How to Prevent “Overwhelm” when Transitioning to Natural Hair
by aJwitaFrO

Story time. You’re tinkering along in your natural journey, and all of a sudden you find yourself completely overwhelmed and clueless. You thought you had it all together– the daunting volumes of information, tutorials, product reviews, ingredients to avoid… you knew it wouldn’t be easy, but you felt prepared. Then slowly, out of nowhere, little things that you didn’t expect start popping into the picture, gradually, things start piling up and you find yourself in a position where you literally just feel like QUITTING. Sound familiar?

You’re not alone. There were times in my natural journey that I felt the same way… I had watched (and re-watched) so many YouTube videos and read so many blogs that I thought I was well equipped with all the knowledge I needed to take care of my hair and style it properly. Unfortunately, I found myself clueless on the day to day care… which is a very important piece! I would rely on the simplest styles like puffs and braids because I had NO CLUE how to do anything else. I felt lost. At one point, I had my hair braided so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it on a daily, but because I have such a fine natural hair texture, I experienced severe breakage and tangling. I couldn’t even get protective styling right!

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So one day, I decided that I was going to challenge my hair again. I was determined to learn my hair so that I could wear versatile styles and be comfortable with other things aside from just “puffs” and braids. I started experimenting with my hair and I created a very amateur process for my wash n gos. I would literally wash my hair everyday with shampoo and conditioner, come out of the shower with beautiful curls and not put ANY product in my hair because I didn’t want to ruin the curls. Well, I’m sure you know how this story ends… my hair became very dry and brittle. I thought, ‘there must be a better way!’ That’s when I discovered the use of gel for curl definition and started working on perfecting my wash n gos. At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering, how this relates to the topic of the post. The point is that I was seriously overwhelmed and at an utter loss of solutions for my hair. I decided that I was going to commit to the process of learning my hair and I took BABY STEPS to learn new things and become an “expert” at styling. Trial and error.

In my experiences, I’ve learned some key things that will hopefully keep you from becoming “overwhelmed”:

1. Commit to the process: No matter what, you must always remember and reflect on the reasons why you went (or are going) natural in the first place. This will get your through the difficult times.

2. Start with where you’re at: At one point in my hair journey, I was totally overwhelmed… too many Youtube videos! I was watching them all the time. I was at one stage of my hair journey, but I was watching videos for styles and tips from people who were at a completely different point in theirs. Take your time and ease in slowly.

If you have a TWA, instead of watching videos of people who have waist length hair, you’ll want to find videos that you can relate to, learn from, and apply the knowledge right away. The same thing goes for your hair type and texture. I love watching girls with type 3 curls, but I’m a type 4 so a lot of the products and styling techniques they use might not necessarily work for me. They’re lovely to watch, but if you’re at a loss for what to do with your hair, you need to find people you can relate to in terms of your hair type.

3. Buy your staple products: Again, find people who have a similar hair type and texture as yours and see what they use as staple products on their hair. To avoid product junkie-ism, purchase one of each product at a time (eg, 1 shampoo, 1 conditioner, 1 leave in, etc..).  Work with those products and learn how they react with your hair before you decide to buy something else. Trial, error, and repeat if necessary!

4. Focus on mastering one style at a time: As I was illustrating above, the first “style” I really learned to master was the wash n go. I did that style until I was confident that I had it down, the styling, AND the maintenance of the style. From there, I moved on to other styles and I even learned how to install my own extensions and weaves. Yes, it gets boring doing the same styles over and over again, but there’s no better way to master a style. Natural hair can be very unpredictable, but learning a style can help you predict how your hair will turn out.

By now, you should be starting to see a pattern, taking BABY STEPS and doing things one at a time. Some people are naturally gifted when it comes to their hair. Even if they’ve been relaxed for decades, they can transition back to their natural hair texture and they can easily find styles and products that work for them. For the rest of us, it takes time before we know our hair and what works and what doesn’t work. Be patient in this process, and if you stay committed and take baby steps, you WILL get better and you’ll eventually be comfortable with your hair.

One of the most important pieces of advice I can offer to prevent from overwhelm is to limit the amount of learning that you do and the information that you take in. Ever heard of ‘information overload’? Well it’s real! A lot of people spend hours watching YouTube tutorials, hair videos, and reading blogs which is great, but once you leave the computer, a lot of that information hasn’t really sunk in so you just have tons of bits and pieces of different information and you haven’t learned how to put it all together. Try and master the things you learn from each video and article instead of just consuming hours of information and not doing anything with it. It’s not the amount of time you spend on the web learning that will determine your success. It’s the amount of ACTION you apply with the information you already have.

I would love to get your feedback on this post. Please leave a comment below!

To your successful hair journey,