Lately I have been getting a lot of questions regarding my transition, so I thought I would compile a list of my top tips for transitioning from the fire cream (aka relaxer) to becoming happy and nappy.
- Be patient and don't get discouraged! I can't stress this enough. There were many days when I wanted to just slap a relaxer in my hair and there are times when I didn't think I would be able make it the point where I am today. People will tell you you are crazy and that you just need to put a relaxer in your hair. But if you are really serious about going natural, don't let anyone discourage you. Natural is beautiful!
- Maintain the moisture and protein balance in your hair. Different conditioners are protein or moisture based. I found that as my relaxer grew out and I had more natural hair exposed, protein conditioners didn't really benefit me. But when I had a relaxer, I found that I needed to use protein conditioners more often. Check out a great post from one of my favorite blogs, Healthy Texutres.
- Be gentle. As your hair grows out you will have a demarcation line - the point at which your relaxed hair meets your natural hair. It is imperative that you keep this particular area of your hair in good condition and moisturized. If not, you will experience a lot of breakage and damage. With that said, no matter how gentle I was with my hair, my hair still snapped at the democration line. Some people say that you are able to transition experiencing little or no breakage, but I don't know if I really agree with that.
- Avoid heat as much as possible. I know it's tempting to constantly try to keep your roots straight by using heat. I was a slave to my flat iron for months. But excessive heat can sometimes change your natural curl pattern. If you are tempted by the sight of your flat iron, curling iron or blow dryer, get them out of the house or wear hairstyles where you won't be tempted to use heat (i.e braids, weave, straw sets).
- Do the BC sooner rather than later. I did the big chop after about 8 months (in March 2008) with no relaxers and I wish I would have done it sooner. I would have saved myself time in maintaining two different textures, my hair would have grown faster and my curl pattern would have developed faster. I know it's scary to cut all of your hair off, but trust me, you will be happier after you just go ahead and do it. Buy some wigs, wear braids, get a weave - just cut it! I cut mine myself but if you don't feel comfortable, go to a salon. I eventually went to a salon to have my hair straightened for a nice trim in July 2008.
- Water and vitamins are you friend. Be sure to get plenty of water and vitamins in your diet on a daily basis. Not only will your hair benefit from this, so will your overall health. In terms of vitamins, I take a multivitamin formulated for women and a Biotin supplement. Not only is my hair growing like a weed, I don't get many skin breakouts and my nails are strong and long!
- Trial and error. As you can see from my many blog entries, I have tried many products. Everyones' hair is different therefore different products work for different people. Unless you are a very lucky person, chances are you will have to experience a lot of trial and error to see what your hair likes. Your natural hair might not like the products you used to use on your relaxed hair.
- Do your research. There are soooooo many forums, blogs and websites focused on black natural hair care. The questions you have have more than likely been asked by someone else. So do your research and read the plethora of information available to you. More importantly, talk to people you know who are natural and get a hair coach. I have several! :)
- Be happy and nappy! All of your hard work will pay off and you will be happier because of it!