-Were you a long term or short term transitioner, and why?
My intention was to transition from March 2006-March 2007, as I hadn’t had short hair since infancy and I didn’t think my big melon cabeza would look good sporting a TWA. However, I had a horrific detangling session one Friday night at the 8.5 month mark and decided that a long transition was not for me.
-When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
On Saturday morning, December 2, 2006 I headed to a local barber shop. About 1 hour later, I emerged with a fierce TWA. The barbers and other guys in the shop held up their Black Power fists and called me “Soul Sista” and “Cleopatra Jones”, and it didn’t help that I was rockin’ a long leather trenchcoat and high-heeled boots that day! Admittedly, I was shocked and overwhelmed – the last time I had natural hair, I was 6 years old. Then I was mad that I had spent precious energy worrying about how I’d look with short hair. I loved it.
-What was your transition routine (products included)?
I washed my hair weekly with whatever shampoo was in the house (usually Pantene or Tresemme), then conditioned with Elasta QP Intense Conditioner, to which I added a dollop of olive oil or hemp oil. After conditioning & detangling, I applied a mixture of Elasta QP Mango Butter, Virgin Coconut Oil and a non-alcohol gel, let it air dry a bit, and then cornrowed my hair into 6 braids. Later in my transition, I got hip to conditioner-washing via Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey, and baking soda clarifying rinses as posted on Motowngirl.com. The best thing I did was ridding my product stash of all things containing silicones, petroleum and mineral oil (per the “10 Ingredients to Avoid” article on Nappturality.com). After this, I noticed that my new growth thrived. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that I had a treasure trove of healthy hair ingredients right in my own kitchen. Hey, if it’s good enough to eat, it should be good enough to nourish my strands.
– What was your staple hair style during the transition?
I started my transition with braidouts on air-dried hair to mask the texture changes. As the braidouts got old after a couple of days, I’d pull my crinkled hair back into a bun and attach a phony Afro puff. I particularly liked that style because it gave me a idea of what I’d look like with natural hair as an adult. Fooled a few folks, too!
-How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the new growth line?
Water, water, water!!! I misted my hair prior to rebraiding, and sealed with oil to keep my hair supple. I also limited the amount of manipulation to my hair (daily combing and rebraiding) and never went to bed at night without popping on a satin bonnet to preserve my style and protect my hair.
-Why did you choose to go natural?
I was always known as the girl with “all that long, pretty hair”, and I admit that a lot of my identity was wrapped up in the long, swinging hair mentality. I tried to go natural once before at age 19 after a bad relaxer application, but didn’t have the tools, information or the support to make that effort a success. After sweeping the bathroom floor of my hair one day after a wash and blow-dry, I thought back to how long and healthy my natural hair was as a child. I wondered, why do we as African Americans feel the need to “fix” what we were given naturally? I was tired of the all-day Saturday salon visits, the relaxer and curling iron burns, burnt-smelling hair for days, running from the rain, avoiding swimming pools – TIRED!!! My only regret is that websites like nappturality.com, Motowngirl.com and naturallycurly.com weren’t around to guide me in my 1st transition!