If you are thinking about taking the step into the glorious world of natural hairdom but not quite ready for the big chop then transitioning is something you may consider. I have been natural for a little over 5 years. Though I big chopped 5 years ago, I have transitioned three times in the past before my BC, each time the result was from a chemically treated process that went horribly wrong. With each transitioning experience I learned what worked and why. Now I want to share my tips and hopefully my successes will be your own.
11 Tips for a Successful Transition
Just say no to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: If not stated, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is found in almost every shampoo and household cleaning product you can think of…YES, in most cases the exact same sulfate used in harsh household cleaning products to clean your garage, floors and toilets can be found in your shampoo. The reason why so many manufacturers flock towards sodium lauryl sulfate is because it is EXTREMELY CHEAP! Sulfate is basically a detergent and detergents can be extremely harsh to our delicate hair strands, stripping away our natural sebum (oils) cause dryness that can be extremely dangerous for processed hair.
Consider a Pre-Poo or use of Conditioner for Washing: All shampoos, sulfate-free or not strip the hair in some form of its natural oils. Conditioner instead of shampoo for transitioning strands may be your best bet in assuring minimal breakage, but if you are dead set on using a shampoo try to stick with sulfate-free shampoos and to further up the ante on protection from the ingredients in shampoos try a pre-poo before your washing sessions. Pre-pooing increases strength to your strands during washing. Simply section hair and saturate each section with your favorite oils, butters or conditioner. Then place a plastic bag or cap on your hair for 20 minutes prior to washing. For maximum effect the pre-poo can be left on for a longer extent of time or overnight.
Protective Styling: This type of style is really the go to remedy in decreasing daily manipulation, but warning since you are dealing with the demarcation line which is the area of your natural texture and the chemically processed meet, braids and twists should never be too taunt or tight. This can increase your chances in breakage due to the chemical processing that breaks down protein bonds in naturally textured hair. Your strands elasticity and strength are based from the condition of your protein bonds. Chemical processes penetrate the hair shaft and reach the cortex, depleting protein bonds causing breakage.
Low Manipulation: Less manipulation means less chances you can cause breakage to already fragile strands. As mentioned before try protective styling which can be braids, twists, buns or updo styles, basically anything that can help with refraining from daily manipulation. If you love wearing your hair out try finding styles that may last for 3-5 days such as a braidout or twistout, again anything that will not have you twisting, braiding or pulling on a daily basis.
Silk/Satin Pillowcase or Scarf: Natural or not sleeping on a satin pillowcase or rockin a silk scarf to bed helps retain moisture and causes less friction which is a must for minimal breakage.
Little to No Heat: We all know heat despite the health of the hair extracts the sebum from your strands causing dryness. Any extreme altercation such as straightening of
your natural texture, whether it may be from heat or a chemical causes you to lose elasticity! Losing elasticity means the strand has no room or leave way to stand up against manipulation that involves pulling and due to less or lack of elasticity the strand can break more easily.
Finger Detangling: The curlier the hair the more fragile because at every curling point along the strand is a potential point of breakage now by adding water to your strands this can quickly create tension (especially the chemically processed portion of the strand) once you hair has absorbed the water. Tension naturally occurs with wet hair, pulling the strand from the weight of the water. Now all your potential points of breakage are even more fragile due to tension from water weight. Depending on porosity, individual strand density and texture, dry detangling works differently for everyone
Seal Hair: Like sealing your ends, sealing your hair in its entirety is just as important as well. The ends of your hair are the oldest simply from wear and tear of sticking around the longest, therefore more fragile, yet this fragile state applies to chemically altered strands as well. Chemically altered strands have suffered damage due to the breakdown of protein bonds, so you are holding on to damage strands but if just for length sake and you are opting on snipping the processed hair slowly over time, then sealing your hair can up the chances in preventing less breakage.
Limit or eliminate Mineral oil usage: Unlike some natural oils that can actually penetrate the hair shaft while others including natural butters that can dissolve, mineral oil does just the opposite and coats or sits on the strand preventing moisture from entering or allowing our natural sebum to coat the strands. Now some say mineral oil is the ultimate sealant and I once had the same regards but you have to remember an oil that does not dissolve or penetrate means a helluva of a lot more buildup, leading to smothered strands and smothering will
cause more shedding.
Section Hair when you Wash: Washing your hair in sections decreases the risk of unnecessary tangling. By handling your hair in sections while you wash, leads to easier management and control when dealing with transitioning hair. As I just mentioned, water creates a weaker state for strands so by gently working each section from root to tip in a stroking and squeezing manner will produce a beneficial outcome rather than washing your hair section free in every direction all willy nilly, for all willy nilly will produce willy nilly results, and leave you frustrated with a head full of tangles and breakage.
TLC: Nothing beats some tender lovin care for your strands. Patience is a weapon that is accessible to everyone. Hair is fragile due to the extreme difference in texture at the demarcation line. Implementing TLC into your routine can make transitioning a less frustrating state to be.*Remember what works for others may not work for you. We provide the facts and advice but you always have the freedom to tweak regimens and make it a more perfect fit for you.