December 29, 2015

4 Signs a Long Term Transition to Natural Hair Isn't for You

Photo by NADOFOTOS -- Getty Images

Transitioning is not for everyone. Like many, I also wanted to seamlessly transition to a full head of natural coils in two years, only to find myself with scissors in front of a mirror ten months later. Washing, detangling, and styling my hair had become unbearably challenging in my later months. My schedule began to revolve around my hair and I had to realize that it is not that serious.

Hair means something different to each individual, but stress and frustration should not. Transitioning is ideal for someone who is patient, busy, and enjoys the simple things in life. I understand the discomfort of wearing a length you do not or are not ready to accept, but consider these four things to decide if a healthy transition is possible for you.

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1. Your relaxed hair is shoulder length or shorter
The longer your hair, the easier it is to transition. Gathering your hair into a bun and creating updos are easier with longer hair and more challenging with shorter hair. When your hair is shoulder length or shorter, it is prone to grow outward, especially with Type 4 hair, making it more challenging to style since the new growth will start to dictate the way you style your hair. Wet set styling like roller sets are the best options for hair shoulder length or shorter.

If you are not transitioning with roller set styles, then your styling options are limited along with your style longevity. Extension twists, braids, and wigs are great options for extremely low maintenance and manipulation, especially as styling is difficult with your short hair. Remember that keeping your hair and scalp clean and moisturized are essential for retaining the most length. Buildup can cause dryness that leads to breakage.

2. You can’t stick to low manipulation
If you like styling your hair more than once a week or have to wash it more than once a week, then big chopping may be the better option. All forms of manipulation cause tension on the line of demarcation, which leads to breakage.

Another thing to be mindful of is your hairline. If you cannot bear to leave the house without your edges being layed, then transitioning is certainly not the best option for your hair and scalp. Constantly brushing your edges and nape can cause breakage at the roots and traction alopecia. If you insist on smoothing your edges, try styling your hair the night before. Smooth your edges with your hands and a little product, cover it in a satin scarf, and remove it in the morning for a sleek finish.

3. You can’t decipher between breakage or shed hair
After transitioning for ten months, I decided to big chop. When I would detangle in the shower, I could not decipher between the shed hair and breakage covering my back every wash day, so in order to reduce the potential for further damage and potential split ends, I cut my hair shortly after and never looked back.

4. Detangling is a disaster
Wet hair is weaker than dry hair and dry hair is not elastic enough for detangling. The perfect medium is damp hair. When detangling has become so complicated that even the conditioners and detangling products with the most slip cannot help you unravel your strands, then it may be time to cut.

It is important to thoroughly detangle your hair, including the roots. Shed hair intertwined with hair that is still attached to the scalp can cause matting at the roots. A transitioning detangling tool kit includes a wide tooth comb, spray bottle, sectioning clips, conditioner or detangling product, and patience. Take your time and relax.

Did you big chop before you wanted to?

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