Despite all the buzz to the contrary on natural black haircare, transitioning from relaxed to natural hair does not have to be traumatizing. If you have worn your hair permed or relaxed for many years, look at the transitioning stage as a formal re-introduction to the natural hair your momma gave you!
Every woman who decides to go natural carries a unique blueprint that is her natural tresses. No two heads are alike. Embrace the fact that what you have is beautiful, not to mention a head turner.
Do You Know Your Curl Pattern?
Every person is born with a hair type that is all their own. Stylist Andre Walker, created a system for classifying specific hair types or patterns.
Curly/kinky is Type 4A, 4B or 4C. Type 4 can resemble small spirals the diameter of a crochet needle, or be tightly coiled. Curly/kinky is at the greatest risk for breakage because of the curl pattern and needs consistent moisture.
Curly is Type 3A, 3B or 3C and can range from loose ringlets to slightly more tightly defined, spiral curls the size of a pen.
Type 2 is wavy hair, with variations ranging from 2A to 2B to 2C – with 2C being the most wavy within the 2 category of wavy hair.
Straight hair is classified as Type 1. Straight is the strongest of all hair types and is generally harder to hold a curl.
Many of us may have various curl patterns on our head! The crown could be 3b while the nape of the neck is 4a for example. There are a growing number of people who don’t subscribe to Andre Walker’s curl pattern classification because they feel that it is too restricting, or that it perpetuates the stereotype of the “good hair”, “bad hair” mentality.
We think that it is a useful tool to help us to understand our hair better. The system was not meant to reinforce old school negative connotations.
Transition Style Plan: Before The “The Big Chop”
Some women are tempted to cut all their relaxed hair off when deciding to go natural. Others cut as much of the permed or relaxed portion of their hair off as possible and work on nurturing their new growth – or the new hair that grew in after the perm. It is best to plan the big chop only after you have an idea of how you want to look and what you will look like with short hair.
You know yourself better than anyone and can envision what you will look like with a shorter style than you may be used to wearing. You can also talk with a stylist to get a second opinion based on the shape of your face. Remember, you can always enhance your short style with plenty of hair accessories – medium- to large-sized earrings, headbands, and colorful scarves. Your hair will grow healthy, beautiful, and stronger than ever.
Transition Style Plan: Without “The Big Chop”
Not everyone feels comfortable with cutting their hair off in order to transition completely over to a natural hairstyle. A slower crawl towards natural hair can be accomplished with twists, braids, flat twists or other styles that allows you to keep your hair length during the transition process. If you choose to keep your relaxed hair while your natural hair is growing out, be sure to trim the ends and deep condition regularly as the line of demarcation between the natural and relaxed hair is weak and prone to breakage.
One huge mistake that many women make while taking care of their natural hair is overloading it with lots of grease or oils. You may feel that this is the best way to keep your hair from being dry and frizzy. This is only partially true. Our natural hair needs lots of natural moisture – lightweight, lightly applied oils – to lock in that moisture to our hair and scalp. The best are natural moisturizers that get absorbed into our hair instead of laying on top of our hair like hair grease. Hair grease with petroleum and mineral oils prevent moisture from absorbing into the hair shaft. Some better alternatives include:
• Coconut oil
• Shea butter
• Jojoba oil
Avoid products with mineral oil, silicone, or petroleum which just sit on top of the hair. Remember that you need moisture that penetrates the hair shaft which will keep your hair properly moisturized. This not only protects your hair from breakage, but helps to bring out your natural curl pattern.
Always Protect Your Hair When Sleeping
Sleeping provides a special challenge to natural hair if you do not prepare and protect it. You want to avoid matting, tangling and breakage as much as possible. Sleep on satin pillowcases or use a satin cap. You can also twist or braid your hair in big sections before sleeping.
The transition over to natural black hair care is easier than you think and well worth the effort for healthy, head turning natural hair.
Dianne Shaddock is the co-founder of Natural Hair Care News, a website which highlights the latest in kinky, curly, wavy hair care from the movers and shakers in the natural hair care industry from around the web – all in one place!