January 29, 2014

Things You Should Know Before Going Natural- Transitioning to Natural Hair


by Chelsea of Curly and Young

As a new natural, things can get very confusing. There is a wealth of info out there, but looking for it and figuring out how to implement the plethora of knowledge into your regimen is a whole other ball game. Plus, it is hard to find the info that is inexpensive and easy to implement for a curly on a budget. So here is a compilation of all the things that I would have liked to know before going natural, as well as simple and cheap tips and tricks to help newbie naturalistas get started... Enjoy!

Read On>>>



There are two ways that you can embark on your journey, you can either:

Do The Big Chop (BC)
This involves cutting all the relaxed ends of the hair off and growing your hair out naturally.

Long or Short Transition

This process involves stopping the use of relaxers on your hair and allowing the hair to grown in naturally whilst trimming off the relaxed ends gradually. This method is preferred as it allows the transitioner to gain a sufficient length of hair that they are comfortable with and get to know their hair and how to care for it before taking the plunge.

MOISTURIZING 

Proper moisture is an integral part of caring for your natural hair. Because of the kinks in natural hair, it is very difficult for the natural oils of the hair to travel down the shaft and keep it pliable and nourished. Thus, as a natural, it is imperative that you moisturize your hair and often. Here are some easy things that you can do to keep your hair moisturized:
  • Use water; water is by far the best moisturizer known to man. In between a styling session, simply dampen the hair then seal in the moisture with a light oil or butter (jojoba, grapeseed etc). A popular method of doing this is with the use of a spray bottle. Usually water, a light oil (jojoba, grapeseed, olive) and glycerin is combined and used as a style refresher or light moisturizer during the day.
(Distilled or boiled water should be used for mixes to ensure that a bacterium is not introduced to your mix. Also, to prevent the mixture from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria, mix small batches at a time. Lastly, a few drops of an essential oil like grapefruit seed extract or tea tree can act as a preservative for your mix.)
  • Use a water based moisturizer; continuing with the water theme, any good manufacturer of a product will know that the best way to moisturize the hair is using water thus, any good moisturizers will contain water as the first ingredient. Having mentioned water based moisturizers, I should also explain that some moisturizers are oil or butter based. In and of themselves they are not moisturizing. The way they work is by trapping water near the hair shaft and softening as well. Thus, they should only be applied to damp hair or over a moisturizing leave in and never on their own.
  • Another easy and inexpensive way to get your moisture on is by baggying. This method involves placing a shower cap on your head for an extended length of time (usually done whilst asleep). This helps to trap the moisture around the hair and create a slight steam effect. I swear by this, method of moisturizing and have experienced whole days of moisture after one night of baggying.
(If you run out of shower caps or your hair is big and puffy and laughs at the small plastic shower caps, then grab a grocery bag. They work just as well as shower caps and are larger to accommodate more hair. Simply put it on your head and to secure it gather the excess around the rim twist and tuck under. Not only will this help you get rid of all the grocery bags lying around the house and make you feel less guilty about your environmental footprint, it is also cheap.)

If you neglect all else, please remember that failure to properly moisturize your hair will lead to tangles and breakage.


DEVELOPING A GOOD REGIMEN


It is critical that as a natural you develop a good regimen that you can stick to. For developing a solid regimen, click HERE, HERE or HERE

PROTEIN TREATING

Relaxers work by breaking the protein bonds in the hair that normally give the hair its kinky texture. Once those bonds have been broken to straighten the hair, it can become weak and brittle. As your new growth comes in stronger it is important to keep your relaxed ends healthy to prevent excessive breakage. The best way to do this is by deep treating the hair using protein treatments. Some inexpensive and well raved about protein treatments are Aubrey Organics Glycogen Protein Balancing Conditioner and Aphogee Protein Treatment. Also another inexpensive way to get more protein is by using Infusium products.

However a word of caution must be issued. Too much protein can cause the hair to become straw like and dry. To ensure that your hair has the right balance between moisture and protein conduct the simple test here.

DETANGLING

As a natural with kinks and coils, it is imperative that we take caution when detangling our hair as every bend in our hair is a site where it is susceptible to breakage. To avoid breakage simple steps can be taken. The two ways that naturals can detangle is wet or dry. Here is a break down of the best way to go about detangling either way.

Dry
When detangling dry it is important to note that the hair is less elastic then when wet thus, and can break when tugged on. Thus, the best way to approach this detangling session is in stages. The first stage should involve the loosening of the hair and gentle separating of any large knots with the use of ones fingers. This is called finger detangling. Then one should use a large toothed comb to further detangle and remove shed hairs. Lastly, one can follow up with a finer toothed detangling comb or brush to remove all shed hairs or for styling purposes.

Please note that it is recommended that you lubricate your hair with a light oil or water to aid in detangling dry hair.

Wet

When wet, the hair is more elastic and lubricated which is probably why it seems to be the favored method of detangling. While it is more likely to withstand tugging, it can easily be stretched and weakened in this state. This method is best executed when the hair is soaking wet and loaded with a conditioner with plenty of ‘slip’ for easy detangling. This method can be approached the same way as detangling whilst dry i.e. in stages.

Please note that hair should always be detangled from the tip to root, and NEVER the other way around. Also to prevent tangles, hair should be detangled in sections and twisted or plaited immediately after it has been washed to prevent it from re-tangling.

Neither way is right or wrong... be gentle no matter which method you employ.

Tips for purchasing detangling tools
When one sets out to purchase a detangling tool careful consideration must be placed on the item that will be purchased. Things to keep in mind are:
  • Is the tool seamless? If it is not then it is highly likely that your strands could get caught in the tool and break off. This also applies to the little balls at the end of bristles on brushes. Ensure that the balls are seamless and not glued on.
  • Are the teeth spaced too close together? If the teeth are closely spaced then depending on your hair texture it may be difficult for you to get your hair through the spaces.

MISCELLANEOUS
Homemade mixes
As a new natural I looked forward to whipping up my own mixes at home. After being educated on the ingredients that were good for the hair, I took great pleasure in creating a product that I not only knew would be good, but that I knew exactly what was in it. Some easy products to whip up yourself cheaply and inexpensively are Deep Conditioners and Whipped Butters and here’s how.

DC's
The easiest way to create your own DC is by using a thick and creamy wash out conditioner as your base and adding ingredients to it. Things that you probably have at home that are good for your hair are oils (olive, coconut and castor) honey, mayo and eggs (for light protein), banana (puree well as banana can be a pain to rinse out), avocado etc. Simply mix it all up, apply it to your hair and wear a shower cap for no less than half an hour, then rinse. Please note that you can not mix large quantities of your DC to use at a later date as it can not be preserved.

Whipped Puddings
Another fun and easy DIY hair product is whipped puddings. They are usually created with butter bases like shea, mango and or cocoa butter. Ingredients like various oils such as olive, jojoba, coconut and castor oil can be added. You can either melt the butter and oil then stir it as it hardens, or use a hand mixture to combine the ingredients. Some women also include aloe vera gel to create a pudding that can also be used as a styler. Simply mix small batches using various ratios of oils until you find your right mix.

Ingredients to look out for...
Look out for oils like grapeseed, olive oil, castor oil, coconut oil, vatika oil (a mixture of coconut oil and various Indian oils).

Also aloe vera gel can be used as a styling agent and helps to lower the pH of the hair to close the cuticles and give your hair more shine (for more info on pH balancing hair click here).

Things you should know...
During the transitioning process you will see breakage at the point where your natural hair meets your relaxed ends (referred to as the demarcation line). This area is very fragile, and while gentle handling and moisturizing treatments help, some breakage is inevitable.

Detangling time will increase as your natural hair comes forth. Natural hair being more textured than relaxed hair will obviously take more time to detangle. However, transitioners may have a higher detangling time as the point where the natural hair meets the relaxed ends is extremely fragile and thus to avoid breakage, extra caution must be taken.

Not everyone will like your decision...
As young naturals this is particularly hard to swallow. We are at a time in our lives when we are looking to be accepted by our peers. The last thing we want is to feel alienated and deemed ugly. However, sometimes we do not give others enough credit. There will be people who will find you going natural a powerful statement and admire your bravery for doing so at a time when straight hair is deemed the only beautiful. Also they may find your new look different and cute.

However, there will always be the naysayers in your life and all you can really do is try to educate them and keep it moving. Your healthy hair and growth will speak for itself. Also, think about it if you allow what others say to play a major role in your decision making, then it speaks volumes as to what the rest of your life will be like.

What do you wish you knew before going natural?

16 Weigh in!:

Anonymous said...

I wish I knew that no matter what "curl releasers" or "Miss Jessies" or "Mixed Chicks" or yadda yadda yadda I use, my hair will still be the kinkiest of type 4 and I better get used to it.

MrsWardy88 said...

Amen Anonymous! But I do like Miss Jessie's when for a TNC. :)

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 3:01, I think a lot of people would do better if they accepted it like you did

Anonymous said...

I wish that I had known that just because a product made one Curly girl's hair look great; didn't mean that I was going to get the same result!lol

This goes out to Curlynikki. I think it would be a great idea to show different textures of hair and their result when doing product reviews.

Maybe the person doing the review can have other curlies with different textures use the same product and send them pics and while the person is giving their personal review they can also show pics of the other texture and their outcomes. IDK...just a thought. But I think that would help a lot of people!

transitiontogether said...

I'm transitioning now and am so thankful to have this plethora of information! So thank you for this wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

Way off subject but if CN got Corrine Bailey Rae on the couch I would die. I would just die.

Anonymous said...

I went natural before there was a "natural hair movement" and all this information on the internet about how to care for natural hair... I wish I'd have known about heat damage, how to protect your hair while heat stying and how to properly moisturize

Virgos Very Own said...

You know I really want to try this whole go natural thing but im scared that i may end up looking like a boy. last time i did this i just entered secondary school and i cried like a baby because i had no idea i was going to cut my hair. at the time, my mum took me to the hair salon with the impression that i was just going to get relax only to get there and find out i was getting my hair chopped off. i was sooooo sad i cried for days. lool. when i look back now i can laugh it off cuz it was funny but at the same time i dont think i wanna go through that again.

Anonymous said...

In my grade 4hair, i learned that water is not my friend. Daily spritzing with h20 that's not being chased with heaviest of hair moisturizers is a DISASTER waiting to happen.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I decided to go natural when the "movement" started because there is a plethora of information available to ensure healthy natural hair. However, I didn't know who much WORK it was; researching nonstop. However, I've never been hair lazy and enjoy experimenting with various products and styles.

Sincereheart said...

I decided to go natural 2 months ago. I had been thinking about it but I just decided to go ahead and do it. I love wearing my hair short and when I would need a relaxer and wet my hair I could see that I had a nice curl pattern. I sweat so easily in my head so I decided that it was no use of getting a relaxer when my style would not even last a good week (until I stayed away from hot places). I am a very impatient person so I know that will be the hardest part for me. I want to do the BC but I'm scared of what I will look like, how people will respond, or how I will feel. I love my short hair when it's relaxed but I don't know if I will like it being natural. Hopefully I will get the courage to cut the relaxed part of my hair off because I know I will get tired of wearing braids because I love to experiment with my hair. I have had mohawks with the sides shaved, designs, color, everything... so this will be another hair journey for me. I hope I enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

As a newly natural (1 month) I trully appreciate this information. I am clueless to products and how to maintain my hair so this information is very timely for me. Thanks again!

Noir Mrs Smith said...

I am giving serious thought to going natural by doing the BC....I am worried that I will look like a man for a while, but feel somewhat confident that going natural will have more benefits than deficits which hopefully will make the transition a little easier to bear...I am concerned about hearing how hard and time consuming it is to be natural...I really dont follow this logic because I was born natural and was this way for the first 14 years of my life...the only obstacle was getting my hair wet and having to "grease my scalp" responsibly...in any case I feel a little hesitant, but a girl has to do what feels right and for me right feels like biting the bullet and cutting away the bondage of chemically treated hair...but I am still open to thoughts, opinions and suggestions...:O)

hunnybun said...

great list but about 2 years too late lol

BB said...

I think it's important to mention again that not everyone will like your decision, and that includes other's that are going natural. Some will say that it's better to transition and other's will insist on you taking the big chop asap. Know what works for you, and what your comfortable with. It's your hair and your decisions and in the end your responsible for your choices, make sure you were the one that made them.

BB said...

You don't have to do the bc you could always transition but it's your choice. I understand where your coming from though, I used to be natural until the age of 17, now years later i'm transitioning back, Though i actually find it easier cuz the more i learn about my hair the more i realize I don't have to freak out when it gets wet (since i have to moisturize it with water every few days anyways) and while i do put oil in it i don't add grease. It makes life so much easier and is actually healthier for my hair too.

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