So you’ve been going back and forth about whether or not to go natural. Maybe your first attempt didn’t go as planned. Is a big chop right for me? What about transitioning? What products do I need? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. If you have decided that you really want to start a natural hair journey, but don’t want to do a big chop, we have some simple tips to help you get started transitioning to natural hair.
DO use a sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates are basically detergents responsible for the high foaming lather we’ve grown accustomed to in traditional shampoos. These ingredients strip the hair and scalp of natural oils (sebum) designed to moisturize and lubricate. As curly or kinky hair tends to be dry, it’s important to use a cleanser that will hydrate and not dry out hair and scalp.
DO deep condition regularly. Instant conditioners help smooth, soften, and detangle the hair making it more manageable. Deep conditioners go a step further. They are designed to nourish and replenish moisture to your tresses with quality natural oils, botanicals, and vitamins. Deep conditioners usually work with heat, as it raises the cuticle layer allowing conditioning to goodness to soak into the strands. You can use body heat by applying a plastic cap and warm towel to the hair or sit under a hooded dryer with warm heat.
DO moisturize and seal! This is a biggie. Curly hair is prone to dryness. This is because each strand has a coily or zig-zag pattern which doesn’t allow sebum–natural conditioning oil from the scalp–to travel all the way down the hair shaft. The L.O.C. method (using a liquid, oil, and cream) is especially popular for keeping tresses moisturized. Just remember to look for water-based moisturizers and a natural oil to seal that moisture in. Oils are NOT moisturizers.
DO try protective styles or curly styles that blend the two textures. The point where your natural hair and relaxed hair meet is called the line of demarcation. The hair textures are very different, so this is a weak spot. Keep your strands protected in braids or twists (but not too tight!) to avoid constant manipulation. Curly styles like roller sets and Bantu knot sets are great for keeping the hair uniform from root to tip. You can use small perm rods to curl the ends if necessary.
DON’T rush through detangling. Let’s be honest, it can be easier to comb through straight hair. You may be tempted to treat your tresses the same as if all of your hair is relaxed. Don’t. Take it easy on your new curly, coily, or wavy pattern–remember the line of demarcation is a weak point so be gentle. Apply plenty of conditioner for slip, and gently detangle wet hair in sections with a wide tooth comb starting from the ends and working your way up. It may add some extra time to wash day, but you’ll be happy not to have a sink full of broken hair!
DON’T neglect trims. It’s important to trim hair regularly even though eventually all of the relaxed hair will be eliminated. When left untreated, split ends will continue to creep up the strand causing breakage.
DON’T use excessive direct heat. It’s best to start conditioning yourself to not rely on heat styling. Using blow dryers and flat irons too often can result in dry, brittle strands which ultimately lead to thinning and breakage. Sounds a lot like the overuse of relaxers, right? Plus, the goal is to embrace your natural curl pattern, so there’s no need to keep straightening your hair. Now, heat does not have to be the enemy. You simply need to be responsible with how you use it and how often. ALWAYS use a heat protectant to prevent your delicate tresses from drying out. And use the lowest heat setting possible to accomplish your styling goals. Better yet, try using a hooded dryer and rock a roller set!
DON’T overwhelm yourself with tons of products and crazy regimens. What works for your favorite YouTuber may not be best for you. It’s ok to experiment a little, but don’t spend an entire paycheck on the latest product craze. Get to know your hair and figure out what it likes. Take advantage of sample sizes if available. Be sure to keep a record of what works and what doesn’t.
DON’T get discouraged. This is a new journey, and you’re bound to have some ups and downs. Don’t give up. Start a picture journal to document your progress. I promise seeing how far you’ve come will be super motivating. There are plenty of blogs and groups dedicated to helping newbies along their natural hair journey–join a couple for support. Embrace the new natural you, and enjoy the ride along the way!