When it comes to transitioning, breakage has always been a big concern. Maintaining and manipulating two completely different textures yields a significant amount of “wear and tear” on the hair. As your natural texture begins to grow in, your relaxed hair will become increasingly more and more fragile with time. But that doesn’t mean that you have to experience severe shedding and breakage. There are definitely ways to keep your hair relatively healthy throughout your transition. Keep in mind that the way your hair responds to transitioning will depend heavily on the state of your hair at the start. So if your hair is already broken, damaged, and/or prone to breakage at the onset of your transition, you may have a more difficult time minimizing breakage than someone with a healthy head of relaxed hair. Either way, you can successfully transition to natural hair without experiencing heavy breakage by following a few simple tips:
1. Keep it stretched. One way to see less tangles and therefore less breakage is to keep the hair as stretched as possible as often as possible. This will make your wash day much easier to endure. You won’t be ripping through tangles at the demarcation line or pulling out balls of shed hair.
2. Don’t be afraid to trim. How often you trim will depend on the length of your transition and the length of hair that you are comfortable with, however, sometimes exceptions need to be made for the betterment of your hair. If your hair is continuously snagging and just all-around tough to deal with, getting rid of some of that relaxed hair can definitely help because it wars against the natural hair that is coming in. Remember that more important than the health of your natural hair is more important than length. It’s good to grasp this concept before becoming fully natural so you won’t be holding on to ends that really just need to go.
3. Stick to one style. We’ve discussed the benefits of sticking to one style. It keeps you from manipulating your hair too much and makes it much more likely that your transition will be an easy success. You don’t have to wear one style for the entirety of your transition, but choosing to master a style and wear it for 2 weeks at a time, if possible, will help keep your hair from breaking. When I was transitioning, I loved wearing flexi rods because they blended my textures, were easy to install, and lasted me all week without redoing them. You can also choose to protective style to give your hair a break, but remember to properly maintain your hair underneath.
4. Be patient when detangling. This is incredibly important because poor detangling can affect your new growth, which is what you absolutely do not want. There will be times when all you’ll want to do is comb through the strands quickly and easily like you could when you were relaxed, but don’t. Load up on the conditioner and brace yourself: you’re in it for the long haul.
5. Bye-bye Shampoo, Hello Conditioner. Pre-pooing and co-washing are great tools for transitioners. Sudsy shampoos (even the ones without sulfates) are drying to the hair, and even when you condition after this, it isn’t always enough to restore the moisture to your hair. Use a moisturizing shampoo that is not sudsy once a week and if you wash your hair during the week, co-wash instead of applying more shampoo. Clarify every 4-6 weeks to remove any possible build-up and remember to deep conditioner (preferably with a steamer) afterwards to give your hair an instant boost of moisture. Following these steps will maintain your hair’s moisture level which will make everything: (conditioning, detangling, and styling) easier and will keep breakage at bay.