Some of you have expressed an interest in leaving the chemical relaxer behind and returning to your natural hair texture. This is certainly a personal decision that involves both mental and physical preparation. My decision was based on a number of reasons that I disclosed in the Ask Dionne page.
However, the main reason was due to extreme damage and breakage.
I wore my hair in a relaxer for 40+ years (since the age of 5) – it was all I knew. Not until I began talking with other naturals, reading and researching did I realize I had choices. Learning about alternatives to maintaining my thick, coarse hair was an enlightening moment for me. I was told my hair was like “sheep’s wool” and unmanageable. In the sixties, it was either a press-n-curl or a relaxer. I eventually landed in the latter category.
Well, fast forward to today, my hair is still thick and coarse but far from unmanageable. It has never been healthier. I love every twist, turn, curl, kink and coil. However, it does take extra TLC to manage my hair type but that’s okay with me. I’ve learned the importance of patience and building a relationship with my hair.
I transitioned for two months before my healthy new growth started to take over the thinning, relaxed strands. So off went the relaxed hair and I was introduced to my “real hair”. Since then, I’ve experienced a few challenges as well as victories. Still, I count it all joy!
Some of you may decide to allow your relaxed hair to grow out gradually over a longer period (e.g. a year or more). Others, however, may opt for the big chop as I did.
If you are looking to transition from the relaxer and into a more natural state, below are a few tips that helped me along the way. My hope is that you are motivated to stay the “course” (pun intended) and continue to aim 4 natural.
- Have patience
- Make your hair care routine a priority
- Spend time getting to know your hair and learn to love and appreciate her beauty
- Enjoy each stage. From the TWA to the BAA. Each stage has its rewards
- Be gentle when cleansing and styling
- Talk to other naturals and ask a lot of questions. Join forums, follow blogs, read books, watch videos, etc.
- Do your own research and become familiar with product ingredients
- Limit the use of heat appliances
- Use extreme caution when experimenting with commercial hair color
- Keep a hair journal
- Get frustrated and feel the relaxer is your only alternative
- Become overwhelmed by all the information available
- Experiment with too many products in the beginning
- Compare your hair to someone else’s
- Manipulate your hair too much (i.e. brushing, combing, twisting, curling, pulling, touching, etc.)
- Take the comments from other folks personal. This is your journey and only you know what lies ahead (joy, liberation and freedom)
What other advice would you give someone who is transitioning? Feel free to share your experiences below or in the forum.