Going Natural 101– The Methods

Hair Idol-FrizzCurls

 Tammy Goodson of CurlyChics

The phrase “going natural” implies some sort of excursion or exploitation and in fact, it is indeed an adventure. A journey of sorts; with multiple paths, detours and diversions along the way. The decision to eliminate chemicals from your hair life, is a personal one and can be intimidating, as such, each journey is unique. Let’s examine the two distinctive options:

TRANSITIONING 

Transitioning is loosely defined as moving from one phase to the next. Under the natural hair jurisdiction it is a gradual modulation from chemically altered to hair in its natural form. It is a process in which you must be fully engaged in order to be successful.

Benefits 
• The most cited benefit of transitioning is you are afforded the luxury of maintaining length. Hair is cut off over a period of time until all of the chemically relaxed hair no longer exists.
• Provides the opportunity to change your mental state and adjust accordingly to your new mane. This unique shift in dynamic requires a different way of viewing oneself and one’s hair.

Disadvantages 
• One of the biggest disadvantages is the dichotomy that exists while transitioning. Dealing with the hair that is relaxed/chemically altered and the new natural hair that is growing in presents huge challenges, such as breakage and shedding and conquering the infamous line of demarcation.
 • This option does require a lot of time and patience so you must be able to believe in things unseen, in other words, have faith that the outcome will be worth it.

THE BIG CHOP 

The big chop refers to the act of cutting all of the relaxed hair off in one fell swoop, and leaving only the new growth. In terms of going natural, this is the “all in” option and is not to be entered lightly. I liken it to pulling off a band-aid rapidly; quick and speedy with no chaser. It is bold and aggressive while still maintaining a sense of vulnerability.

Benefits
 • Satisfies those who hunger for instant gratification; in that the state of natural is achieved instantly. • A clean slate – this allows you the opportunity to start off with a fresh, new head of textured hair with infinite possibilities.

 Disadvantages 
• It is transparent. The option to hide behind your tresses is no longer available.


Sharing hairstories and life experiences from a curl’s perspective. Find Tammy at her blog, Curlychics, on Twitter, and Facebook. 
 
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CN Says:

There is no right or wrong way to go natural, however I've observed (from emails and 4 years of blogging) that some women who choose to slowly transition rather than spontaneously big chop, are more likely to be happier with their decision and are also more likely to stay natural. This may be because some long-term or slow transitioners have the time to arm themselves with styling techniques, natural hair care information and the proper tools... they go into this thing prepared.  
But at the end of the day, as with most things in life, do you boo boo! Just make sure, whether you're big chopping after a week, or 2 year transition, that your arsenal is stocked and you're fully prepared 'cause the road can at times be bumpy! God speed! 

27 Weigh in!:
Miss Anne said...

Thank you so much for this post! It's most encouraging.

It took me over a year to decide - I'm gonna go natural. I knew instantly that I wasn't going to BC, Not because I was afraid of shorter hair (I actually enjoyed my permed hair shorter - but I wanted to learn slowly, take it easy and know it was the right decision.

Nearly 8 months into my transition... I know it was the right decision. I've come from having super dry and greasy hair on my first twist out (overkill on the coconut oil and not nearly enough moisture) to loving my faithful bantu knots and trying curlformers for the first time last month (loooove!). It's definitley kept me going and all the blog posts and CN forums have been so helpful to my learning and journey. Hopefully Nikki will let me share my journey when I BC next year.

I plan to transition for at least 18 months... the awesome journey continues :-)

Davina916 said...

I shaved all my hair off each time (3) that I decided to wear my hair in its natural state.

Shashou said...

I like her first comment about transitioning and its benefits. The part about it affording a change in your mental state. Amazing. I believe that the biggest part, well one of the biggest parts, is that if while transitioning you've afforded yourself the opportunity to learn and grow and listen. The biggest part about accomplishing this natural idea is changing your state of mind. I know for me over the years I've always wanted better for my state of mind concerning my hair. When I went natural it was a flood of excitement for something different, some better and something that was me.

missmajestic said...

Funny, I was getting ready to disagree with Nikki, then I remembered my own experiences which are an example of what she said. I just did my 3rd big chop after not relaxing for 5 months. I didn't stay natural after my previous big chops (the 2nd time I chopped off my 3 year old locs) I didn't know how to style my natural hair. It was dry and I was just misinformed about products. I can't cornrow and and don't have the patience or dexterity for nice small twists to wear out of the house. This was years ago when I thought natural meant afro or fade, cornrows or twists...or what I called the lazy puff. #judgeme. So maybe transitioning would have encouraged me to be more committed. I would have been an ideal transitioner because my relaxed hair was healthy. But felt I catered to my relaxed hair instead of the natural hair growing underneath. I wasn't detangling properly and letting that ish get matted underneath. And I thought as long as had the relaxed hair, I would be tempted to just get a touch up as opposed to relaxing a virgin head of hair. So I guess the big chop is easy if you are brave. It is just hair but if you've never had really short hair a bc can be traumatic! It will be a year not relaxing next month and I can't wait until my hair gets longer

Georgina Chong-You said...

I did a long-term transition and I agree that it really did arm me with the right techniques and tools to stock in my arsenal, so that I could be confident about going natural.

Gina said...

I did a long-term transition and I agree that as a result I was armed with the use of hairstyles, techniques, and products to keep in my arsenal so that I could be confident while transitioning.

Brianna said...

I will be ending my transition in December(16 months). After a year of having two textures, I am more than ready to be rid of my relaxed ends.

Adding on to transitioners being more likely to stay natural, I think you just become accustom to your hair. Especially if you cut your relaxer off little by little over time. I have big chopped in the past and relied on heat because my hair was too short and I get bored easily. Transitioning allows a multitude of hairstyles.

DiscoveringNatural said...

I am transitioning, will be 10 months for me on Sept 1st. I love that I chose to transition because I have learnt SO MUCH over these months and will prepare me for when I am fully natural. If I had to do it again, I will transition. I know that if I had just gone ahead and BC, I would have been frustrated. I'm not good with change, and transitioning gives me the opportunity to get over my fears, start blogging about my experience, create a facebook page to share about my experience, tweet with other naturals and transitioners and even share pictures on instagram about my journey... yes... as I learn, I also share through youtube videos and forums such as CurlyNikki. Yeah! For Transitioners!!! Check me out: DiscoveringNatural dot com, twitter, facebook, and instagram!

DiscoveringNatural said...

I agree with you. "Transitioning DOES allow for a multitude of hairstyles"...

DiscoveringNatural said...

This is totally why I am transitioning. How long did you transition for?

Bobby said...

On Sep 1st I will have transitioned for a FULL YEAR!! Excited, hyped and cant believe how fast the year flew by. I would NOT change my decision to transition, I wanted length and didnt want to BC and wait for what I already had to grow back! I had no idea what my natural hair would even look like. During this journey i have learned what products to use and not use, read and watch videos of fellow curlies, without the internet, this transition would have never happened! Now Im just waiting for the rest of my relaxed hair to grow out no BC for me!

NancyM said...

On September 4, I will have been transitioning for 18 months. It gets easier as time goes by. I agree with this article in that transitioning gives you the time to prepare mentally as well as physically. Going natural for many ladies is a just as much of a mental adjustment as it is a physical one. I've learned so much in these last 18 months. My original goal was to transition for 2 years, but I don't know that I'll make it that long. Now that I have more new growth than relaxed ends, I think I may chop this fall so that I can start the new year 100% natural....

Gina said...

For 2 years, and I had fun playing with different styles along the way. :)

abrunnin said...

" It is transparent. The option to hide behind your tresses is no longer available" truuuu *2 chainz voice* but seriously its a bit mental. You HAVE to be prepared to look at yourself without hair for a few months.

Gwenn4ya said...

I went straight for the big chop. It was something I wanted to do for so long and one day I just got up the nerve, went to my hair dresser and said cut this mess off to my new growth! She asked if I was sure and went to cutting.....all the while I was say I sure hope I did the right thing! Afterwards, I got called "Florida Evans" for a while, but I liked it no matter who I looked like! I don't think I would of had the patience to transition, but I do know the advantages and disadvantages of big chopping!

Safarascurls said...

I like that this article is straight to the point. I am a long term transitioner and I always wondered what it would be like to big chop (although my hair is the shortest its been in 20 years). After reading this article I feel good about being a long term transitioner. I don't like change and the mental preparation is what I needed most. I was surprised to find that I didn't have type 4 hair, I kept waiting for it to come. I am finally accepting the fact that I have thin type 3 hair. So yeah changing your mental state is right on point!

Megan M. said...

Just as Nikki stated there is no wrong or right way to go natural. I personally know people who will tell you that the right way to go natural is to do the big chop instead of transitioning, even I believed that before I found out on Youtube and CurlyNikki.

Brownstone Beauty said...

What an encouraging post. I just posted about a healthy way to transition using sew-in weaves---which is the route that I took.

Anonymous said...

I have come to realize that those that say "go head and big chop" big chopped themselves and want others to do what they did. SOME big choppers regret chopping so soon cause of slow growth and then they chop again as if that will speed up the process....

Anonymous said...

I can relate, I was waiting for 4bc hair and was pleasantly surprised to find out I have 3c/4a hair and not as thick as I would have thought...

Pat said...

I did a big chop two yrs ago and loved it, I still wear my hair short, it suits me and so easy for me to maintain. I don't do lots of styles, hair is fine and unravels easily so twists are NOT an option for me.

Derika said...

I'm in my 6th month of transitioning. It is definitely a journey. I couldn't imagine doing the BC because I've learned so much about my hair so far. I was totally clueless about natural hair. When things don't work out, I'm still able to tweak it a bit with shoulder length hair. I don't think I would've been strong enough to BC and being clueless about natural hair. I'm 8 months pregnant and I also didnt want to BC and get emotional and panic. I love that I have so much confidence just from reading blogs and watching tutorials on YT because I've already gotten negative comments from family. Praise the Lord for a supportive husband! He loves my new growth! :-) Sorry for all of the rambling! I guess I just needed to let it all out!

John Evans said...

Being natural is best for our body. I do give importance to my hair as it is really hard and difficult if it will get damaged.

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SavanahRae said...

I relaxed my hair for five years so I remembered somewhat what my natural hair was like, so I did not mind having a short transition. If I couldn't remember I probably would have longterm transitioned for fear of the unknown. But maybe, I still wouldn't because I would have gotten impatient.

SavanahRae said...

It's all about what the person would feel comfortable, so I agree with you.

nise said...

I decided to bc after two years my hair does good on retaining length so it's still almost to my shoulders. I just feel like i'mve changed so much as a person its time to let go of the perm and i think i have had tons of practice so i'm ready for this besides i've always secretly envied those with stylish short crops... wish me lucck

Aprilnewgrowth said...

Oh! I love this blog! I learn something new everyday! Up until last night, I'd been transitioning for 10 months and I just cut the rest of the relaxer from my hair. I feel absolutely great about my decision to transition :-) I am LOVING my fro!

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