1. Be Patient – Don’t set a time to become fully natural. Hair grows on average ½” per month. Look at your hair about 4-6 months into your transition to see where you are. Use this amount of growth as a gage to calculate your growth rate. This should help you determine how much longer it will take you to reach your desired “Big Chop*” length.
*Big Chop – Cutting off all of the chemically processed hair
2. Trim Regularly – Trim your hair every 4-6 weeks to prevent breakage. Don’t retain dead/split ends for lengths sake. This will only cause any split ends to split further up the shaft, causing unnecessary breakage
3. Find your Go To Style – Find your go to transitioning style. Trying to blend 2 very different textures can be quite difficult and frustrating, especially if it doesn’t blend like you may want it to. Bantu knot outs and twist outs (add a perm rod or straw to curl the ends) are a great go to styles to blend the two textures of your hair. Braids and weaves are a great option as well, but make sure your braids aren’t too tight that they pull on your edges. Also, let your hair breathe between each weave or set of braids. Try different styles that you can mix and match for different occasions.
Cleanse – When cleansing/shampooing your hair be sure to use a sulfate-free shampoo. When shampooing your hair concentrate on your scalp, cleanse your scalp every 2 day to every 2 weeks. This will all depend on your scalp. Don’t over cleanse and strip your hair of its natural oils. Also, don’t under cleanse and have buildup that can cause dandruff. I suggest starting with washing every week and seeing how your scalp reacts to it. If it’s too much, go longer between washes. If it’s too little, go shorter between washes until you find the right balance for you. Also, to stretch between shampoos, as washing your hair too much with even a sulfate-free shampoo can be drying, try co-washing*.
*Co-wash – to wash your hair with conditioner
Condition – Make sure to deep condition your hair at least once a week. Find a DC that works for you that will really moisturize your hair. I would say if you are not shampooing, then use a deep conditioner (DC) after you co-wash. For co-washing conditioners use one a cheap conditioner with lots of slip. I use Suave Naturals Apple Conditioner. It’s $1 at Walgreens. Be sure to find one that is inexpensive as you will be using a lot of it.
Moisturize –Learn this early, as this step will be key in your natural hair journey. Up until recently, I have always had a struggle with keeping my hair moisturized. Lately, what’s working for me is using products without silicones. Silicones are ingredients that stay on the hair strand and can block moisture in the air from flowing in and out of the hair naturally. Water will always be your best friend in the constant moisture battle. Always look for products where the first ingredient is water, this will help you keep your hair moisturized in between shampoos and co-washes. Also, try the LOC method (Liquid, usually water, Oil and Cream). I’m currently trying this method and it is working for me. After you shampoo or co-wash, with your hair soaking wet, seal the water with the oil of your choice. “The coarser your hair the thicker the oil should be.” Remember to mind the seasons, as winter can be more drying. Try different oils to see which one works for your hair. Then apply a cream based product over the oil. I’m currently using Camille Rose Naturals Moisture Milk. I also apply this when my hair is completely dry between washes.sulfate
5. Detangle with Care –Make sure to detangle your hair wet with conditioner in it. The more slip the conditioner has the easier it will be to detangle. Section your hair into 4-6 sections depending on the thickness of your hair. If necessary take the larger section and make smaller sections to make it easier to detangle. Use a wide tooth comb, start with the ends of your hair and work your way up section by section. Once each larger section has been completely detangled you can two strand twist the section, clip it away and start on the next section.
6. Back off Heat – Try to scale down using heat to dry or style your hair. Your hair is very fragile especially at the point when the permed hair meets your natural hair, the line of demarcation. Using too much heat can break off your hair or even cause heat damage. If you must use heat to dry your hair, do not use direct heat sit under a hooded dryer on medium to low heat settings. Air dry your styles if you can. If I know a style will take long to dry I start my hair earlier in the day and sleep in the style to set it for the next day. Bantu knots take extremely long to dry that’s why a lot of naturals wear them out or cover them as they go out so that they are completely dry when they take them out.
7. Embrace Your Hair – Curl envy happens to almost everyone. Start your journey trying not to see other naturals textures but excited to see your own texture take form. When I was first starting out I would see other naturals of all hair types and think “Oooo I want my hair to look like hers.” I can tell you now my hair looks nothing like any of the naturals I was looking at. I’ve learned recently, to embrace the bigness of my fro and love every curl, as they come in, wave, or straight piece for what they are and how they contribute to my hair.
8. Be Strong – Going natural is definitely not for everyone it is a lifestyle change. Many of us were used to going to someone else to do our hair every two weeks. Being / going natural takes patience. Patience for the times when your hair doesn’t seem like it’s growing, when it is. Patience when you style doesn’t quite turn out like you thought or the YouTuber that you learned it from. And patience for the whole process of transitioning.
Support is key and when you don’t have it, it can be frustrating. If you don’t have the biggest support system trust in the decision you made, STAY STRONG. Remember this is for you and no one else. Different generations equate being natural with things like radicalism, lower class and even being uneducated. Make a believer out of them. Show them how professional, cute, sexy and versatile natural hair can be.
9. Learning is Fundamental – Continue to learn about your hair whether it’s what products to use, styles or caring for your hair. You will never know too much about how to care for or style your hair. Join forums and talk to other transitioners and naturalistas about their journey and what worked for them. Just remember, the more you know the better you can care for your hair and most importantly retain the length of it. Try Thank God I’m Natural or The Journey Back.
10. HAVE FUN! – Enjoy this time and your hair in its many different stages.