CN: Are you a long term or short term transitioner, and why?
I am definitely a long transitioner! This month ‘officially’ makes 1-year. But as I write, I realize that it has been more like 14-months! I had braids for most of the summer of 2009. When I took my braids out I just could not bring myself to put anymore cream crack in my head! So I began to search for other ways to style my hair straight without relaxing. I came across Diva Smooth. For me at the time, I really didn’t realize I was transitioning; I just wasn’t relaxing. My 13-year old decided she no longer wanted a relaxer. I was shocked! She had only had a relaxer for 2 years but just hated the process.
With the Diva Smooth I was able to wear my hair the same way without chemicals. Then this summer, I unexpectedly went home to New Orleans (the humidity capital of the south!!!). I was home for the death of my step-father and my mother and I had several errands to run in preparation for the funeral. I had washed my hair the night I arrived and flat-ironed as usual. My hair was gorgeous, then I walked outside and it puffed up. We were out and about and no help in sight! We stopped at a store similar to Marshall’s. I grabbed a wrap and threw it on my head. The wrap was really big, so I twisted and did a big bun in the bag. It was fly! This was when I wrestled with going to get a box of creamy crack or embracing my hair in its natural state. For the rest of the week, I experimented with different styles; mostly a French roll or my wrap.
I called my girlfriend back in DC that is natural too. She told me if I could go without the relaxer in the ‘Big Easy’ (N.O.) then I could definitely do it when I got back. And I did. As soon as I returned home, I hit the internet researching and came across CN!!! It was like the light bulb went off. I had seen some other sites but CN had so much information. This is when I realized that I had been ‘transitioning’ all this time but not in the best way with so much heat usage.
Immediately I began trying twist-outs, Bantu knots and roller sets. The twist-n-curl is fast becoming my favorite.
CN: When do you plan to BC?
I probably won’t BC; not because I’m scared or anything, but I have had short hair for the past 20 years. It is never been a big thing for me to cut my hair and keep it moving! I always seemed my most confident when I rocked a short do; especially when I cut it down like Jada in the last scene of ‘Set It Off’! But I’m going on 40 and actually having hair is a BIG change for me, so I have decided to transition as long as possible, but I can’t stay away from the scissors. I find when my wiry relaxed ends stick out; I just pull out the scissors and cut away!!!
CN: How have family and friends reacted to the new you? How have you responded to them?
Surprisingly, my family has been very supportive. My husband doesn’t have a preference as long as I’m happy. My 13 year old daughter has been supportive and envious. She started transitioning at the same time I did but gave up after 4 months. Now she is starting over and mad that she didn’t hang in there when she sees my twist-outs. Co-workers (mostly Caucasian) are mesmerized; not quite sure how to react. My friends are supportive and encourage me every step of the way!
CN: What is your transition routine?
At first, my routine was using Diva Smooth (basically a DC) and flat-ironing my hair once a week after co-washing with Wen and doing a DC every Sunday. I would then wrap my hair at night and wear it straight. Now I co-wash with Wen on Saturdays and deep condition with Olive Oil deep conditioner under a heat cap for 15-20 minutes. I use Infusium leave-in con and style. I use Cantu Shea Butter on the ends. I have also just done Henna and am loving it!
CN: What is your staple hair style during the transition?
Until recently, it was flat-ironing. Now I wear a twist-out or twist-n-curl using Aveda Defining Whip Cream or Miss Jessie’s Curly Meringue.
CN: How do you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the new growth line?
Even though I was using some heat with the Diva Smooth, the process had my hair healthier than it had been in a long time with the relaxer. Everyone comment on how healthy my hair was. I love the Rosemary and Tea Tree shampoos that came with the kit and the virgin coconut oil. I use herbal oil by Oasis for moisture and a little shine.
CN: Why did you choose to go natural?
My girlfriend laughs at me because 10 years ago when she told me she was going to stop relaxing, I laughed at her and told her, “You go ahead. I’ll never do that.” Uh! I learned never to say never.
I had been doing my relaxer myself for some years and had over processed. I started to see holes in my temple area. No matter what I did, the spots would not grow back; even when I regularly went to a professional.
Over the past few years I have been trying to become more health-conscious. In doing so, I realized how damaging relaxers are. My daughter really gave me the final incentive when she started researching relaxers and how damaging it is for us. When she decided, I admired her and forged ahead as well. It has been the best decision I’ve made about my hair in years. I am once again become confident with my hair (I was probably most comfortable when it was all cut off). Now, I love the puzzled looks as I rock my twist-n-curl!!!
I, like so many sisters, had the fear of being in the corporate world and conforming our natural selves to the ‘system’. Now, I am embracing my hair’s beauty and the new freedom of doing so!