Natural hair is becoming more popular all over the world and more women are throwing away their relaxers and embracing their natural curls. There are obviously women who prefer texlaxed or relaxed hair, and up until about 2 years ago I was one of them. I found it a lot easier to manipulate and manage during the week and as such always laughed and refused everytime my mum suggested I stop using relaxer. But times change and people change their opinion based on new information, so in January 2015 I decided to chunk my relaxer and transition to natural hair.
If you want to know more about my story and my decision to grow out my natural hair, then I'll suggest you read my post on Transitioning from Relaxed to Natural Hair. It wasn't easy and I did face a few struggles but it wasn't anything too difficult which I wasn't able to handle. And at the end, it was the best decision I ever made in regards to my hair. I'd really like to help someone who is stuck and deciding to transition or not, so here is a guide on how to transition long term to natural hair.
Say no to chemicals
The first step of your healthy hair journey is to get rid of all the harsh chemicals you have been using for your hair. Yes, brace yourself, go get all the packs of relaxer and box dye you have at home and throw them in the trash, or give them away.
Tone down the heat
I know it's Autumn, but I'm not talking about central heating. I'm talking about all your heat appliances. If you're trying to achieve healthy curls, you'll have to stay away from heat to give your hair a break. You'll be tempted to use heat to merge your two textures, but there are lots of other ways to do that.
Moisture is one of the most important things for your hair. Always start your day off by applying some water and leave-in conditioner and sealing it with an oil. Your hair will thank you.
I believe cowashing was what made my transition easier. This is when you use a conditioner to wash your hair instead of shampoo because conditioner doesn't strip your hair from all the natural oils like shampoo does. You can read my post all about Cowashing for more details. You'll need to experiment to find out how many days you can go before needing to cowash again. For me, this was about 3 days, after which I would notice my hair was a lot drier, so I knew it's time to cowash. You can use a special cowash conditioner or just regular conditioner like Tresemme Naturals or Herbal Essence Hello Hydration.
Deep Condition like your life depends on it
Deep conditioning frequently is just as important as moisturizing your hair. I would suggest you deep condition once a week to get your hair healthier and then you can switch to every two weeks. Use a deep conditioning mask such as the Dr. Miracles Damaged Hair Medicated Treatment or the Shea Moisture. Here is a post on some of the deep conditioners I used while transitioning and also my Deep Conditioning Routine while I was transitioning.
Give that hair some protein
Your hair is made up of protein and as such you need to add protein to your hair from time to time. You can prepare a DIY hair mask using Eggs and acovado, or use the ORS Hair Mayonnaise. Once every 3 months, you can give your hair a stronger treatment and use the Aphogee Two-step Protein Treatment.
Find your go to hairstyle
Experiment with different hairstyles to see which is the easiest for you to do and gives you the best results. As your go on with your journey, you'll have to find your go to hairstyle at different stages. About 3 months into my journey, my go-to hairstyle was two cornrows at night which I could easily take out in the morning and wear it down or style it.
Try protective styling
Whenever you get tired of your usual styles, try a protective style like Box braids, Marley braids or a wig which you can wear for at least 2 weeks to give your hair a break. I did the Marley Twists myself and loved them so much. I can't wait to do them again this Autumn/Winter.
Don't pick a date
Some people think you need to set a date for how long you will transition, but I say otherwise. I think setting a date just puts pressure on you. If you have chosen to transition and not big chop, it is probably because you are not ready for a Tiny Winny Afro (TWA), so just let your hair grow and you will know when you are ready to cut off the remaining ends. When you reach a length you are comfortable with, you will happily take the scissors and cut off all the relaxed hair that is holding you back from being natural.
Stimulate hair growth
You're probably going to be excited once you see some sort of curls, and you'll want your hair to grow faster. The faster you'll reach a length you are comfortable with, the sooner you will become natural, so help it out by doing hot oil treatments and massaging your scalp regularly. I would also suggest taking Omega 3 supplements, and you can try taking Biotin but be careful as it causes breakouts for some people.
Be patient and let your hair do it's thing
Lastly and most importantly, you need to be patient. If you stress constantly about your hair and measure your new growth every month, it's not going to grow any faster. So just do what you can to get it healthy and just enjoy the ride. Transitioning to natural hair is an interesting experience and you don't want to miss all of it because you were constantly too preoccupied and stressing.
Let me know if you are thinking of transitioning or are already in the process. What difficulties are you facing? And if you are already natural, please share your suggestions on how to transition smoothly.