You've decided to make that move toward natural hair. You're not going the quick, drastic route with a big chop, but are planning a transition, possibly long-term. Along the way, you're sure to learn some things not only about your hair but yourself as well. These common mistakes can befall anybody. For a smooth transition to natural hair, try and avoid these pitfalls. You'll cut down on frustration and learn to accept your tresses just the way they are.
Using the Same Products You Used To
As your new growth gets longer, you may find your old products aren't doing the job anymore. That's because in many cases, the hair products you apply to relaxed hair aren't cut out to make the most of natural locks. This is particularly true if your current products are too heavy on oils or greases. Natural hair loves water, so choosing more water-based products is the way to go during a transition. It takes trial-and-error to find the right products to use, and yes, it can get pricey. Try getting recommendations from naturals you know, particularly if their texture looks similar to yours. You can also try a service like curlBOX, which sends a variety of sample-size products straight to you for a monthly fee.
Some women are happy with whatever new texture they see, while others are disappointed because their new growth looks nothing like their hair did in second grade, before they got their first relaxer. It's tempting to fall into the trap of not being satisfied with anything other than cute spirals, ones that are a certain size and that never frizz, instead of your own texture. But everyone is an individual. It's not uncommon to see varying degrees of curl among family members, so don't get hung up on how curly, kinky or wavy your new growth is. If you really intend to be natural, you'll have to accept your unique texture. Embrace it and love it because it's all yours. One of the surest ways to hating your hair is by expecting it to be something it's not.
Something similar to being disappointed with your new growth's texture is mistaking scab hair for your actual hair. After years of chemically processing your locks and then stopping, you may experience growth that's extremely coarse and dry. This isn't necessarily what your real hair is like! In some more extreme cases, it takes months for the chemicals to work their way out of your scalp, and it affects your new growth as "scab hair." Don't worry, because it's only temporary. In the meantime, be sure and deep condition about once per week to soften your tresses as much as possible.
Not Moisturizing Enough
The point where your relaxed hair and new growth meet is very vulnerable. This area, the line of demarcation, is where breakage is most likely to occur, especially if you don't moisturize enough. This includes daily moisture as well as regular and deep conditioning. As you become more familiar with your own texture, you'll recognize what's normal for your hair and when it's actually dry. Your natural hair may feel drier to the touch. Because it's very difficult to over-condition black hair, err on the side of caution and apply moisturizers frequently. This can vary from daily to several times per week. Natural oils and water are great, but there are a huge variety of commercial products designed for black hair as well.
Few things lead to frustration more quickly than not being able to find a hairstyle you like. You try one and it doesn't work, so you start from scratch. Then 'do number two looks funny, so you have to begin again! Finally, when you're down to the wire, you end up pulling your hair back and sticking pins everywhere because it's not long enough for a ponytail. What's a fed-up transitioner to do? To avoid this, choose styles that are designed to work for transitioning hair. In general, these hairdos either blend your textures seamlessly or hide straightened ends out of sight.
You're doing all the right things when it comes to your hair. Heat is kept to a minimum, you cleanse and condition regularly, and you experiment with transition-friendly styles. However, you never, ever trim. Eventually, you'll have several inches of new growth weighed down with lifeless, relaxed strands that look as if they belong on someone else's head. These old ends will affect how great the rest of your style looks. It's hard for your Afro to be bouncy when it's pulled down by straight ends. Even long-term transitioners get to a point where they absolutely have to cut. Trim a little at a time if it's less painful for you, but natural hair is exactly that: no straightening chemicals allowed.
Surprisingly, some women feel that wearing texturizers comes with the territory of natural hair. This is not at all true. Texturizers contain chemicals, often the same ones found in relaxers. The only difference is that the texturizing process is generally shorter than the relaxed one. Don't be fooled into thinking that a texturizer will ease you into a natural mane. All it does is set you back to the beginning.
If your eventual goal is to be natural, constant heat styling to straighten your hair is counterproductive. After all, you eventually want to sport your natural curls, right? Then why not start now? Sometimes, women aren't comfortable enough with their own tresses. It can feel awkward going around with hair that looks completely different from what you've sported for years. Transitioning is often about more than hair; it's also about your mindset. If you only feel good with straight hair, maybe it's not yet time for you to be natural. Otherwise, try more styles that incorporate your relaxed ends into your new curls instead of the other way around.
Hiding Hair 24/7/365
While playing around with extensions and wigs gets many women through the roughest days of transitioning, these additions shouldn't act as replacements for your hair all the time. What's the point of growing out your locks only to keep them hidden all day, every day? As with anything, use weaves in moderation. If you have no idea on how to style your differently textured head, use extensions in the meantime, but eventually, you should be able to come up with hairdos that work for you. Extensions pull on your natural hair, and can cause some serious damage if you wear them too much for too long.
One of the biggest surprises many transitioners discover is how long it can take to style their natural hair. Detangling has a whole new meaning when you're dealing with natural locks versus relaxed hair. Get into the habit of being patient. Rushing through basic care can lead to breakage. It's a good idea to plan your styles in advance so that last-minute rush jobs don't happen. When you do find yourself with only minutes to spare, have a quick hairstyle in mind, whether it's a ponytail, twist or even a hat!