…from Tara Hunter
So we’re still early in the new year, a time when a lot of people like to make resolutions, changes and new commitments. Have you been thinking about going from relaxed hair to natural? Well now is as good a time as any to start! You can start the new year off by diving right in and cutting all your hair off or you can hold on to your relaxed ends while letting your natural hair grow in for a few months before cutting the ends off and sporting a TWA (Tweeney-Weeny Afro). You can also chose to transition over a longer period of time, which is what I did.
I applied my last relaxer in February 2009. Although I had contemplated it many times, it wasn’t until the end of March that I decided to stop relaxing my hair. I was tired of my thinning and breaking ends from constant hair colouring and flat ironing and wanted healthier hair. I’ve worn short haircuts in the past but this time I wasn’t ready to part with my length so I kept my relaxed ends, trimming an inch or so off every few months as my hair grew out. I experimented with different hairstyles: twist-outs, braidouts, puffs, wigs and weaves. By May 2011, I got to the point where I could barely tell if I had any more relaxed ends so I was finally done transitioning and became a full-fledged natural! Now, after a trimming another inch or so off in November, I have reached BSL (bra-strap length). My hair is actually longer than it was when I started my transition in 2009.
Was it easy? No! It was hard dealing with two different textures. At the beginning I wanted to relax it, after about a year I wanted to cut it! Thanks to YouTube videos, blogs and websites similar to Three Naturals I found a lot of information and confidence to keep going. Did I get some discouraging remarks? Yes! “Your doing what? Why?”, “But you hair is nice the way it is”, ‘”You’re going to wear an afro?”*side-eye* ‘, “Hmmm (long pause)…really?” and “Don’t do it!”
Was it worth it? YES! My hair is the healthiest it’s ever been and I love the versatility. I feel like I have a lot more styling options. As an added bonus, I get lots of compliments from friends, family, co-workers and random people on the street! I don’t mind the occasional “can I touch your hair?’ but the sudden hand-in-hair from strangers and the blatant weave-checks, I can do without.
Things to remember while transitioning:
- Try to deep condition often, weekly if possible. You may need to alternate between protein and moisturizing conditioners. After a while you’ll be able to tell what your hair likes and needs.
- Water is your friend. Keep your hair moisturized with water and then seal the water in with an oil and if you’re trying to retain length, focus on sealing and protecting your ends.
- Be patient and gentle while detangling. Two different textures makes this process more difficult. The line where your new growth and your relaxed hair meets is very fragile.
- If length is important to you may consider a long term transition beneficial: If you BC (Big Chop) after only a few months you may find that you will be trimming your natural ends while trying to maintain a particular shape or while still getting used to styling your ‘new’ texture, taking away from your length. When you transition over a long period of time, your natural ends and length are protected while only cutting off the relaxed ends, slowly, over time..
- Get support: Start your journey with a friend and keep checking with Three Naturals for tips and encouragement!