CN: Were you a long term transitioner or short term?
I was a long term transitioner for 1yr and 7months. When I was relaxed I tried extremely short hair, and it brought down my self esteem so I knew I couldn’t BC right away. I found it difficult to manage and it didn’t fit my personality. This was my 3rd time transitioning so I knew I could do it.
CN: When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
I big chopped 10/20/2010. I woke up earlier that week and said, “It’s time”. Not to mention I have been holding off for starting a new job. I figured it would be better to get used to styling it before hand. I’ve been flat ironing for interviews and it has just depleted what life my ends had left. The BC was like styling my hair any other day I felt comfortable cutting it myself. I cut a few inches here and there throughout my pregnancy, so there wasn’t a lot of relaxer left. A lot of shrinkage to say the least.
CN: How did family and friends react to the new you? What was your response to them?
The reaction is mixed. My family and my job were the worst. I must say it played a huge part in my failed attempts to stay natural the first few times. I have a big southern family that ironically view nappy hair as rebellion. I here rooster, pikinini, or that my hair is standing all over my head. They try to clear it up often by saying, “you pull it off”, which is just a nice as saying “your cute for a dark skinned girl”. My fiance however has been very encouraging. Having gone to a southern black college he’s seen it all and rather prefers natural hair. I have help with blow drying, flat ironing, you name it!
CN: What was your transition routine?
My staple style was a fro pushed to one side, flat ironed, or in a giant puff to make the bantu knots stretch an extra few days. I used Garnier and Suave Sleek during my first transition. The 2nd time I used Design Essentials and Aveda. Gotta love Aveda in the blue bottles… Having been educated now, I realize that after a while the same products won’t do the job. Last stretch, I used Giovanni products and Yes to cucumbers conditioners. I wash with natural soap bars from applevalleysoap.com.
CN: How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the new growth line?
For moisture it has really been touch and go as far as products. The Yes to Cucumbers seems to do the trick. I literally just discovered the importance of protein and moisture balance. I happened to be doing it on accident. I buy anything with wheat, silk, or keratin. Even when I was relaxed I always left my conditioner in because my hair just behaves better. As for the breakage at the line of demarcation, with the exception of not ripping your hair out, there is no wonder product so, if you loose it, you loose it. Damaged hair is damaged hair if you can hang onto it great! This may not be good advice for all. I have very dense hair. I recall loosing the quarter back section when I was relaxed and hadn’t a clue until the stylist handed me a mirror to look.
CN: Why did you go natural?
I went natural because I have been relaxed all of my life since the age of 5. I believe the flat iron broke a lot of us relaxed women of doing so as often as possible. You realized your hair wasn’t that hard to manage after all. I have always liked big, long hair, and some of the longer naturals gave me inspiration to step out there. I was on a huge health kick in college and I felt the chemicals were sealing my fate of irreparable thinning with age. I realized youth was on my side. What happens to skin and hair after kids, age 40 etc… when your body stops compensating for the abuse you put it through?
CN: Any advice for those transitioning or thinking about Big Chopping?
If I had any advice for transitioning girls it would be: Keep pushing if you want results, it’s just like the ugly phase of a hair cut growing out. People aren’t always going to love your hair it’s important that you do. Take a break from looking at how other people deal with their hair, It helps for sure, but it can be discouraging if your texture doesn’t agree with your method. As a 4a type I can say detangling is near impossible without the right product. There’s no miracle but if you find something you like just keep with it. I have been from homemade products, you get what you paid for expensive products, scorched from the salon, sew-in, bad texturizer, and back. Lastly those working girls or of a mature age that feel odd wearing some of the natural styles, there are no rules, transition however you feel comfortable and let your hair out when you’re ready.