SIX THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN TRANSITIONING TO NATURAL HAIR

By Hadassah Agbaps - February 11, 2013

Source: kinkycoilyme

Hey naturalistas, how has your week been going?
Mine has been going really good.
I'm still rocking my curly weave though I miss my hair badly.

I still remember I promised a series on natural hair styles and how tos but I've been having a teeny weeny problem uploading the necessary how to videos.
In the mean time, I have some Nigerian divas transitioning to natural hair.
Y'all know yourselves so If you're reading this, a big shoutout to y'all!!!!
Well, some are transitioning smoothly without much issues while some are having issues with their transitioning. Some have given up...going back to relaxing after some months of transitioning but that's okay. It's YOUR HAIR and YOUR CHOICE and let no one EVER make you feel guilty or bad about it!
If you choose to start over, you'll only come back with more understanding about your hair.

Today's post will highlight the things you need to know as a transitioner and I'll write it in a question and answer format.
The popular questions I get with transitioning to natural hair are:-

Q1.   Do I need to go natural in the first place?
  A . This is really a personal question that I can't answer on your behalf. I can only advise you giving you the pros and cons.
The main decision lies with YOU!
The first question to ask is "why do I even consider going natural?"
You may have battled with breakage, discoloured,dry and brittle hair, hair loss,thinning hair,scalp damage, poor length retention, splits and so on.
You may be tired of scalp burns during the relaxing process and poor salon services in general.
You may be nostalgic about the thick gorgeous hair you had back in the days before relaxers or may have envied the tresses of somebody with natural hair.
You may have children now and feel reluctant to relax their hair and want to be a role model for them.
Examine your personal reasons and see if it is strong enough to motivate you as you transition back to natural hair.
Let this be YOUR choice... because you need to be confident enough in your decision to withstand different opinions ....good and bad about it.

Q2. Are there other options to getting fuller, longer hair besides going completely natural?
   A.  There will always be choices but the question is which choice is right for you?
There are three permanent things you can do to your hair.
You can
   a. Relax - using chemicals (sodium/calcium hydroxide compounds) to permanently alter the curl pattern of your hair to straight.
   b. Texturise - using the same chemicals as above but in lower concentrations and in shorter processing time, to permanently loosen the coil pattern of your hair to larger curls / waves without hair being completely straight.
   c. Go natural - Hair is left in it's natural "virgin" state.
Some people may relax or texturise their hair and still retain length,fullness and colour while others may do so and experience breakage and hair loss.
Same goes for texturising and going natural. The most important thing is knowing what is best for your hair and caring for it appropriately.
The reason why going natural is encouraged is because the fragile Afro textured hair is in its strongest state when it hasn't been tampered with chemically.
Afro textured hair is the weakest of all hair types due to its flattened cross sectional area and low cuticle density. Chemicals strip the cuticle while breaking the bonds that hold coils in shape.
Some people have thicker strands cross sectionally which makes their hair less prone to chemical damage than others.
So consider your hair type to know if your hair will retain fullness, length and all the signs of healthiness.

Q3. What If I don't like my natural hair texture?
 A.  Some people may see my hair texture and go,
" Ah, you are lucky. Your hair is soft ,that's why you can go and stay natural. Mine is very strong /coarse/kinky/nappy. I wouldn't dare." Or
" I tried going natural. I stopped relaxing but my undergrowth is very strong and hard. I can't do it o!" Or
" When I was little, my hair used to break combs and that is why I relax it till today."

For all this, I ask one question "how does your natural hair/undergrowth feel in water?" and 99% of the time, I get " Ah, it feels soft o....but once it dries it gets hard again."
There are two things...no, three things to consider

a. Presence of scab hair
If you have relaxed your hair for donkey years, there is a likelihood that your hair follicle has been damaged. Now imagine a wound. First it forms a hard scab as it tries to heal. If left alone, the scab sloughs off to reveal soft skin below.
Your scalp and hair behaves much in the same way by forming hard scab hair at first as your follicles heal. Then slowly as your hair recovers, it becomes softer. So relax, with time, your true texture will be revealed!
b. Dryness
Remember the water question?
The reason your hair felt soft was because it was moisturised. Maintaining moisture levels is important for soft, pliable, bouncy natural hair. For those who complain of hard hair since birth, think back to the hair care practices of those days..
You were probably combing your hair dry, using close sharp toothed comb, applying grease ( with petrolatum as the first ingredient ) to dry hair, using drying shampoos etc... so of course, your hair revolted by being dry, brittle, though, breaking that comb and being unmanageable to get back at you!
c. Hair texture
Is your hair tightly or loosely coiled?
Are your strands thick or thin?
What is your hair porosity? Is it high (dries out easily ) or low (take ages to dry)
These are all the factors to consider before you dislike your hair texture.
Give it a chance. Understand your hair type and work with it and see it respond positively to your care. Don't compare your hair with others.
I personally wish my hair was thicker and much more dense so I can rock full funky kinky twists!

Q4. Okay, I've decided to transition by cutting off all the relaxed hair! Now what?
  A. This is time to rock that teeny weeny afro and gradually learn and get used to your texture. Check out Natural Hair Basics for hair care and styles you can rock.

Q5. Okay, I've decided to transition by trimming off the relaxed ends little by little as it grows! Now what?
 A
.With this method you'll have two textures (straight and curly ) to manage and the point where they both meet is a breaking point!
Also, natural hair loves water and separates while the relaxed bits clump together and tangle. So how do you wash and moisturise?
I recommend "cowashing" with a silicone and petroleum free conditioner like VO5, Hair Fruits, NaturVitale for sensitive skin conditioners as these are easily available and affordable in Nigeria. Other good products are Carol's Daughter, Elucence, Organix, As I am, Shea Moisture, Kinky Coily, Giovanni, Aussie moist and Herbal Essences to name a few. They are not always available in stores but you can order from AfricanNaturalistas, NaturalNigerian to name a few vendors.
Nigerian products that work well for some transitioners are Petals conditioner, Beva conditioner, Vintage conditioner. These are readily available in Nigeria.
For more tips on transitioning, Check out Natural hair basics: How to transition.

Q6. I have a hard time washing, detangling and styling my hair. What do I do?
  A
.Try washing in sections and detangling with a wide tooth comb from tips to roots. Then loosely twist each detangled section.
For dry detangling, I recommend spritzing sections with a leave in conditioner or olive oil/water/conditioner mix. Always use a wide tooth comb.

So there you have it! For more answers, send your questions to nappilynigeriangirl@gmail.com or simply ask it in the comments section!

Live Beautifully. Naturally.
Hadassah

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