CN: Were you a short or long term transitioner?
L: I was a short term transitioner (5 ½ months). My last relaxer was April 26, 2010 when I decided to cut my hair into a Rihanna cut. I big chopped on Saturday, October 16, 2010 on a whim. After work, I called my hairdresser and headed straight to the salon. I had no choice but to be a short term transitioner, because I had cut my hair so short. My natural hair took over and the scraggly relaxed ends had to go. (I’d been randomly cutting parts of my hair –first the back then the sides. I realized it was time to go see a professional.)
When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
Initially, I was self conscious. My hairdresser was about to leave work so she simply cut it off. (Besides, she is not familiar with natural hairstyles. But she is the only person I trust with a scissors in their hand aimed at my head.) It wasn’t styled. It wasn’t cute. I walked around that day feeling very uncomfortable.
How did family and friends react to the new you? What was your response to them?
When I got home, my husband was not pleased. Since my hair wasn’t styled and it had a lot of shrinkage, it looked like I had less than an inch of hair. Once he saw my hair stretched and styled, it slowly started to grow on him. He is just waiting for my hair to grow back, since he misses my hair. (So am I!) It’s funny because he was the impetus that started it all. He said I would look cute with a short cut and I desperately wanted a new look. And that is where the initial Rihanna cut came from.
My family has made jokes in fun, but they are very supportive. I used to be sensitive about the jokes, but now that I’m very comfortable with my hair I think their jokes are hilarious. (Confidence goes a long way!)My sister has been my biggest supporter. She is the one that introduced me to sites like curlynikki, other hair blogs and YouTube channels. She continues to be my cheerleader throughout my natural hair journey
What was your transition routine?
During my transition, my hair routine changed every week. I kept running to the store to buy new products. The best advice I can give to a transitioner is to start with the products that are already in your cabinet. Find out what is missing from your regimen…and THEN go to the store. When you buy products, pay attention to the ingredients that DO and DON’T work for you. Also, don’t forget to revisit products by using different techniques or try again once you become natural. Although there are a lot of resources out there, you still have to take the time to figure out what works for YOU.
Through trial and error, I’ve learned that:
· I still like “cones”
· I no longer like sulfate shampoos. (I switched to sulfate-free then one week I tried my sulfate shampoo again. I could immediately tell the difference. Sulfate-free for me.)
· I still use/plan on using quite a few of the products I used while I was relaxed
· What rocks someone else’s world, may not rock mine (i.e. Hello Hydration, Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner)
My staple products/tools:
· Avalon Organics Peppermint Oil Shampoo
· Giovanni Direct Leave–in
· Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner
· Coconut Oil
· Shea Butter
· Hot Six Oil (cones and all)
· Carol’s Daughter – Some of Marguerite’s Magic
· Denman Brush
· Bee Mine Curly Butter (Need to buy aloe vera gel for winter though)
· Cantu Shea Butter (I put it on old twist outs to get a wash and go look. Too bad my pregnant nose can’t stand the smell. I switched to Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, but I spritz water on dry hair…works better on damp/wet hair since there is less water content in the product.)
· IC Heat Protectant Serum (although I really want to try Chi Silk Infusion since I’ve heard great things about it. Recovering PJ addict… I know.)
· Tourmaline Ionic Blow dryer/flat iron (heat that maintains moisture balance when I use heat on my hair)
What was your staple hair style during the transition?
During my transition, my staple style was a rod set. (I sent in a tutorial on Curly Nikki!) At the end of the transition, I straightened my hair (I know, I know…but no heat damage here). My hair was half natural, half relaxed…they didn’t get along in a rod set. They started to become a matted mess. I also became pregnant at the end of the transition, so I was scared that sitting under a dryer for hours would harm the fetus. (The no saunas, no hot baths, no high temperature warning really scared me.)
How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the new growth line?
I’ve always stretched my relaxers for three or months, so I am used to handling the line of demarcation. I simply kept the hair moisturized, by deep conditioning, using oils, and daily moisturizing creams. I also never combed by hair at the line of demarcation and limited the amount of times I manipulated my hair.
Why did you choose to go natural?
That’s a good question. I’ve wanted to go natural since I was 18 years old. (I’m now 28.) While I was a teenager, my mother burned my scalp many times. (When I was 12, she burned all of my hair to my scalp. Surprisingly, none of my hair fell out.) So I’ve never particularly liked relaxers. I also hated paying all that money to get my hair relaxed. I began stretching my relaxers with my longest stretch being seven months. I even stretched with the attempt of going natural…but I always chickened out. Partly because I didn’t think I could go natural with my thick/course hair (there wasn’t a prevalent online natural hair community back then) and partly because I didn’t want to cut my long hair. When I finally got the courage to cut my hair into the Rihanna cut (due to sheer boredom with my hair), it finally helped me overcome that hurdle. My hair was already short, and I was truly annoyed that my haircut would require a relaxer every 6 weeks. My ultimate reason for going natural was that I had always told myself, that I would definitely go natural when I was pregnant. Well my time had come. With plans of getting pregnant – I’m now 18 weeks—I decided to finally take the plunge. To learn more about my hair journey (and my quarter life and baby journey), please check out my blog at: http://toya-quarterlifechronicles.blogspot.com.