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Making the Decision to Transition to Natural Hair (Guest Blogger)

The decision to transition to natural hair is one that many prospective naturals face with a mixture of trepidation, anxiety, and confusion. With so many theories, opinions, and methods related to transitioning, it’s enough to send many would be naturals running for the hills! There is no particular “method” to transitioning. How or even why you start your journey is as unique as you are.

Each of the Platinum Product Junkies have their own story, yet all have reached the same destination--loving the hair that God gave them for what it is. To that end, we invited these ladies to share their natural hair journeys with the Loxa Beauty Community with the hope that we are able to encourage you to embrace your own transitioning process and journey. It doesn’t matter how or why it starts, the end is truly what matters!

Patinum Product Junkies Nefertiti

Nefertiti’s journey starts with her resenting the fact that perms never completely straightened her hair.

“Have you ever after a relaxer still had curly hair the minute humidity took hold? For many years I resented the inability to completely straighten my hair, until one day I began to enjoy the versatility of wearing my hair "natural" every now and then. Relaxers controlled the frizz factor, so it was almost like having the best of both worlds—that is until I got a really bad perm that not only took the curls I had away, but it was 1st time ever that my hair actually thinned out and broke. It was at that point I really began to question if the ritual of relaxing my hair made sense. I also thought about what I wanted to do with my hair. Was it about choosing curly vs. straight? Well, the truth was, it was happier curly, and no matter what I did, it didn't want to be a slave to ANYTHING-- including style, colors, trends, or chemicals. So, I decided to transition to natural hair. It was the easiest decision ever, until the actual transition. I made the mistake of transitioning from relaxed to natural using heat to keep my hair manageable because I was so obsessed with holding on to my long hair and was afraid to commit to the big chop.

After a four year process, the perm was gone. I still had my length, but my curls were damaged. With the amount of fractured curls and straight ends I had, the use of heat styling equaled the damage of relaxing my hair. Not only did I have to transition all over again, but I had to say goodbye to all the length I was trying to keep. It was holding me back from progressing in my journey, and learning how to properly take care of my hair. Had I taken the time to educate myself on good natural hair care practices, I probably would’ve saved myself from transitioning a second time. Taking advantage of all the natural hair resources available is a really vital part of the process. Self-directed learning, whether it is via books, guides, or forums always have value. If you have a friend whose already been through the transitioning process or a hair care expert willing to share some pearls, those are all resources you should take advantage of. Sadly, there are no short cuts in this process. What you realize is learning how to take care of your hair and what it likes are more important than anything else. In the end, you’ll meet your hair and the love affair will begin. Until then, enjoy the journey to natural, and best of luck!”

 

Patinum Product Junkies Shawny

Shawny’s journey was the complete opposite’s of Nefertiti’s, it was born out of self described laziness and boredom.

“There wasn’t anything that influenced me to transition because my journey to become natural was born out of laziness. One year in 2007 I decided to put a weave in. I kept that style in for about three months before I took it out. I noticed after removing the weave, that my ends looked scraggly so I trimmed them and a few days later put another weave in. As it would turn out, that would be my hair routine for the next eight months. I would continue to put my hair in a sew-in style and just trim it when it was time to remove the weave. After almost a full year of this routine , I realized I had cut just about all the relaxer out of my hair and was two snips from being completely natural. That was my transition! It was as if I stumbled into something amazing while looking for something completely different.

This way of transitioning worked out for me because I was able to focus on other things and not worry about my hair. In hindsight it was actually a perfect transitioning style for me because there was no issue of trying to blend the two textures that many transitioners face. I also, through protective styling avoided putting heat on my new growth and mostly importantly, learned patience in allowing my hair to thrive. I think the greatest thing to take away from my own journey is that transitioning will not be the same for everyone. Some will plan it and transition long term, while some will choose to immediately big chop the relaxed ends off and rock a teeny weeny afro! That’s the great thing about this transitioning to natural, no journey is the same. Just enjoy YOUR walk getting there!”

 

Patinum Product Junkies

Hillery’s journey started from a place of distress and morphed into something that has become the very essence of who she is.

“I really didn’t think about transitioning from relaxed to natural hair; it was a totally spur of the moment decision. In hindsight, I think it was my cry for help. It was the one thing that I felt like I had some control over when things were spiraling out of my control. Within a two month time span I had ended a long term serious relationship, was battling with my thesis advisor (who held my degree and future in her hands), was up night and day trying to finish said thesis, AND was packing and preparing to move 900 miles away to a city where I didn’t know a single soul for a job and a chance to chase my dream. That’s enough to make even the strongest among us break!

It was a total spur of the moment thing to sit on the floor between my sorority sister Kristy’s legs and let her take my hair off with kitchen shears…the day before I defended my thesis! I was scared and yet felt so free. I was terrified of what people would think, yet strangely comforted by the fact that I didn’t care. Walking onto campus and into that room to defend my thesis, I relished the gasp I heard from my thesis committee and even my friends and parents, all of whom had not seen my new do. I’d gone from bra strap length relaxed hair to a caser cut. In a way, it gave me a sense of power because I commanded that room and my presentation. The nods of approval, the looks of shock and dismay, even the “she’s really lost it” look from my mother Itt all fueled me that day.

After my thesis defense, my mother held a “come to Jesus” meeting with me where she expressed that she thought I’d had a nervous breakdown and promptly suggested I get braids or a weave before leaving to start my new job in DC in three days. I declined and I haven’t looked back since. Nine years later, I’m still natural because it is a part of my identity. It’s just who I am. It has served as a defining moment in my life and it’s the point where I feel like I finally came into my own. It’s accompanied me to every job interview, first date, special occasion, and defining moment of my adult life. I don’t really have a reason or some strong internal motivation for staying natural though. For me it’s just one of those things that just makes me—ME. Granted, I’ve had moments of frustration when trying to figure out products, a regimen, and how to handle my hair as it has grown, but for the most part, it has been a labor of love.”

 

Patinum Product Junkies Tracey, Hillery, and Nefertiti WNHS 2012

Tracey’s journey epitomizes the “Just Do It” mentality. Though she had a few road blocks along the way, after ten years as a natural, she’s got a few words of wisdom under her belt.

“When I decided to go natural, nobody else was a consideration. I wasn't looking at who was natural, didn't ask for opinions, nor did I think long and hard about it. I was ready to stop relaxing my hair so, that's exactly what I did. I've been natural for over ten years now, and even with all the trial and error, it was worth it. I’d do it all over again, no regrets...except I wish I'd done it much sooner. No journey is without its setbacks; like there was a time I was heat-styling in combination with a color process. It took my hair a LONG time to recover that dye job. I didn't want to cut off all my hair, so I had to treat it, and trim it gradually to get rid of the color and get my hair back to a healthy condition. I also had to scale back on the heat. Over time, I could see my hair responding to all the deep conditioning and protective styling techniques. My hair has rewarded my time and effort. Now, I cut it because I want to lose some length, not inches of damaged ends.

Going natural isn’t something to do just because everyone else is doing it. It's important to really determine why you're considering going natural, and be honest with yourself. Are you going to be able to stick it out, when your hair natural hair starts to grow out, and you have to manage two distinct textures? Be sure that you can handle the reality of your actual texture, whatever it is. Take some time to do your research-- read, and read again...and read some more. There are no shortcuts.”

 

Patinum Product Junkies

Last but not least, Kemberli’s journey involved wanting to live a healthier life, and chemical free hair was a natural extension of that desire.

“I went natural because at age 31, I became less interested in straight hair, more interested in getting healthier and being chemical free was part of that. I stopped relaxing my hair and since then, it’s been quite the journey learning and loving my hair. Other than wishing my hair was thick and stood up afro style, I love the hair I've been blessed with. It’s my “wavy, curly, floppy, non-fro”. Because of that, I intentionally keep my hair uneven since the sections "hang" differently. The left side which is tighter is the longest and it also shrinks up the most. The top is the shortest because it is barely wavy with little to no shrinkage. It sounds like a lot to keep track of, but I’m pretty “lazy” when it comes to my hair. In the beginning of my journey, I used to do wash and go’s everyday but it got to be too much for me as a woman with a fast-paced career. I mostly style at night, doing braid/twist outs or modified wash and go’s. My hair dries overnight, and I’m usually ready to go in the morning. This routine works well with my workout schedule and allows me to loosely clip my hair out of the way, lightly spritz my scalp with water and toss a head scarf on. Believe it or not, my roots don’t get nearly as puffy.

My current goal is to learn how to do more protective styles. For example, it anyone knows an easy way to French braid or cornrow, show a sista the way! Hair goals don’t have to be lofty: As I said before, I’m a “lazy” girl and weekly styler. I don't have length goals and the health of my hair has never been an issue. Experimenting with a few new styles and mastering them is just enough to keep me from getting bored—but stay in tune with my low maintenance routine.”

So, those are the stories of the Platinum Product Junkies. What’s your story?

Some journeys start by accident, some start with self assessments and conscious decisions, and yet while others start in turmoil. The most important thing to focus on, is not HOW or even where your journey started, but where it leads you. Each of their respective journeys has led them to a place where they wouldn’t change for the world! Enjoy your journey ladies!

Patinum Product Junkies Nefertiti, Shawny, and Hillery at WNHS 201

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About Platinum Product Junkies: We’re five self-professed product junkies, sharing our beauty finds, hair and skin care tips, product reviews and random musings – five very different women of color, with unique beauty needs and perspectives, in one place. Let us inspire you to be your best beautiful self.

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MORE: Transitioning to Natural Hair, Platinum Product Junkies, naturalista, natural hair, guest blogger, guest blog