Long Term Transitioning Tips + My 4c Natural Texture

Long Term Transitioning Tips + My 4c Natural Texture

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Everybody has a different reason for “going natural.”  I’ve always been envious of the volume naturalistas are able to achieve with their styles, especially twist outs – but that wasn’t enough reason for me to transition.  For some reason once my hair grew beyond 12″  inches long, my ends would thin and a very necessary cut would follow.  I got tired of the cat-and-mouse game I was playing chasing my final length goal.  So although I am long term transitioning, none of the most popular reasons for doing so apply to me:

  • I was already quite aware of my natural texture, not having relaxed until high school then inadvertently transitioning at 18.
  • I don’t feel an inherent need for self-discovery because I had no familiarity with my natural hair.
  • I don’t have a daughter I feel a need to be an example for.
  • I don’t believe relaxers to be unhealthy.

Therefore I haven’t taken a lot of texture or new growth photos or had any excitement at seeing my natural hair grow.  For me, its still the same hair journey – trying to achieve and maintain healthy hair while growing to my length goals.  So for those who’ve been curious about seeing my hair and my 4c natural texture, I’m sorry I haven’t shared much in the past year.  I already KNEW I didn’t have a distinct curl pattern and that I would be hiding it using protective styles to complete my transition. But for those who are curious about my transition, here are a few photos of my damp hair:

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When my hair is completely dry, it shrivels up to less than an inch of “length” but stretched it is about 4″ long.  Black hair grows an average of 4″ per year so while some areas of my hair (in the crown) are a bit longer, my hair is right at the average mostly.  Now that I do have a good amount of new growth and I’ve had to balance it with maintaining my relaxed length, I feel comfortable giving a few long term transitioning tips based on MY experience:

There is NOTHING wrong with hiding your hair through the majority of your transition.
Some people will make you believe you are taking the “easy way out” or being lazy if you transition using wigs, weaves, braids and twists.  Man, whatever!  Doing my hair loose each and every week is not for me.  I have felt little frustration and have reached one year relatively easily because I only deal with my hair every 6-8 weeks between protective styles.

Find products that work for both textures.
I’ve seen videos and blog posts where ladies are applying one product to their natural roots and another to their relaxed length because they haven’t found anything that works for both.  That is a lot of work, more costly, and less effective than using products that work for both textures.  Products that are natural ingredient based (like my staple moisturizers Bee Mine Luscious Balanced Cream Moisturizer and Jane Carter Moisture Mist) are more likely to work for both textures.

Use your fingers only!
This is a tip I should’ve been doing even before transitioning, but after about six months it became an absolute necessity.  I use my fingers to part, to section, to style, to detangle, to distribute product – EVERYTHING!  Combs just cause my hair to snap, crackle and pop!  If you want to transition long term then breakage is the last thing you want to cause, right?

Don’t be scared to trim.
Even though you may want to hold onto your length come hell or high water, eventually your relaxed hair must be cut away to become fully natural.  Don’t make the transition process more difficult by holding onto dead, split or thin ends – trim aggressively because healthy ends causes less tangles which makes transitioning much much easier!

Breakage? Don’t Panic!
I’m not the transitioning hair queen.  I have relaxed hair that is fully processed (not texlaxed) and type 4c natural hair…a drastic texture difference.  Therefore I have plenty of breakage.  And it is disheartening!  However, eventually all of my relaxed hair will be cut off anyway so if you see a bit of breakage, as long as it is at the line of demarcation or longer than you know your natural hair is growing in strong and healthy.  Don’t panic….it is extremely difficult to have zero breakage when you long term transition.

These tips apply to relaxed ladies too, after all transitioning and doing a relaxer stretch is one in the same in many ways.

Happy Hair Growing!

  • From Mrs. to Mom

    I find that when I only use my fingers to style I don’t get good results. Unless its a really curly style then I wouldn’t darn use a comb. Anyway- I’m glad you posted the “unreasons” for transitioning. I really feel like naturals tend to berate relaxed women for not following suit just because of “their” reasons.

  • Harlem

    Great tips, I have just started finger detangling due to some breakage and I have to say I wish I tried it a long time ago

  • YESSS!
    Great tips, girl!
    And I definitely wore Senegalese twists for half of my transition and I DID NOT feel bad about that. My transition was super easy, and I would’ve kept going had I not grown impatient.
    How much longer do you have to go?

  • That’s what I did…… paniced at 7 months after seeing breakage and did the big chop lol!

  • Lisa

    Great you have found something that works for you.

    How does it work with wigs? I ve been natural many times in My life. All though I am 3b I would say that my natural hair is very compact. Having a har in the winter is a struggle, warm and thick even braided. How do you handle the amount of natural hair under wigs.?

  • S.O.S Hair

    Man, that snap crackle pop line is the TRUTH! Which is why all of my combs are MIA. Finger detangling is where it’s at honey! Although I’m not officially transitioning (although I feel like I’m getting closer to the fork in the road) I’m totally in love with protein layering. I apply a medium protein like Joico K-Pak from the line of demaraction to my ends and a moisturizing conditioner to the roots. Maybe it’s just in my head but I really feel like it’s helping to minimize breakage.

    Thanks a mil for sharing your tips chica!

    http://www.savingourstrands.com

  • Great tips! Finger combing is so underestimated but it’s SO freaking helpful! My life changed when I started using my fingers more than my hands lol.

  • You are doing well at your transition. Wishing you continued success.

  • I love these tips. Finger detangling is a must, especially when washing the hair. Happy weekend hun!

  • Shey

    Thank you so much for the DOWN TO EARTH way of giving advice! I have transitioned now 3 times in the last 8 years! I told myself I would stick to it this round! I needed that confirmation that there is nothing wrong with wearing wigs, braids, etc to protect my hair and allow it to grow. How do you lock in moisture with a sew in for 6 weeks is the struggle I am currently facing. My hair is not brittle dry when I take it down, however 6 weeks is excessive to not apply oil to the scalp. any tips?