6 Things You Should Know Before Transitioning

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Often, women will transition and run into some problems they didn’t expect and aren’t sure how to handle. As a result, sometimes they decide to relax again. This is just a list of those common and unexpected issues and practices with tips to help prepare the transitioner for what may come.

Be prepared to switch shampoos

Sulfates can cause damage to the cuticle layer and strip hair of natural oils, sebum. Given that kinky hair has trouble carrying sebum from the scalp to the ends of hair, natural hair needs all the moisture it can get. So what am I supposed to wash my hair with? Use a non-sulfate shampoo, such as the Shea Moisture line, Terresentials, Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, or other brand of non-sulfate shampoo. It is best to search and try out these shampoos now so you will be prepared as your kinky hair grows and your relaxed ends are trimmed away. It should also be noted that products containing non water-soluble silicones should be avoided. Silicones coat the hair with a thin film and if the silicone isn’t water-soluble, it can build up and block moisture from the hair unless washed away using sulfate shampoo.

Blending the two textures

Lots of transitioners decide to straighten their roots to blend their new growth in with their relaxed hair. While this is ok as long as a heat protectant is used and heat is applied in moderation, it is a more forgiving and easier process to make the relaxed hair mimic the natural hair by utilizing braids, twists, and bantu knots. Styling your hair with braid-outs, twist-outs, etc instead of straightening your new growth also has the added benefit of allowing you to learn how to handle your natural hair as it grows.

You don’t have to style your hair everyday

Believe me, I know the feeling. You’re excited about starting this journey and you want to make sure your hair isn’t looking crazy in the process. That’s great, but you may feel the need to set your hair (in braids, twists, bantu knots, etc) every night. It’s just not necessary. True, relaxed hair doesn’t hold such setting methods as easily as natural hair, but there are ways to preserve your ‘do without having to manipulate your hair everyday. Try using a little gel, such as Eco Styler when you set your hair. Set your hair when it is damp so it dries quicker and you won’t run the risk of it still being wet when you need to take it down. Gather your twist-/braid-/bantu knot-out into a high loose ponytail toward the front of your head to preserve loose styles or style your hair in a protective style or other updo that you can leave in for several days.

Breakage

Transitioning means you will have to cope with two entirely different textures that must be cared for in completely different ways. Given that the chemically relaxed hair has been stripped of proteins layers in order to remain permanently straight, the point of demarcation, where the kinky hair meets the relaxed, is a weak spot in the shaft because of the uneven cuticle coverage and protein imbalance. Expect there to be some mild breakage and handle both textures with care to reduce damage.

Everyone’s Hair is Different

It is exciting to start a natural hair journey, but it is important to come into it with an open mind and an open heart. While you may have some YouTube gurus whose curl patterns and textures you admire, understand that your hair may not turn out like theirs and you shouldn’t feel disappointed if it doesn’t. Learn to love your hair without comparing it to other naturalistas’ hair. You can, of course, still learn from those with completely different curl patterns and textures, but it is imperative that you accept those differences and love your hair the way it grows out of your scalp. That’s what this journey is all about.

Product Junkie-ism

Just because a product worked for Sally doesn’t mean it will work Sam. Once again, everyone’s hair is different (different curl patterns, different textures, different porosity levels, different levels of breakage, etc etc) even if two heads of hair might look the same. The beginning of the journey is the best time to get out all of your product junkie-ism because you will be testing numerous products, largely based on recommendations from others, to find what works for your hair. You may buy a lot of products in this time frame and it is justified. Try to stay within your budget; there’s no need to spend an arm and a leg for products. For expensive products you may want to try, check the ingredients and try to find a cheaper alternative containing those same or similar ingredients. When you do find products that work for you, stick to them. Pay attention to their key ingredients so you know what to look for should you decide to try something new. This will give you a pretty good idea of whether the product will work for you.

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