One thing is clear: I have truly learned a lot about my hair while traveling the road to going natural. Truth is, there is a lot that we relaxed girls could stand to learn from our coiled, curly and kinky counterparts. Our hair needs attention, and lots of it.
Before I began to transition almost a year ago (I was four short months away from a whole year), I thought that transitioning would be a piece of cake. It seemed to me that the process would be easy, and I truly did not understand what all the ruckus was about. Boy, did I soon find out that I was in for a truly eye-opening experience!
It takes time. We want to think that we can accomplish everything overnight. That is not realistic, and here are some of the things that I learned while transitioning that taught me how to take better care of my relaxed hair. I learned that, regardless of the state in which you choose to wear your hair, you have to do these things:
1. Be consistent with your wash-day routine! It was frustrating having what felt like a whole day — and was not very short of it — to just wash my hair. I came to find out all those steps were extremely necessary. Now that I have gone back to relaxed hair, I still have to do a deep conditioner. I make sure to do a leave-in and seal with oil, etc. I do not have the kind of shedding and breakage that I once had before transitioning.
2. Oil is your friend, use it! I was intimidated by oil and felt that it weighed down my relaxed tresses. I came to find out I was just using it wrong. I thought the only place that oil had in my hair routine was as a hot-oil treatment. The truth is that oil should be a part of the washing and sealing process. I actually apply oil to my scalp as an alternative to heavy greases and it works better. I think that hair grease or oil is a personal preference. I chose what works best for me.
3. Wear a satin scarf or sleep on a satin pillowcase. Now there are those that have done this regardless, and I too did this before I ever transitioned. However, I never really realized how important it was. This helps with reducing breakage as well as helping your hair to retain moisture, which we all know your hair is robbed of while using cotton bedding.
4. Trimming is a necessary evil. I never liked trims, and it always felt to me as though I was doing nothing but losing length. So there were times when I needed a trim but I thought leaving fragile ends would protect the healthier hair. This was not true at all: I was doing more harm than good. By leaving split and damaged ends, I was making the rest of my hair vulnerable. While transitioning, I ensured that regular trims were done, and my hair grew faster than it did leaving damaged ends on.
5. Own it! Regardless of relaxed or curly, you have to love what you are working with. One thing that I have learned over the past year is the importance of loving my hair and taking care of it.
One thing is for sure, regardless of where your hair journey may take you, remember to embrace the process. Take care of your hair, and it will be gorgeous and healthy for years.