Transitioning from Relaxed to Natural

Photo Credit: Glenford Nunez via Glenford Nunez Photography

Get motivated and set a goal
It’s important to remind yourself why you have decided to make the transition from relaxed to natural. Why do you want to go natural? Once you've got that in mind, set a goal and start working towards it. Be prepared. Some days might be better than others and there may be some bad hair days. Take a minute to remind yourself what it is that you want to achieve. Find your Hairspiration! Find whoever or whatever it is that inspires and encourages you to keep pushing and continue with this journey!

Start off with a good trim
Get rid of those split, thin ends. Whether you’re planning on transitioning long term or short term, if your ends aren't in good condition, it’s best to let them go. As you get further into your transition, they’ll become more fragile and brittle. Remember, focus on the health rather than length! You might also want to consider getting regular trims, cutting off an inch or two with each trim.

Ease up off the heat
I know this may be hard for some of you transitioning ladies, but I promise it’s for the best! By limiting the amount of heat you use, you’re keeping your hair healthy and your hair will be less prone to breakage. Breakage is inevitable, but blow drying and flat ironing your hair just makes it worse! The goal is to keep you hair as healthy as possible during this transition.

You also risk damaging your natural hair. That’s the hair you want to keep, so you don’t want to fry it. To keep breakage at bay, lay off the heat. This brings me to tip number 3…
  Find a transitioning hair style
The goal is to blend two completely different hair textures into one. This could be bantu knot outs, twist outs, braid outs, roller sets, flexi rod sets, twist and curls, curl formers, etc... It’s also a great way to limit the amount of heat you use on your hair. Try to master at least two protective styles so you don’t get bored and frustrated with your hair.

Protect those edges!
In experimenting with these different styles, you want to make sure you aren't causing a lot of tension on the temple area and the nape of your neck. The hair in these places are the thinnest and most delicate, and are prone to breakage. You also don’t want to cause early stages of traction alopecia from pulling your hair too tight.

Be gentle!
You want to be as gentle as possible with your hair! The point where your natural hair and your relaxed hair meets (line of demarcation) is the WEAKEST part of the hair. You don’t want to cause unnecessary breakage by pulling and tugging on your hair.

Also, as the hair grows longer, those relaxed ends will become thinner and weaker. You don’t want to cause those to break prematurely either from being to rough. 

Learn how to successfully detangle your hair
You want to figure out what’s the best detangling method for you without causing a lot of stress and breakage to your hair. Some say it’s best to detangle when the hair is wet (gently), while detangling on dry hair works better for others. Find out what works for you!

Experiment with different products different hair styles to see what works for you. Make sure you keep your receipts! Most beauty and hair care items are returnable. Keep your receipts so you don’t end up with a bathroom full of products that you don’t like.

Keep your hair and scalp clean
In experimenting with different hair products, you want to make sure to keep your hair and scalp clean to avoid product build up. Washing your hair every 1-2 weeks should suffice.  

Step your moisture game up….wayyyy up!!
Moisturize from ROOT to TIP! Keeping your hair moisturized and nourished is important for any hair type (relaxed and natural), but it is especially important when you’re dealing with two totally different textures. Relaxed hair tends to be weaker than  natural hair, so it is definitely important to keep your hair moisturized to prevent breakage.

Deep Condition weekly
Deep conditioning weekly further prevents the hair from breakage and keeps it well nourished. Step it up a notch by adding heat. Sit under a hooded dryer, a steamer, or throw on your Hair Therapy Wrap This opens up the hair cuticles and allows conditioner to really penetrate the hair shaft. Be sure to rinse your conditioner out with cool water to close up those cuticles and lock in that moisture.

It’s also important to maintain you hair’s protein-moisture balance. The proper moisture/protein balance is necessary for the overall quality of your hair. One without the other leads to breakage. Over moisturized hair (Yes, it’s possible) can lead to breakage, and protein deficient hair can lead to breakage as well. In the same respect, too much protein or moisture can lead to breakage. Check out this article for more info on balancing protein and moisture levels. 

Still confused?? Check out the video below where Audrey Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black Hair, uses pasta to help us understand the protein/moisture balance a little better. 

From Girlfriends to CURLfriends
   Just like any major life change, you’re going to need the support and advice from people who know what you’re going through. You may have friends who know nothing about natural hair and transitioning, so they may not understand what you’re going through. There is a plethora of natural hair blogs and websites as well as Facebook groups and Google+ communities dedicated to us curly girls. Make some curlfriends to help with your transition!    
Learn to love your hair!
This is extremely important in this journey. Love the hair you have on your head, both relaxed and natural. Don’t focus too much on the hair someone else has because it will just leave you disappointed and wishing you had hair like theirs. Everyone’s hair is different. Love and embrace what God gave you.

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