How I Transitioned To Natural Hair
Me and my natural locks 🙂
I recently did a post on why I decided to go natural a few years ago. It’s been about 3 or 4 years since I embarked on the natural hair journey and less than 3 years since the big chop. A number of you expressed your desire to go natural as well but said that you have either tried and found it difficult to maintain the natural hair or you believe your hair is super coarse and are afraid it won’t be manageable. Some of you just asked for guidance on dealing with natural hair. I understand cause I was just as nervous when I went natural. I’m going to do a number of posts discussing my transition journey; my hair care regime; products I use and where I get them (plus other products that are in South Africa); hairstyles and how I do them etc. So be on the lookout for these.
To get us started, I thought to start from the beginning. I wanted to share about my personal journey of transitioning to the natural hair state. For those who are new to the natural hair game, transitioning is when you decide to let your natural hair grow out with the relaxed hair until you’re ready to chop off the relaxed/chemically treated hair. This was a personal choice for my sister and I, but you could choose to just chop it all off instantly. The main reason I chose to transition and wait for the natural hair to grow a bit longer was the fact that I didn’t think I had the face for a bald or really short haircut. Lol. To each his own!
Anyway, these are some of the steps I engaged in for the duration of my transition to natural hair (which lasted about 1 year):
- Using Heat and a Comb
As my natural hair grew out, I would use a comb to my hair as well as blowing it out with a blow dryer when needed at home or at the salon. I don’t use heat any longer on my natural hair now, but at the time it helped to get my desired results in terms of styling my transitioning hair. It was mostly painful but I made sure to use a wide-tooth comb to reduce the pain and better comb out the hair. I also avoided using heat on the regular and probably blew my hair out once a week when I was wearing it out. Heat is generally not good for your hair as it dries it out and leads to breaking. Try to avoid it as much as possible.
Use a wide-tooth comb. Photo Cred: Shopify Online
- Monthly Oil Treatments
During my period of transitioning, I still went to the hair salon for treatments. Since I chopped off my relaxed hair I have not been back to the hair salon to have it treated except for the one time I did a blowout. Instead, I wash and style and care for my natural hair myself at home because I find that at the salon they still don’t understand how to best treat natural hair. Anyway, during transition I would visit my hair salon of choice to get an oil treatment once a month. This was great to strengthen and nourish my hair as it grew and I felt that it helped with styling my hair better. Also, the salon stylists still knew how to deal with transitioning hair in this regard. I would sometimes do my own oil treatment at home using egg yolk – about 2 egg yolks for my hair. I would just beat the two egg yolks and rub them into already wet and shampoo’d hair that had been rinsed out, and sit with it under a shower cap for about 30 – 45 minutes before rinsing out and conditioning. So, make sure you give your hair the oil treatment it needs regularly as you transition.
- Products Used on Hair
In terms of the shampoo and conditioner that we used on our transitioning hair, my sister and I chose the Organic Root Stimulator range which we found at Clicks or Dischem. We made use of their Creamy Aloe Shampoo and the Replenishing Conditioner when washing our hair. I would wash my hair once a week or once every other week depending on how lazy or busy I was. Every so often, I would co-wash which is when you wet your hair and wash it with conditioner only. This has benefits for your hair because the chemicals in conditioner work well with our natural curly hair. You just need to be careful about the conditioner you’re using. In fact, knowing what is in the products you use is so important when going natural and the less chemicals, the better.
Organic Root Stimulator Shampoo and Conditioner. Photo Cred: Amazon Online
In terms of a leave-in conditioner, we chose to use the one from Motions. Again, we would purchase it at Clicks or Dischem but I am not sure if it is still being sold there. Nevertheless, as I said above you just need to look for a leave-in conditioner that is as natural as possible i.e. when you look at the ingredients it has, it should first list water and should not have a long list of other chemicals. You can also always Google what kind of chemicals to avoid in the shampoos and conditioners you use on your natural hair.
Motions Leave-In Conditioner. Photo Cred: All Women’s Talk Online
- Regular Protective Styling
When I was transitioning, I did not leave my hair out as much as I do now that it is completely natural. This is because it was harder for me to maintain the transitioning hair because of the two different textures. Also, combing it out and trying to style it wasn’t always easy. This meant that I regularly invested in protective styling which in my case came in the form of braiding hairstyles. I would do singles or cornrows. I would also go to the salon or to a friend to do thin and neat twist outs on my own hair that I would wear out and style. It allowed for my hair to grow, and it minimized breaking. I would advise you to do the same if you choose to transition to natural hair. It certainly makes the process easier and more bearable.
- Hair Moisturizer/Hair Food
As I transitioned, I wasn’t very fussy about what moisturizer to use. I would make use of the Organic Root Stimulator Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion. I would also make use of any other hair food or lotion that I felt I could trust at Clicks or Dischem. As mentioned above, the key is to look for hair food/moisturizer with less chemicals on its ingredients list. This is always the key when shopping for products for your natural hair.
Moisturizing Hair Lotion. Photo Cred: Hair Wig Harlem Online
- Watching YouTube Videos
My sister and I became natural hair YouTube video junkies. Lol. That is where I got most of the information about how to best take care of my hair while transitioning. That and visiting blog sites for natural hair. If you just type in “Transitioning to Natural Hair” in Google you will come across hundreds of blog sites and you can just pick the few that resonate most with you. The point is that many people have gone ahead of you on this natural hair journey so that it can be a much easier process for you. It doesn’t have to be that daunting or overwhelming. The key is to research as much as you can and tailor what you find to your own hair until you’ve found your rhythm. Don’t visit too many different sites as this will confuse you, but find one or two that you’re comfortable with and can keep going back to for advice.
This is a general overview of my journey to natural hair. I wasn’t so obsessed with the whole “What’s your hair type” and working with that. It confused me and I could never actually tell what my hair type was – if I was 4C or whatever. Instead, as I tried out different products and methods of taking care of my hair, I began to notice what worked best for it. I paid attention to what brought out the nice curls in my hair in terms of what I was using to wash it or to moisturize it etc and I would repeat. Also what gave it a healthy and long-lasting shine and bounce. As you do this, you begin to recognize what works best for your hair type. What works for me will not be exactly what works for you but the key is to get ideas here and there and tailor them to your specific hair type.
Above all else, have patience and perseverance!! This is not an easy journey. More times than not, you will feel like giving up but don’t. The end results are so worth it. I would say that when you’re getting tired of your hair, just braid it. Hide it for a while until you feel revived to try again. And keep reading up about the benefits of keeping your hair natural and reading about other people’s experiences with natural hair. It will encourage you to feel like you’re not the only one and will keep you going.
I will be posting more about my experience with my actual natural hair now in terms of how to best take care of it and style it etc. You will find these posts under the new category “Natural Hair Care”. If you have any other experiences or thoughts around going natural, let me know! Would love to share your experiences with others.