The process of going natural can be frustrating at times since figuring out which path is right for you can be a challenge. As with any other tough decision, if you go into it with knowledge and patience you will have a MUCH easier experience.
Get your mind right!
First you have to mentally prepare yourself to go natural. Think of why you want to go natural. Was it for health reasons? Curiosity? Were you inspired by someone else's natural hair journey? Do you want to embrace your natural beauty? Are you tired of damaged and unhealthy relaxed hair? If any of these are true then you are on the right track. However, some people go natural for the wrong reasons. Are you going natural because you LOVE ___(Insert celebrity/family member/friend's name here)___ and want your hair to be JUST like theirs? Are you going natural because you see a lot of other ladies doing it? Are you going natural because someone told you to? If any of those apply to you, I suggest that you rethink going natural.... No offense.
Simply put, there are two ways to go natural: do a "big chop" (which is when you cut off all of your relaxed hair and start from scratch) OR slowly "transition" from relaxed to natural hair (grow out your relaxer until you are ready to eventually do a big chop).
Big Chop - As mentioned before, your big chop will have to be done eventually. If you decide to go natural without transitioning that is the fastest way to get natural hair. I will list some pros and cons to getting rid of your processed hair in the beginning of your hair journey.
- You won't have to deal with two different textures. You will not have to do any blending for your two textures, you will not have to find styles that work for both your relaxed hair and natural hair, and you will not have to worry about what products will work for both of your textures.
- Short hair is low maintenance. Styling short natural hair or a TWA (Teenie Weenie Afro) is often easy and does not take up much time.
- Cutting all of your hair off can be extremely scary, but liberating at the same time. Short hair brings out your naturally beautiful features.
- Your natural hair will be healthy from the start, rather than someone who transitions and opts to use heat on their hair.
- You may not be happy with how you look with short hair. It does take some getting used to.
- Fewer styling options, you can accessorize but can't really style your hair until it fully grows out.
- The in-between phase!!! The inbetween phase is when your natural hair is too long to style in less than 10 minutes but too short to do anything else with while it grows out.
- Negative reactions from people whom you love. Family members, coworkers, friends, and lovers may not understand why you decided to big chop and may not support you. Honestly you went natural for YOU so your opinion is the only one that matters!
- Regret. For a while you my regret chopping it all off and may start to second guess going natural. If this happens then remind yourself that going natural is a process, and that this is just the beginning phase of your journey.
Transition - Transitioning is the process of growing out hair that is texturized, processed, relaxed, heat damaged, or chemically processed hair. You can either cut off the processed ends gradually or big chop, cut them off all at once.
- You will have some time to get used to taking care of your hair and styling it.
- You can wear many of the same styles that naturals wear: curly weaves, braids, kinky twists, bantu knot outs, straw sets, all give you the look of natural hair before you take the big plunge and big chop.
- You can slowly trim your hair until all of the relaxed hair is gone.
- You can transition for as long as you want. Some "long term transitioners" transition for two years or more!
- PATIENCE! It will take patience and time.
- You will have to handle two different hair textures, which can become bothersome because your relaxed hair may break off without the proper care.
- Dealing with weather/humidity can cause the appearance of your two textures to vary, i.e. puffy new growth with straight ends
- HEAT DAMAGE!!!!!!!!! I can not stress this enough. Some people try to straighten their natural hair in order to blend it with their relaxed hair. After a while all of that heat will damage all of your natural hair and can cause you to lose your curl pattern
As with any drastic change, people will not understand why you decide to decide to go natural. Just remember, whatever way you decide to grow your natural hair that it is YOUR decision and nobody elses. Stay tuned for some more tips for transitioners =)
I transitioned for 7 months and recorded my big chop!
And here was my reaction video: