-Were you a long term or short term transitioner, and why?
I was definitely a long-term transitioner! I’d been a permie for several years, and I’ve always had long hair. So, changing textures AND going from long to short at the same time was just too much for me to handle. I wanted to have a good bit of length before I took the plunge.

-When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
My last relaxer was in April 2006, and I chopped off the last of my straight ends in January 2008. That’s what…21 months–WOW! While I was transitioning, I was so excited to see the new curls come in, but once I was completely natural, it was WONDERFUL! My curls were just so much bouncier when they didn’t have the relaxed parts weighing them down. At first, though, I had no idea what to do with my hair–what products to use, or what styles to try. It’s a learning process, and I’m still learning!

-What was your transition routine (products included)?
When I decided to transition, I really had no one to turn to for advice. I didn’t know about hair care message boards back then, and no one in my family had ever really gone through a natural hair journey before. So, I stuck to what I knew…I did basically the same things I did when I was relaxed. I washed my hair once every 7-10 days and would often wrap my hair and sleep with a scarf to help flatten the roots. The very first product I ever used was Lustrasilk Right On (don’t laugh…HA!). I would mix the “Extra Light Activator & Moisturizer” in with the “Right On Curl” to tame the horrible smell, lol. These two half-used bottles are now collector’s items…gathering dust underneath my bathoom sink. I also used the Pantene Relaxed & Natural line of shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizer. I think I just bought these because they said “relaxed and natural,” and well…I was “relaxed and natural.” I do still use the Pantene R&N moisturizing shampoo now that I’m fully natural–my hair loves it!

-What was your staple hair style during the transition?
I frequently wore roller sets in the beginning, because that was a good way to blend the two textures. I used smaller magnetic rollers when I wanted to wear my hair curly, and I wore larger ones when I wanted to wrap my hair for a straighter look. Headbands were especially helpful. By the later months of my transition, I started trying out wash-and-go’s, which looked decent but still not quite right since the ends would never curl up as much as the roots.

-How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the new growth line?
I primarily used the Pantene R&N moisturizer, for all-around moisturizing. I didn’t pay any more attention to moisturizing than I used to before (bad idea, ladies!). Thankfully, I didn’t experience much breakage until the very end of my transition. By then, most of the straight ends were starting to fall off. This was probably the thing that made me realize it was time to go ahead and just chop chop!

-Why did you choose to go natural?
I had been relaxed since a very young age, and I never really knew what my natural texture even looked like. When I was in high school, I started to get bored with the limitations of relaxed hair, and I did lots of things to try to achieve the “curly look” on my relaxed hair. I tried wash-and-gos and twist outs, but of course my hair just wouldn’t exhibit the textures that I wanted. Then, after I graduated from college and started making several lifestyle changes, I decided to re-think the way I approached my hair, too. And now, I take care of my hair much more than I ever did before. It’s never been this healthy!

April 2006

June 2007
BC