CN: Were you a long term or short term transitioner, and why?
I would consider myself a long-term transitioner because I have been in a mental transition for many years. I have attempted to go natural two times, with the second time being the latest. The first time was in 2004; that was a very short transition as I had my BC about a month after making the decision. I relaxed my hair after 6 months because my self esteem was very low and I was not getting the support I had hoped for from my ex-husband. Till this day, I wonder how beautiful my hair would have been had I just left it alone. Today, I am comfortable with who I am, and have made the decision to live a more natural life in all aspects. I finally experienced my second BC on Friday after a 9-10 month transition.
CN: When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
My second BC was on Friday, May 8, 2009. My initial reaction was positive because I was simply ready for it. After going through the process before and doing a lot of research the second time around, I was prepared for the shrinkage… which was substantial. I thought that after 10 months of transitioning and very little breakage, I would have more hair post-BC. However, I was excited about the future and optimistic. Another reason for my positive reaction is that I did not go into this process hoping to have hair like someone else… with a perfect curl pattern or naturally glossy locks. I expected nothing more or less than what God gave me, and I would do my best to work with what I have. I decided to go with a coil-out for my out-of-salon do. It looks really cute, but I think that it will be tedious to duplicate.
CN: What was your transition routine (products included)?
My routine included a mix between sets (twist-outs, perm rods, flexi-rods), pressing new growth with ceramic flat iron, and protective styles like buns and up-dos. I washed my hair once a week, maybe every two and deep conditioned each time. My life style is too busy for co-washing during the week. I did a hot oil treatment every two washes. I tried to press my new growth the least, only when I had a professional conference or interviews to attend. My hair would last for about a week wearing it down and another with up-dos. My sets would last for about a week. I learned how to do flexi-rod sets late in my transition, but they lasted the longest (1 week+) and created beautiful up-dos when I wanted to extend before washing again. Twist-outs were not so fun and only lasted a few days. Depending on my style, I would either wrap my hair with a silk scarf and/or sleep on my satin pillowcase.
I decided to use natural products during my transition with the exception of Biosilk Silk Therapy for presses. I fell in love with Jane Carter Solution products: Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner, Moisture Nourishing Shampoo, Nourish and Shine, and Natural Hold Spray Gel. I really like the Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner. It is a deep conditioner that is instantly slippery and melts tangles. Detangling was never an issue with this conditioner. I would sit under the dryer with a plastic cap for about 25 minutes and rinse. I also used Giovanni Direct Leave-in conditioner after each wash for extra conditioning. It is also a great detangler. The JC Natural Hold Spray Gel is great for pressing locks to create a humidity resistant hold and achieve straightness. I used the JC Wrap and Roll for sets, which created lots of shine and detangled well. Sometimes I washed with a shampoo bar: Godrej Shikakai 3 in 1. It has an odor, but boy does it detangle well for a shampoo, way better than JC. It gets hair really clean without stripping moisture. I also noticed more of a curl pattern after use. Plus it was cheap, $1.99. I will use this most of the time and JC for clarifying now that I am completely natural. I will continue to moisturize on a daily basis with unrefined organic coconut oil (so light and creates great shine!), JC Nourish and Shine, or organic sweet almond oil (for scalp).
CN:What was your staple hair style during the transition?
As explained above, I had a couple of staples. Sets were dominant because I was paranoid of destroying my texture from pressing the new growth even once a week. I love up-dos, so pinning up my curls from the tail end of a set, into a messy up-do made me feel really sexy (lol) and produced the most compliments. About five months into my transition, I asked my mom to cut my hair gradually each month so that my BC would not seem so far away or a huge shock. The end result was a cute chin-length bob that I wore till the end of my transition. I had a lot of professional conferences (I’m a Finance major) for the last several months, so I wore my hair straight, only using heat when I washed it.
CN:How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the new growth line?
I actually have fine to medium hair that weighs down easily, so my task was to find a product that would not weigh it down. I alternated between JC Nourish and Shine and Coconut Oil. Both products were light, moisturized my hair well and created a nice shine. I even used them when my hair was straight, and my hair was still silky with bounce. I also put sweet almond oil into an applicator bottle and oiled my scalp finger combing through my hair the night before washing. I used the baggie method from “Mane and Chic” to do that, and I would wake up with moist hair. This would serve as my hot oil treatment. I am proud to say that I did not experience much breakage, only the expected shedding post-sets. I will have to re-assess my situation soon and see how my 100% natural hair responds to these products. I am trying to avoid being a product junkie again… I’m in recovery 😉
CN: Why did you choose to go natural?
I chose to go natural because I have had the desire to do it ever since I was in middle school. I did not have the courage to do it until I was 19, and even then it did not last long. I am now 24, and am comfortable with myself. I believe that true self-acceptance comes with accepting the body, including the hair that I was blessed with. I also went natural for my health. Black women have the highest rates for just about every disease, and I believe that if more research was conducted on our health and lifestyle, relaxer use would be a key common denominator. I chose not to wait for the medical evidence. By going natural, I have taken control of my mind, body, and soul!
Explanation of pics:
1: My 1st BC in 2004,
2: Hair before 2nd transition,
3: Transition style, flexi-rod set,
4: Transition style, old perm-rod set,
5: Transition bob, pressed roots,
6: Transition style, updo on need-to-be-washed straight hair,
7: 2nd BC last week,
8: Another angle of 2nd BC coil-out