– by Antonia
They say the road to success is lined with many tempting parking spaces. So is a natural hair journey. Teronda Seymore of ClutchMagOnline.com, wrote an article back in June explaining her return to relaxers. In the article she details her initial decision to go natural as well as the missteps she took that ultimately led her to slap globs of “creamy crack” on her roots, nape and edges in a moment of transitioning-hair-exhaustion.
Going natural, whether you big chop or transition is a process… a long one. It requires a habit change and changing habits (whether it be hair habits, eating or fitness habits) is difficult. So we’ve put together a few pointers to help those embarking on natural hair journeys stay on course.
have the right expectations
A natural hair journey begins before you big chop or begin transitioning. It starts when you start thinking about it. This is the point where you really have to manage your own expectations about your own hair. You may have been inspired to go natural because you’ve seen pictures or videos of girls whose hair looks like the hair in the image to the right and thought, if her hair can look like that, maybe mine can too. Well, hate to break it to you (you’d find out anyway) but everyone’s hair is different and behaves differently. One of the reasons why going natural is often referred to as a journey is because it requires a lot hair-exploration: What’s your texture like? Which products work for you? What type of hair routine works for you? Questions like these usually are answered over time and you should mentally prepare yourself for that time.
Looking at others for inspiration can be helpful as long as your looking for hair style icons or vloggers who have your kind of hair. Actress and natural hair super star, Tracee Elis Ross, made some good points about loving your own hair type:
do the research
Take the time to learn about the ins and outs of natural hair before or during your journey. Natural hair for some people is completely new territory. The good thing is there is a lot of information out there created by people who’ve long set sail on their journeys and have shared their experiences. We put together this Natural Hair 101 to consolidate some of the basic information about natural hair into one place.
do the work. there are no shortcuts.
Like anything worth having, getting to natural hair nirvana takes time. If you went natural because you want long hair, growing your hair can take years. Hair vlogger Naptural85 big chopped in August 2008 and reached the below length by around 2012. As mentioned above, going natural is an exploration. You have to take the time to learn about your hair, experiment with your hair and products and determine what styles and routines fit your lifestyle.
A commenter on Seymore’s return to relaxer article shared what transitioning was like for her and how at various phases, over the course of about a year, she adapted her styles to the different states of her hair.
..The first 3 months wasn’t so bad, but I considered relaxing. I wrapped my hair EVERY night to keep what relaxer I had fresh. I only used heat on my hair once a week, which was usually Sunday for Church. The next 3 months [I wore] my hair in flat twist styles, which helped to blend my natural curl with the curl of the relaxed ends when twisted… Then came month’s seven through 12! Because my hair grows so fast, flat twists no longer concealed my transitioning hair. So I started to gel my hair down and in a bun or a pony tail. Then, thank God, I was turned on to lace-front wigs. …around month 11 or so my hair was just dry. My natural hair was so thick and the sparse relaxed ends were pitiful. A friend turned me on to Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. This changed my life and mind about transitioning. I washed my hair and used it as a deep conditioner (not the prescribed way to use it). My hair was soft and manageable. Three weeks ago, I had the relaxer cut off and I love it. I’m glad I did it. I was never going to be a TWA girl; so I waited a year and have about half the length of hair that I had when it was relaxed. If you can, hang in there! Your natural hair journey is more about YOU than the hair. You are strong and you have options… I am not going to say I’m a curly-girl for life. But for now, I don’t see myself turning back.
Finding the right hair styles to wear at various stages in your journey is key and can also be fun. If you’re transitioning, check out our top five styles to rock when transitioning.
find a hair stylist that specializes in natural and/or transitioning hair
Going natural isn’t something you have to do alone. You may enjoy the DIY process, watching tutorials, reading articles and posting in natural hair forums, but don’t hesitate to add a stylist in the mix. As helpful as your peers and friends can be when it comes to natural hair, there’s nothing like getting professional help. The tricky part is finding a good stylist/salon in your area. For those naturalistas or budding naturalistas in New York, Khamit Kinks is our go-to.
throw a wig or a weave on it
Being natural doesn’t mean that wigs and weaves automatically go out the window. Many naturals wear wigs or weaves as a form of protective styling or just to switch things up. BlackGirlLongHair spotlighted three weave/wig wearing naturalistas. Wearing wigs can be a great transitioning tool as they’re handy when it comes to the really awkward stages of a transition. Just be sure to mind the dos and don’ts of weave wearing as they’re a big culprit of traction alopecia (thinning edges). We’re big fans of wigs (without glue) at Un’ruly because they allow you more flexibility to care for your own hair than weaves do. They’re also a great way to switch up your style more frequently.
if at first you don’t succeed…
Big-chopping and transitioning aren’t permanent decisions. I cut off all my hair once (before I knew what a big chop was); I did it out of stress à la Britney Spears circa 2007. I rocked an afro and some wigs for a while, then threw in a relaxer because I felt like it. When I noticed my edges weren’t what they used to be (they were thinning) I decided I was done with relaxers. I was also very prone to getting burns when I relaxed my hair; so now just the sight of a relaxer makes my scalp tingle. I thus stopped relaxing my hair and wore wigs for about a year (still do) and before I knew it, the hair under my wig was 100% natural. I’ve both big chopped and transitioned without even knowing it, but from my hair experience, I know that neither is something you have to stick with if you don’t want to. But if you do want to stick with your natural hair and it doesn’t quite workout the first or second time, you can always try again, as long as your hair keeps growing.