Socialite

In Hair, Transition Tips on May 2, 2011 at 8:56 am

Tranistioning to natural hair is not an easy decision, and the actual transition is not easy as well. While the benefits of unlocking your inner beauty can be quite liberating and rewarding, no one said that this journey was easy.  My personal transition was very difficult for me, as I did not have (or was not aware of) all of the resources that are currently available to educate myself on proper transitioning methods & techniques. I hope to be this for you, which is why I have compiled this information to be used as a resource. Transitioning requires a lot of love and tons of patience.  Keep these tips in mind, and no perm formed against you shall prosper.

Let me start by saying that these tips are in no way “all-inclusive”.  This information is solely based on my research and more importantly, my experience.  If you speak with 100 naturals, you will honestly get 10,000 different suggestions.   Dont be afraid to try new things.  There is no one sized fits all answer to what will work.  You will ultimately have to find what works for you, and once you do….. please share it with someone else. Let’s get started.

Most people find that they have been unsuccessful in their transition because they have not educated themselves on how to properly care for their delicate hair.  While transitioning you are dealing with two types of hair, and you must learn to care for them both. The biggest piece of advice I can give (if I could only give one) would be to make sure you keep your hair properly moisturized.  Maintaining proper moisture will keep your hair manageable & help to prevent breakage at the line of demarcation, which is the weakest part of transitioning hair. 

What is the line of demarcation?

The demarcation line is the point where your new growth (natural hair) and relaxed hair meet. This is where you will 9 times out of 10 find that breakage occurs, and is also the reason many people opt to just do a big chop instead.  Managing two textures can be brutal.  After my 10-month long transition, I could not take it any more and opted to chop for this very reason. Treat this area with delicate hands, and handle with special care

What styling options work best for transitioning hair?

Just because you are going through a transition, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any styling possibilities.  It is much easier and alot healthier to allow your hair to dry naturally while transitioning, but I understand that this is not always an option.  My favorite style while transitionig consisted of two strand twists, set with perm rods on the ends.  This style allowed me to blend the two textures of my hair beautifully, and also provided me ways to keep combs, brushes, and my hands out of my hair. There is a great Youtube video (here)  that provides a great tutorial on how to do this style.  I used the exact same products that she mentions in this video, and they worked very well for me.  This hair tutorial ended up being my saving grace. 

I also highly recommend that you experiment with roller-sets, bunning, two strand twists, bantu knot-outs, flat twists and braid-outs.  If you prefer not to self style, braids can be a good option as well, but I would only use human hair (synthetic fibers are very drying, and causes friction that can lead to breakage). The main point to remember is that you should look for styles that require very little to no daily manipulation. If you choose to wear styles that use hair extensions, make sure you continue to properly moisturize and care for your own hair during the protective process.  Black hair is fragile and needs to be treated with the gentlest of care in order for it to flourish. Wide tooth combs, natural ingredients and your own fingers are the best tools and products for natural hair.

How often should I trim my relaxed ends?

This is completely up to you.  I trimmed my hair every 6-8 weeks in order to make sure I was able to retain some length to my hair. Hair grows on average 1/2 inch per month, so use this as a guide when deciding how often you would like to trim.

What advice can you give for proper moisturization?

As I have previously stated, moisturization is the key to avoiding breakage.  Make sure you use a wide tooth comb when detangling, conditionin the hair regularly, and give your hair frequesnt hot-oil deep conditioning treatments. This is essential to restore moisture and balance.  Deep condition your hair once each week if time permits.

What is co-washing?

Learning about co-washing was essential for me.  Many shampoos contain sulfates, which can be very drying for natural hair.  Sufates cause your hair to lose moisture, dry out, and break like there is no tomorrow. About half way through my transition, I began doing conditioner only washes and only used sulfate free shampoos once or twice (if I had heavy product buildup) each month. Conditioner only washing eliminated the possibility of over drying my hair, and repleneshed my hairs much needed moisture.  For extra deep conditioning and optimal moisture, add a few drops of jojoba oil to your conditioner & leave it in for at least 30 minutes before rinsing your hair with cold water.

Can I just flat iron my hair to blend the two textures?

It’s very common for you to want to flat iron and use heat styling tools to blend your kinky and straight textures, but understand that this comes with consequences.  Unfortunately, there is no way to tell how your hair will respond to direct heat until you use it.  Since natural and transitioning hair is weak and susceptible to breakage during the transition period, the use of heat styling tools (pressing combs, flat irons, curling irons, hand dryers) are not recommended at all.  Heat further weakens the hair shaft, and if not done properly could permanently alter the natural curl pattern of your hair (heat damage). If you must use any of these tools, try to limit the heat styling to only once per month and make sure you properly condition & use a heat protectant as well.

What about trying a texturizer on my natural hair?

If you are texturizing your hair, your hair is not natural.  Texturizers are chemicals that relax the curl pattern of the hair, and the results are permanent.  I do not recommend texturizers, as the results are unpredictable.  I have heard many horror stories of womeon with natural hair getting texturizers, and end up completely losing their curl pattern.

What products to you recommend for transitioning?

I really fell in love with the Cantu Shea Butter line of products.   My signature products from this line were the No Drip Hair & Scalp Oil and the Leave In Conditioning Repair Cream. I used the scalp oil to moisturize my entire hair shaft and as a base for the repair cream, which was used to set my twist outs before rolling.  I also recommend their Rinse Out Conditioner for co-washes, but I fell in love with Aussie Moist Conditioner and Herbal Essence Hello-Hydration conditioner which are very popular in the natural hair community as well.

What’s the hype with natural oils?

Oily hair is public enemy number one for women with relaxed hair.  Petroleum and mineral oil make up a large percentage of black hair products and all they do is clog your scalp and attract dirt to your hair. You do not have to “grease” your scalp for it to be healthy. The best approach is to apply natural oils directly to your hair, paying special attention to the ends, which tend to be dry. Natural hair loves oils, because they are a great way to make sure your hair is properly hydrated.  Coconut oil, jojoba oil and grapeseed oil are all good oils to start with.

What is the best way to detangle my hair & how do I care for it at night?

Detangling your hair is very important!! Failing to detangle properly will lead to hair breakage and failing to detangle at all will cause the hair to matte. First you will want to start from the ends of the hair while you have conditioner on your hair. Separate the hair into 4-6 manageable sections depending on the length and thickness of your hair. The next step is to lubricate the hair with conditioner to allow your fingers to get rid of the larger tangles and gently pull apart the hair that has clumped together.  Again, it’s not a bad idea to add a little jojoba or coconut oils to your conditioner for additional moisture & slip. After finger detangling, use your wide tooth comb starting from the ends of your hair as well.

Proper night time care is essential as well.  Make sure you are sleeping on a silk pillowcase or using a sating cap or scarf. Cotton scarves and pillowcases will only add to your breakage or tearing and both are very drying for your hair.

Don’t get discouraged!  No one said that this transition would be easy!  Set goals for yourself and look at pictures of  women with natural hair as inspiration. Natural hair is liberating and beautiful, but you will only get out of it what you put into it.

Feel free to email your transitioning & natural hair questions to AskCharlotte@NaturalSocialite.com and your question may be featured on this site! Check out the Natural Socialite Facebook page for inspirational photos and to network with other naturals around the world.

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  1. Very helpful, thank you for this!!

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