By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

When it comes to transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, hair pieces like weaves ,wigs, and hair extensions, can become a girl’s new best friend. I did the big chop, but not all ladies want to go that route and dramatically sacrifice length. They rather do things more gradual. And I can understand and respect that.

That’s where weaves, wigs, and even hair extensions come in as great transitioning tools to aid in protective styling while letting you maintain an incredibly fabulous look. But they have to be worn correctly. Because bad hair pieces can (1) make you look a hot mess while (2) slowly but surely damaging your new natural hair and even, gasp, balding you in the process!

As a doctor, I would advise against wearing any weave or wig that’s uncomfortable or too tight. This will lead to hair breakage and even balding. And if you choose to wear any hair piece, I would also advise that you get it professionally done. Why? Because if going bald isn’t bad enough, some women also add insult to injury when they rock hair pieces that also look a hot mess. We’ve all seen those ratty, bird nest-looking weaves and wigs. Not a good look.

So future naturalistas, if you want to rock a hair piece while transitioning, I say go for it! And current naturalistas, if you want to use hair pieces for protective styling, that’s cool too. Just pay very close attention to maintenance and hair hygiene. Follow my 4 tips, and in no time, you’ll be well on your way to gorgeous natural hair!

1. Watch your hairline and loosen up
It’s not a good look to wear a wig that looks like its eating your forehead or wear extensions that are so tight that your eyebrows stay raised in a perpetually surprised look. And besides not being a good look, these are also the quickest ways to cause hair loss. Every time you remove that hair piece, you’re stripping hair right out of your follicles- which equals permanent hair loss. So if you want to use a hair piece, avoid tight styles and do not glue anything directly to your hair or hairline.

2) Take vitamins
When you wear a hair piece, it’s important to remember that you should also be paying attention to the health of your own natural hair underneath. There will come the time when you won’t want to wear your weave/wig anymore. So while you’re rocking your cute little hair piece, make sure to eat healthy, drink lots of water, and take vitamins. The thing to remember is that healthy hair starts from the inside out. So take a good multivitamin, biotin, or prenatal vitamins, which are great for optimal hair growth and hair health.

3) Moisturize your natural hair
While you wear your hair piece, you should also make sure you moisturize your natural hair- don’t just forget about it underneath your hair piece. There are tons of hair products options. I’m natural haired, was recently featured in Essence and talked about some of the hair products I use. You will have to experiment with what works for you. There’s bad stuff, good stuff, and great stuff. And when it comes to the bad stuff, I will say that there are a few ingredients that you should definitely limit or avoid. These ingredients are sodium lauryl sulfate, alcohol, petroleum and mineral oil- all of which cause buildup, are drying, pore-clogging and moisture-blocking. Instead use products from reputable brands, as well as products that contain great moisturizers like olive oil and jojoba oil.

4) Regularly shampoo, condition, and style
I cannot stress enough that regular shampooing, conditioning, and styling is a very important part of transitioning/protective styling with a weave or wig. Don’t go longer than 1 week without washing your hair. Buildup of hair products and bacteria, can lead to mild and even serious scalp inflammation and infections, which can also lead to hair loss. And if you’re fortunate not to get an infection, there is the embarrassment of having smelly hair. And nobody wants that. Basically, you can’t just slap on a hair piece and think that’s the end of things. You have to be as meticulous as you would have been without the hair piece. Comb it. Wash it. Style it. Wrap your hair at night. Be good to it. Love it! Even though it’s not your actual hair, it’s still a product that needs to be taken care of and maintained as you transition.

And that’s all folks! Now a few questions….

Are you considering using a weave, wig, or hair extensions to transition to natural hair? Do you currently wear a weave, wig, or hair extensions for protective styling? If so, can you offer any additional tips or advice?

Liked this article and want to know more about our writer Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Well show her some love on her Facebook fan page. A phenomenal mix of brains and beauty, Dr. Phoenyx is a physician, beauty & lifestyle writer, and media personality who encourages all women to be fierce and fabulous! And you can also follow her on Twitter @Dr_Phoenyx!