Transitioning to natural hair from relaxed hair is a big step for many women. My decision to stop relaxing was totally random. I always stretched my relaxers at least 3-4 months and after deciding to go on an ultimate stretch of about eight months… I just didn’t see the point anymore. Once my transition to natural hair started, I learned early on that it’s a very personal decision. You should be the only one making choices about your own hair. There are so many people who are going to be in your ear attempting to tell you what to do. My family and friends were and still are very supportive, but I do run into random strangers who feel the need to tell me I should do the “big chop” or get locs. Ummm, no thank you. The best advice I can give is to follow your heart. I get a lot of questions in my inbox about transitioning and I’m going to take the time to answer a few of them today.
Should I big chop or do a long transition to natural hair?
There is not a right or wrong answer to this question. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable. Some people do the big chop or shave their hair off immediately upon making the decision. It’s the quickest and most dramatic option. Others don’t cut their hair until months or years later opting for a long transition. Personally, I’m waiting at least 2 years before I cut my relaxed hair off. I do a search and destroy on my ends weekly, and trim gradually whenever I straighten. There really is no clear cut guide to follow, just do what works for you.
What hairstyles can I wear while growing my hair out?
There are many transitioning hairstyles you can wear. In my opinion, the easiest styles are curly styles. You can try straw sets, roller sets, braid extensions, cornrows with or without extensions, braidouts, and twistout styles. They are low manipulation hairstyles and all can be done without using heat. I usually only rock twistouts and wet buns, but lately I’ve been wearing wigs more often to keep my hair protected. One of my friends wore curly weaves for two years before she cut her relaxed hair. So that’s an option too.
Note: If you’re going to transition with braids or weave, do not get your hair braided too tight and stay away from micro braids.
My family and friends are not very supportive… What should I do?
You’re going to have to dig deep and keep pushing if going natural is truly what you want to do. Your family and friends will more than likely come around. If you need support, there are many natural hair care communities online including black hair blogs and black hair care forums where you can find others who are on the same journey.
How should I maintain my hair while transitioning to natural?
The number one recommendation I can make is to deep condition your hair often, and keep manipulation to a minimum. You will be working with two different textures and the (demarcation) line where your natural hair meets the relaxed hair will be very fragile and prone to breakage. Handle your hair with care and be patient. If you feel the need to rip through a tangle, take a break and try again in 10 minutes. Last, try to avoid heat as much as possible while transitioning from relaxed hair. The last thing you want is heat damage when you finally decide to cut your hair. And if you’re going to use heat, use the lowest possible setting and make sure to always apply heat protectant.