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March 15, 2013

The 10 Commandments of Transitioning

A re-post for our new transitioners! 

When you’re doing a long-term transition to natural hair, there are many days where you feel completely lost and you miss the familiarity you had with your relaxed hair. I get questions from women all the time wanting to know how I got through it, what products I used and what styles I wore. I try to be as helpful as I can, but the truth of the matter is that everyone’s hair is different and you really have to discover and learn for yourself.

With that said, there are some principles of transitioning that are applicable to any and every woman who chooses to take the journey. Here I’ve summarized those principles into 10 Commandments of Transitioning.

  1. Love your hair.  You will surely see some amazingly beautiful natural hair and think to yourself: "Wow, my hair will never look like that." Maybe it won't. But your hair can be just as healthy and fabulous in its own right. Admire, but don’t envy others and always appreciate the uniqueness of your hair.
  2. Be protective. When it comes to hair health and length retention, you must protect your hair. We live in an impatient world where we want quick fixes that require minimal discipline. But this is not realistic, particularly when it comes to caring for highly textured hair. Your delicate strands need to be handled with care, wrapped up at night and detangled gently.
  3. Keep your scalp clean. While you may shampoo your hair less, it is still important to keep your scalp clean. Keeping those pores open and clear will allow stronger hair to grow from them.
  4. Moisturize. This is a big one.One of the most challenging aspects of transitioning is learning how to keep your hair from drying out. Experiment with sulfate-free shampoos and learn which ingredients promote moisture retention and which do not. Avoid mineral oil unless you fully understand the downside of using it. Occasionally, you should use some type of protein conditioner or treatment as this will help fill in your hair cuticles and retain more moisture. On a daily basis, spray the hair with water and seal the moisture in with a good moisturizer.
  5. Trim your ends. Naturally, if you are transitioning you will want to cut off the relaxed ends frequently to move closer to your goal of 100% natural hair. Plus, the healthier your ends are, the easier your hair will be to style.
  6. Minimize heat usage. Particularly at the line of demarcation, where the natural and relaxed hair meet, your hair will be very delicate. Avoid heat damage and keep your hair as strong as possible by using heat sparingly, if at all.
  7. Deep condition. Particularly when shampooing, you want to impart moisture to your hair in stages. The benefits of deep conditioning can include moisturizing and smoothing damaged hair cuticles. The jury is out as to what truly constitutes deep conditioning and if it really helps to leave the conditioner in for more than five to 10 minutes. For the purposes of this list, it’s important to find an effective conditioner that noticeably softens your hair and prepares it for styling.
  8. Find a signature style. The only way to figure out your new signature style is to experiment. It will make your life much easier if you have a go-to style that is flattering and reliable in any weather, but still realistic for your hair type and lifestyle. We all like to feel some semblance of control when it comes to our hair, and many of us feel that control goes out the window when we give up relaxers. So, finding a signature style will give you some of that comfort and consistency back.
  9. Dedicate sufficient time for hair care. Many times, our frustration comes from the fact that we don’t set aside sufficient resources for the things that we want to do. Before you decide to do a long-term transition, take an honest look at everything on your plate and make sure you have the capacity to spend time on your hair. If you really don’t have time to care for it yourself, perhaps it would work better for you to transition with a long-term protective style like braids or weave. Consider all your options and be practical.
  10. Open your mind. The first time I decided to wear my hair in a bush, I was so worried about what people would think and say. Since then, I've found so much freedom and self-confidence from wearing my hair as big and unruly as I want. Feel free to be open-minded, creative, rebellious, contradictory—whatever you want. Be prepared to roll with the punches and be flexible.

What other principles have helped you transition your hair? 
What have been the biggest transitioning challenges for you? 
Share with us in the comments.

17 Chime in!:

Esther Komolafe said...

Great article

Davina916 said...

Great info!

Keisha said...

Eight months into a what I hope will be long term transition. I've learn not to be so hard on myself, and most of all, that I have to be ALL IN.

Dr Mermaid said...

It was easy in the beginning. At the 6 month mark it became challenging when my roller sets began to look crazy. I am now 7 months post relaxer and cut. Finding a good detangler was key, I wanted something to detangle well like Kinky curly knot today but would not leave my relaxed ends so mushy. I've finally found my holy grail deep conditioner--OMG, amazing. I think I have finally found something that works, it is an awesome feeling.

Bobby said...

11 and a half months into this transitioning game and Im loving it!! The longer it has gone on the easier it has become, my hair is about 50% natural and it just love the look of my new growth!! My go to style is braid n curl out...its my staple. Im going to continue til my hair is completely natural.

safarascurls said...

transitioning for 13 months now. I've had about 7 inches cut off from heat damage and now its back to touching my shoulders again. Looking back I'm glad for the experience & the different stages. Its definitely been lots of ups & downs. I finally understand the meaning of moisture/protein balance. Too far either way can be disastrous. I thought a year would be enough but its not. I'm still learning and it has become my hobby. I do agree with the other post that as time goes on it becomes easier. With all said & done I still don't have any interest in going back straight. This is way more fun & fulfilling.

Megan M. said...

Excellent article I will tell my friend to view this because she is thinking about going natural. Thanks.

NancyM said...

I'm 18 months into my transition. I agree with the ladies who have said that it gets easier with time. My original timeline was to transition for 24 months, but I may do it sooner. My new growth is now down to my shoulders when stretched, and I have about 2-4 inches of relaxed ends left. Now that I have more new growth than relaxed ends, I'm itching to just chop them off. Great post!

DiscoveringNatural said...

Please do share what your "holy grail deep conditioner is ... ;)

DiscoveringNatural said...

I'm 9 months in, and learning new things every week. I'm still have a lot to learn, but I finally got to the point where my hair stays moisturized. I'm doing this long term, so I am sure there is more to learn along the way, Nice post!

Gwenn4ya said...

I'm on month 19 of being natural and although it is great for me, I have had some times where it was quite difficult. I had to learn what MY hair likes as far as stylers and what styles work and what moisturizers to use. Sometimes it is still a lil difficult. I haven't mastered it yet. I'm still working on it. Thanks for the reminder about doing a trim. It's about that time! Great article!!

Jessica Coletrain said...

Great tips! I passed this along to a friend who decided on a long-term transition.

Knittingarch said...

Four months in, and I love my roots, although the detangling is getting tricky. While I've heard most of these tips before, #8 is really a great piece of advice that never occurred to me until a few weeks ago. I was trying a bunch of different styles that only lasted a day or two, and was kind of at a loss for what to do week after week. My go-to style now is two flat-twists down my sides and I either bobby-pin the ends under or I use a tie on the ends. When it's longer, I'll braid them together. It's quick, easy, and flattering!

SavanahRae said...

Agree on it being more fun and fulfilling.

SavanahRae said...

Transitioning was hard but with patience and practice it can become easy

Derika said...

Finding out my porosity helped me know what steps to take with caring for my hair. Cowashing doesn't work for me because of product build up. So I wash my hair with a sulfate-free shampoo every week and DC afterwards. It took me a while to figure this out because I heard so many naturals swear by cowashing. I had to find out what worked for me. Next week will be 6 months into my transition and it has been quite a journey.

Adams21 said...

Ugh!! the daily struggles of transitioning
Here is a video that gave me better insight
All worth it in the end just have to stay strong

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