So you did the big chop or you are transitioning. It may have been a few months since you stopped relaxing your hair. Perhaps your hair is growing to an awkward stage where it’s no longer a cute TWA (teeny weenie afro), neither is it long enough for the big puffs and twist outs that frame your face. You are probably experiencing the perils of shrinkage and all of this will be new to you. When you think about it, the last time we saw our natural hair was when we were kids. So the fact is, having natural hair will be something that you have to get use to and the longer your hair gets, the more challenges you are likely to face.
At this stage when your hair is growing out it may be difficult to make it presentable at times, especially when you have very little time. When I was at the TWA stage I would simply spray my hair with my water and glycerine mix, it would curl up nicely and I would be ready to go. At most, I would put a little flower in my hair or a scarf around my head to jazz it up. I loved this stage! People would ask me if I texturized my hair because it had a distinct curl pattern and was very soft. This was the last thing I expected before I went natural. My last memory of my natural hair was trying to pull a comb through it and it being dry and coarse. However, as I soon came to discover, it was never my hair that was the problem, it was my lack of knowledge. My lack of knowledge in caring for my natural hair caused me to use products that were not designed for my hair type, comb my hair in the wrong way and left it without being adequately moisturized.
After going natural and facing the challenge of my new length, again it was my lack of knowledge that was the problem, not my hair. At every stage you will learn new things about caring for your hair, and it continues to be a learning process. If you are at this stage, do some research before considering going back to a relaxer. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some tips about overcoming this difficult stage. These helped me continue on my natural hair journey, I hope they will aldo help you:
1. Don’t forget about braids, wigs or weaves. If you are at that awkward stage and find that you don’t have the time to deal with your hair, just put it away for a few weeks. I found that a good wig helped me tremendously. This way I was able to cornrow my hair underneath and not have to deal with it. Also, this gives you the opportunity to change your style if you are stuck for ideas. Braids are great as well and still give you that natural hair look. For instance you can get kinky twists which look like you just put your natural hair into two strand twists. The important thing to remember with braids and weaves is to not get them done too tight and to remember that your real hair still needs to be moisturized. You can spray your roots with the product of your choice or simply with a water, oil or glycerine mixture. Also, if you are using a lace-front with glue avoid sticking the cap to your hairline or your edges will be harmed.
Be mindful of the effect such styles can have on your edges, a good hairstylist shouldn’t only be concerned about how good the style looks, they should also make it their priority to protect your real hair from damage. Remember that hair sheds between 50 and 100 strands a day, so when you you loosen your hair you will find an accumulation of shed hair. It is nothing to worry about if you have not been neglecting your real hair. Of course weaves and wigs are not for everyone. I will also include a section about protective styles using your own hair. These also give you a break from daily styling and manipulation.
Here is a vlogger that wears wigs and weaves regularly as a protective style. Check out her channel for ideas. Her rants are also very interesting!
2. Moisturize correctly.
Dry hair becomes weak and is extremely difficult to manage. It makes life a lot more difficult when you are dealing with dry brittle hair. So keep your hair well moisturized . I use to think that oil or Shea butter alone moisturized my hair, and I would wonder why it would feel dry even when using a great amount. Sometimes I would have so much oil in my hair it looked like Jheri curl! The fact is true moisture comes from water. Oil and Shea butter help to seal in the moisture, so that the water doesn’t just evaporate soon after. If you apply oil or Shea butter alone, you are simply coating your hair and weighing it down. So make sure your moisturizer is water based (aqua should be the first ingredient on the list) or you can simply spray your hair with water then follow it with an oil of your choice or Shea butter. I use coconut oil because it seals in moisture very well. I also use Shea butter, depending on how I feel. You could buy a leave in conditioner, these are usually water based, and then you can add oil to make sure the moisture is sealed in. I’m more of a juices and berries girl so I don’t use that many products. As long as I have Shea butter, coconut oil and water I’m fine.
I find a great time to moisturize my hair is when it is in twists. I allow them to become damp in the shower then I apply my coconut oil to seal the moisture in. I can wrap my hair (like I did when my hair was relaxed) and this usually stretches the twists to their original length or I just put them back in a bun.
I hope this has been helpful. Look out for some more helpful tips next week. What were the main challenges for you when you were transitioning or are you currently experiencing this. Share your stories here.