Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Transitioning to natural - Ending a chapter and beginning anew

I have decided to end my relaxed hair journey and move on to the next step. I am starting my natural hair journey. I did not want to transition. I big chopped just like that one day.
Here are the most important things I have learned from my relaxed hair journey:

    · Moisturizing regularly – I used to moisturize daily in the beginning and it was needed because I had to learn the tricks and things my hair likes to stay moisturized longer. In the end, I could moisturize as needed and my hair still felt soft and good all the time.
    · Sealing the moisture – I moisturize and sealed daily at first but I realized with experience that the most important moment to seal in your moisture is on wash day.  If you do that properly, your hair will stay soft for days.
    · Deep conditioning – This is something someone on a hair journey should be doing weekly, twice weekly in the winter because of how much the season dries out the hair and scalp. I would recommend a heavier conditioner in the winter than in the summer and adding thicker oils in the winter too. Look at how your body reacts to the season to adjust your regiment. The winter is very hard on my lips and my skin in general. Therefore I know I have to step it up in the winter for my hair as well.
    · Stretching your relaxer - For the ladies who still believe you have to get a relaxer every 5 weeks, this is wrong.  Even for coarse, dry, unmanageable hair, a relaxer can easily be stretched to 12 weeks. Of course, you have to work your way to that.  Don’t go from 5 to 12 weeks directly. The hair journey is about learning about your hair and also self-discovery. For every relaxer day, add a week until you reach the most unmanageable length of new growth for you. Give it time… It can take you two years to get to 12 or 14 weeks. Some people regularly stretch 20 weeks.  Imagine getting a relaxer only twice a year!  It is possible. The only way to get there is to keep your hair (mainly the new growth) soft by moisturizing, sealing and deep conditioning.
    · Learning when to trim – Indeed, trimming is very important, but not as important as your hairdresser will have you believe. I say trim every 4 to 6 months or every other relaxer if you stretch 12 weeks. Trimming too often cuts the growth which translates in little to no progress even with all the efforts put in. Introduce the term “dusting” to your hairdresser. Dusting is cutting very little hair, less than 1 inch from the length. Sometimes that’s all you need. Most people on a hair journey should not emphasize on having a super straight hemline. I say get a nice trim (regular hairdresser style trim) at the beginning of your hair journey and light trims or dusts throughout (once or twice a year). The only reason to trim more than this is if you see a lot of breakage and shedding. Your hair will be then thin at the ends. But mainly that means revising your regimen.  You have to find out the reason of the hair loss be it breakage or shedding.
    · Practicing patience – A very important thing to learn on a hair journey is the practice of patience. The reason to start a hair journey is to improve the overall state of your hair. Maybe you want it longer, maybe thicker; maybe you want to stop breakage or shedding. Whatever the reason is to start, the change will not happen overnight. If you had to cut your hair to ear length when you started your journey. It will not be down your back in six months. However, it will certainly be longer.  Appreciate the journey, it will teach you many things about yourself and your body.

My hair journey was full of ups and downs. It did not go the way I anticipated. Nevertheless, I did my 5 years and followed through even after considering giving up many times. It was well worth the effort.

As much as I am happy to start my natural hair journey, I must say that natural hair is not the only way to go! You can have healthy hair if relaxed. It’s like saying if you are natural, you cannot color your hair. Not true. Your hair can be chemically processed and if you take care of it properly still be healthy. Deciding to relax or color your hair doesn’t take anything thing away from your personal integrity.
Chemical processes are hard on the hair and scalp, but if you chose to do it and do it safely, it is just as valid as anything you do to your body. Like haircuts, shaving, waxing, laser, braces, plastic surgery, and more.  I would even add wearing weaves to that list because of the stress put on the scalp and the potential traction alopecia. No one is completly natural... Natural or relaxed, the most important thing to focus on is health.
I don’t know what the next step will bring.  I know I’ve said many times that I’m too lazy to be natural. I do feel it’s more work than relaxed or texlaxed hair.  And I cannot style hair (braids or twists).  This explains why I did not transition. I needed to start at the TWA stage. Not only was I looking forward to changing my look after all these years of not doing anything major to it, but I will be able to learn how to take care of my hair as it grows.
I am not sure how long I’ll be natural. Maybe forever, maybe for two years, maybe five.  Most of my friends have fallen in love with their natural hair. This did not happen to me last time I tried it. But, this time is different. There is so much support out there.
It’s a natural hair journey so I plan on growing it out as long as it will grow and document the journey to self-discovery.
As always, I will share my ups and down on this journey as well.

***Due to excessive shedding from hormonal fluctuations (PCOS) my hair went from this to that in less then 6 months. I've experienced that quite a few times on my journey but in spite of that it grew. Be encouraged! ❤️

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