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:
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.