Things to Consider When Transitioning
by Ebony Clark-Bomani
Transitioning from a relaxer can be quite challenging, especially when you've had a relaxer for a lot of or most of your life. However, don't fret. Although, it may or may not be possible for you to transition seamlessly, it is still very achievable. It all depends on you. Here are a few things to consider when transitioning:
Will your lifestyle allow the time and dedication it takes to make the commitment? Going from relaxed to natural can be time consuming in regards to your hair care routine. The line of demarcation, where the two textures meet, is highly fragile and if not cared for properly, your hair can snap off right there. If you won't have the time, consider cutting off your relaxer and rock a low cut "caesar" or mini 'fro. They're SUPER easy to maintain, very attractive, and will give you the opportunity to learn about your true texture early on.
2. Hair Care Routine
How will your hair care routine (regimen) differ from when you were getting relaxers faithfully? Which products will you use and how often will you style your hair? Developing the best practices now, will put you on the road to having the most successful natural journey. Design a regimen that you can mimic once your relaxer is completely gone. I started shampooing my hair less often (formerly twice per week), deep conditioning every two weeks, and adding water-based moisturizers to my repertoire. With relaxers, water-based moisturizers were the devil for me.
3. When WILL My Relaxer Be Completely Gone?
That depends on you. Remember that hair grows, on average, about 1/4" to 1/2" per month. That'll give you about 3" to 6" of new growth per year. I transitioned the first time for about three months and I was comfortable with the amount of new growth I had---which wasn't very much---and I cut off my relaxed ends. I only had about an inch and a half of hair left on my head. Fast forward to transition number two. That one lasted for about a year and I accumulated about 6" worth of new growth. BUT, over that entire year, I was trimming my ends very frequently to get rid of the straight ends as much as possible. Many people ask, "How long will it take for my hair to grow out?" Your relaxer will be completely gone whenever YOU'RE ready.
4. How Will You Wear Your Hair?
When your true texture is drastically different from your relaxed hair, like mine, the more challenging it can be to transition. I find that people with looser textures don't have AS tough of a time transitioning from relaxed to natural because there isn't an extreme difference in the textures. It's easier to blend the two textures with certain styles. Those of us with tighter curls, coils, and kinks can find styles that blend ours, too. Personally, I chose kinky twists, rod sets, flat twists, and bantu knots. I found that those styles helped to blend my textures and prepared me for always opting for low-manipulation hair styles.
5. Enjoy the journey. Gather all the information you can, watch as many youtube videos your eyes can handle and discard SOME of that information. Try your best not to be consumed by hair type and learn about your hair's characteristics. Is it wavy, curly, coily, kinky, or a mixture? See, it's all about what's best for you and your precious head of hair. Learn, have fun, and get ready to blossom into a more fun, fearless, more authentic version of yourself. ;-)
Are you currently transitioning? We'd like to know how you're doing on your journey! Have you already transitioned? Do you have any advice for those that currently are?