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April 26, 2011

How to Transition to Natural Hair with a Weave


By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

When it comes to transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, hair pieces like weaves ,wigs, and hair extensions, can become a girl’s new best friend. I did the big chop, but not all ladies want to go that route and dramatically sacrifice length. They rather do things more gradual. And I can understand and respect that.

That’s where weaves, wigs, and even hair extensions come in as great transitioning tools to aid in protective styling while letting you maintain an incredibly fabulous look. But they have to be worn correctly. Because bad hair pieces can (1) make you look a hot mess while (2) slowly but surely damaging your new natural hair and even, gasp, balding you in the process!

As a doctor, I would advise against wearing any weave or wig that’s uncomfortable or too tight. This will lead to hair breakage and even balding. And if you choose to wear any hair piece, I would also advise that you get it professionally done. Why? Because if going bald isn’t bad enough, some women also add insult to injury when they rock hair pieces that also look a hot mess. We’ve all seen those ratty, bird nest-looking weaves and wigs. Not a good look.

So future naturalistas, if you want to rock a hair piece while transitioning, I say go for it! And current naturalistas, if you want to use hair pieces for protective styling, that’s cool too. Just pay very close attention to maintenance and hair hygiene. Follow my 4 tips, and in no time, you’ll be well on your way to gorgeous natural hair!

1. Watch your hairline and loosen up
It’s not a good look to wear a wig that looks like its eating your forehead or wear extensions that are so tight that your eyebrows stay raised in a perpetually surprised look. And besides not being a good look, these are also the quickest ways to cause hair loss. Every time you remove that hair piece, you’re stripping hair right out of your follicles- which equals permanent hair loss. So if you want to use a hair piece, avoid tight styles and do not glue anything directly to your hair or hairline.

2) Take vitamins
When you wear a hair piece, it’s important to remember that you should also be paying attention to the health of your own natural hair underneath. There will come the time when you won’t want to wear your weave/wig anymore. So while you’re rocking your cute little hair piece, make sure to eat healthy, drink lots of water, and take vitamins. The thing to remember is that healthy hair starts from the inside out. So take a good multivitamin, biotin, or prenatal vitamins, which are great for optimal hair growth and hair health.

3) Moisturize your natural hair
While you wear your hair piece, you should also make sure you moisturize your natural hair- don’t just forget about it underneath your hair piece. There are tons of hair products options. I'm natural haired, was recently featured in Essence and talked about some of the hair products I use. You will have to experiment with what works for you. There’s bad stuff, good stuff, and great stuff. And when it comes to the bad stuff, I will say that there are a few ingredients that you should definitely limit or avoid. These ingredients are sodium lauryl sulfate, alcohol, petroleum and mineral oil- all of which cause buildup, are drying, pore-clogging and moisture-blocking. Instead use products from reputable brands, as well as products that contain great moisturizers like olive oil and jojoba oil.

4) Regularly shampoo, condition, and style
I cannot stress enough that regular shampooing, conditioning, and styling is a very important part of transitioning/protective styling with a weave or wig. Don’t go longer than 1 week without washing your hair. Buildup of hair products and bacteria, can lead to mild and even serious scalp inflammation and infections, which can also lead to hair loss. And if you’re fortunate not to get an infection, there is the embarrassment of having smelly hair. And nobody wants that. Basically, you can’t just slap on a hair piece and think that’s the end of things. You have to be as meticulous as you would have been without the hair piece. Comb it. Wash it. Style it. Wrap your hair at night. Be good to it. Love it! Even though it’s not your actual hair, it’s still a product that needs to be taken care of and maintained as you transition.

And that’s all folks! Now a few questions….

Are you considering using a weave, wig, or hair extensions to transition to natural hair? Do you currently wear a weave, wig, or hair extensions for protective styling? If so, can you offer any additional tips or advice?

Liked this article and want to know more about our writer Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Well show her some love on her Facebook fan page. A phenomenal mix of brains and beauty, Dr. Phoenyx is a physician, beauty & lifestyle writer, and media personality who encourages all women to be fierce and fabulous! And you can also follow her on Twitter @Dr_Phoenyx!

11 Chime in!:

Anonymous said...

This article is right on time for me, I am currently one year post relaxer and have decided to start wearing weaves to get me to the two year mark. Thanks for the advice.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I big chopped in February, and unless I specifically tell someone, they have no idea. I did not transition, so all of my hair was cut off except for about 3 inches of my bangs and temple area. This hair was left behind so I could easily blend my hair into half wigs. They are the best! In my opinion, they are much more natural since your hairline is out. And since they are removed daily, they seem to do less harm than lace fronts or sew-ins. I moisturize my hair in the morning, throw on wig and go. When I get home from work, I take it off and re-moisturize my hair. Curly wigs blend great with natural hair, and if you don't want to blend - rock a headband!

If you aren't comfortable with a TWA like me, or just need an easy affordable protective style, I highly recommend half wigs. Beware of tight wig caps and the wig combs, as they will cause damage. I nixed the wig cap because they are too drying and tight, and I only utilize a very small portion of the combs in order to avoid damage. Some people cut the combs out all together. I'll probably always wear half wigs as a protective style once my hair gets longer. Great article!

Anonymous said...

But what if the style using extensions? how would you keep them looking neat after washing?

Abby said...

Hmmm...interesting article, I've been contemplating twist extensions but I don't know how exactly one would wash/moisturize those things. 0__o Especially since the hair is almost always synthetic. Can anyone help me out?

My God Given Hair 10 said...

My transitioning consisted of weaves and lace fronts until I finally got fed up and did my BC. This worked great for me because I just didn’t have the time of energy to deal with two conflicting textures. I kept my hair conditioned a braided. Ironically, I finally wore a twistout the week I did my BC. I transitioned for close to a year, July 2011 will 2 years since my last perm! In fact, tomorrow will be my 1-year BC anniversary, April 27, 2011! (YAY)

Anonymous said...

During the winter my protective style of choice are lace front wigs. I wore the wig for two months and my hair thrived. I did not glue or adhere the wig to my head because each night I'd take it off, moisturize and seal my cornrows and tie on a satin scarf. I also washed and deep conditioned my hair once a week. IMO, wigs are much better than weaves because you are still able to take care of your natural hair properly.

Pamela said...

This past winter I've worn half wigs and wigs off and on as a protective style. I really loved them! I tried to get as close to my natural texture as possible and oftentimes wear the front of my hair out to blend in with the wig or a headband to cover the front when I don't feel like blending. It enabled me to keep my real hair in twists underneath and to moisturize with a water/oil spritz daily. I haven't worn my wigs so much in recent months, but still keep them close at hand just in case I need a quick easy style and don't have time to mess with my real hair. Great article!

Anonymous said...

Informative article! How are you all blending your own hair w/ the half wig? I have worn braids/kinky twists several yrs ago, but have never rocked any kind of weave/wig so I'm super scared about it looking unnatural on me.

Divaangelic2 said...

I have never done the half wig - but I TOTALLY transitioned wearing sew in weaves. Why? Because I didn't have the time or patience to deal with my two hair textures. I wore sew in's for a whole year (and never straight styles - I wore curly hair to get myself used to seeing me with just the curls - and with wet&wavy hair, you ALWAYS need moisture to style - so my own hair in the sew in ALWAYS got the moisture it craved).

After a year of sew in's - I had a good 6 inches of natural hair, and I chopped the remaining perm. I now wear sew ins as a way to give myself a styling break a couple times per year.

Anonymous said...

@Divaangelic2 or any other with experience, how do you detangle and blow dry your hair for a sew-in? My hair is soooo hard to detangle and blow dry after washing. It makes it harder for the stylist!

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous... It is your stylists JOB better yet their CAREER to be able to detangle your hair. I am currently transitioning and using sew-ins, and I love it. I am using deep curly hair and very little of my hair is left exposed. Since the hair is curly I don't have to heat treat my hair. BE prepared. It will ITCH. Get a bottle with a tapered nose so you can get past the hair to your braids and I use Vitamin E oil. It works great.

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