If you’ve made the decision to transition long-term, then you already understand the difficulty that comes with dealing with two textures. The line of demarcation (between the relaxed hair and natural hair) is a weak spot that is very prone to breakage and needs to be handled with kid gloves to minimize damage.
Handling your hair carefully is an obvious step, but what else can be done to prevent breakage? Check out these 5 pointers that will help your long-term transitioning go smoother and happier!
Detangle Very Carefully
Duh, right? When dealing with two different textures, it’s important to detangle the hair slowly and patiently. Saturate the hair with conditioner and finger detangle, starting from the ends. You can purchase detangling conditioner but any conditioner will do.
Be sure to work through any knots slowly as the hair is in a very delicate state and any unnecessary tension will cause breakage. Don't ever try to rip through your hair with a brush or a comb if you become frustrated with the tangling. Chill out, decompress, woo-sah, and come back to it when you’re not aggravated.
Enlist In Low-Manipulation Styles
Style your hair as little as possible if you’re transitioning long-term. Your relaxed ends are extremely weak and can break very easily when manipulated, even from simple combing or brushing. The more you have your hands in your hair, the more likely your hair will break off.
Styling your hair in protective styles such as buns, Marley twists and box braids so that the ends aren’t exposed is your good bet but any style that keeps you out of your hair is a winner. This will help reduce breakage significantly since your hair isn’t being manipulated on a daily basis and your ends aren’t snagging on your clothes and other harsh fabrics.
It’s important to keep your hair moisturized, but you may need to add a little protein to your regimen to keep it strong as well. Moisturizing hair may be a daily or weekly chore but using protein treatments or protein conditioners should not be used nearly as often as they may cause protein overload and make hair brittle and/or dry. It’s tricky trying to maintain the health and moisture balance of two different textures, but regular moisturization and deep conditioning treatments are the key components that can make all the difference.
Opt to deep condition your hair every time you wash it (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) so that the proper level of moisture is restored to the hair. Afterwards, use a leave-in conditioner of your choice to further moisturize the hair, and seal with an oil or butter to lock in that moisture. If your relaxed ends tend to be drier than your natural hair (which they will be), don’t be afraid to add a little more leave-in.
If you’ve noticed that your hair gets very hard or tough to manage after applying a product that contains protein, then you may be protein sensitive or may need to give another protein a try. If this is the case, you need to find products that either don’t contain protein at all, or contain very small amounts of it. Always remember that too much protein can cause dry, brittle hair that is prone to breakage and damage.
Keeping the hair stretched is another key to reducing the amount of breakage you experience during your transition and many transitioners opt to blow-dry the hair and even straighten it in attempts to achieve a sleek look. Regular heat application breaks down the protein bonds of the hair, whether it’s direct or indirect heat.
If you want to achieve a sleek, straightened look, then invest in some Curlformers, curlers or large rods to set and stretch your hair. Blow-dry the hair on the cool setting, if possible, or just allow the hair to air dry. Try using a diffuser because the dispersed air doesn't disturb the hair's wave pattern or cause frizz when drying.
Comb/ brush it out and, after applying some type of setting lotion, set the hair on your curlers/rods and let the hair air-dry or sit under a hooded dryer for 25-60 minutes (depending on the length/thickness of your hair). Now, just remove the rods and style!
As every transitioner knows, trimming has become your best friend. Every little cut is a step closer to your big chop and you can’t wait to reach that point! If you notice that your relaxed ends are getting rebellious on you (which they will), don’t be afraid to trim them. The whole point of transitioning is to eventually be natural, right? The more you trim, the closer to natural you’ll be and your hair will thank you for it!