Hi Everyone! I'm Candace, a 20 something living in Washington, DC. This is my journey to natural story!
Were you a long term or short term transitioner, and why?
Very long term! I transitioned for one year to the day. I see some of you doing it for longer than that and I say kudos to you! To be honest, it took me a couple months before I realized I was even going natural. When I did, I wanted to wait awhile to make sure it was the right decision, and although I'd had short hair before, it was never any shorter than my ears, so I wanted to make sure I had some length first. I admire women that can wear the super short cuts, but my fivehead wasn't having no parts of that.
When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
I big chopped on April 23, 2012, so I've been natural for about eight months now. Initially, I hated it! It was shorter than I thought it would be and I thought it made my chubby cheeks stand out even more. To be fair though, I left the salon with wet hair-- when it dried, I could stretch it longer, it looked far less Soul Glo, and I liked it much better. By the next day I was (mostly) in love.
How did family and friends react to the new you? What was your response to them?
Almost everyone was in awe of how curly my hair was, myself included. I didn't get a perm until 7th grade, but I don't remember my hair being like this when I was younger! Apparently neither did my family, because I have a couple family members (ahem, Aunt Jan and Nana) who still ask me what type of roller I used to get my hair so curly. Can I live? Lol.
I think my parents were a little iffy at first, but they're coming around. It's weird because my father has lectured me for years about relaxers being bad for me (he's been on that holistic kick my whole life at least), but when I first showed him my hair, he wasn't so enthusiastic about the new 'do. On the flip side, I already expected my old-school mother to hate it -- she had made comments a couple weeks before my big chop about how my hairdresser's natural hair was cute...for her...but that she wasn't into that messy look. (Y'all know that "cute for you" tone I'm talking about!) But, she was almost as excited as I was about my new curls. Today, I can tell they both like it, and I might even have a convert soon in my mother!
What was your transition routine?
First off, let me say that Twist-n-Curls were my savior during my transition. I tried to do blowouts for awhile, but it happened to be summer when I really got into the thick of things (no pun intended), and summers in DC are HOT and HUMID! My blowouts never stood a chance. So, whenever I could, I got my roommate to flat twist my hair (ends wrapped on perm rods), and that helped to blend the two textures. When she was busy, I brushed my wet hair into a bun (with a poof at the top to take attention away from my forehead -- no Tyra here!) and went with that -- I was and continue to be hair technique-deficient. I also deep conditioned at least once a month, if not more.
As far as products, I was all over the place. I feel like transitioning is really the time to try new products and see how your hair likes them. I did find a good number of my staples during this period, but for brevity purposes, here were my main products: Shea Moisture Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo & Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner in the shower, followed by Komaza Care Califia Moisturizing Spray. For twist-n-curls, I'd use Komaza Care Califia Moisturizing Cream (it gave GREAT bounce, shine, and hold for me). For my buns, I used ORS Smooth-n-Hold Pudding.
What is your current routine?
Because I was such a product junkie during my transition, I had tried a bunch of products and had a decent idea or what worked for me. Since my big chop, I've rocked a wash-n-go about 90% of the time. Once a week, I wash my hair with shampoo (either the above mentioned Shea Moisture or Trader Joe's Nourish Shampoo if I need a deeper clean -- once a month or so) and follow with conditioner (Garnier Sleek 'n' Shine does wonders helping me detangle). I've found that the LOC method -- Liquid, Oil, and Cream -- works best to help me retain moisture, so I follow with that: Liquid - Kinky Curly Knot Today, Oil - EV Coconut Oil, Cream - Komaza Care Califia Styling Pudding (I cannot speak more highly of this product...if Rumplestiltskin asked me to choose between this and my firstborn child, I'd seriously have to consider). Ideally, I let that air dry completely (takes about three hours) or I'll dry with a diffuser, and then stretch a little using a blowdryer using this technique. I encourage all of you concerned with shrinkage to watch that video...it is probably singlehandedly keeping me natural. I used it with my Twist-n-Curls and I continue to use it with my WnGs. Oh, I usually co-wash after about four or five days if I want fresh hair, and do all that stuff all over again.
Now, forget everything you just read because winter is slowly but surely creeping to the DC area and I need a new routine -- walking out the house with wet hair has already made me sick at least once and I just don't have that kind of time as often it seems. Thinking to revisit my bunning days...anyone have any other cold weather hair suggestions?
Transitioning is HARD, but to me, it was worth it. If you're in the middle, stick in there! Play around with products, try different styles, scour the web for wonderful blogs like this one that may help and inspire you! There are times when you will feel ugly, there are times when you will feel like quitting, and there are times when you will feel like you're on top of the world. It's a journey. Enjoy the ride!