Monday, June 20, 2011

Transitioning Facts

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about going natural.

 How long should I transition?
That really depends on you. You can cut to the chase, do a Big Chop and wear a teeny weenie afro. Or you can grow your hair out so that you will have a little more to work with and take six months or a year or more trimming a inch off every month. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

What are some good transitioning styles?

Styles that cater to your natural hair while taking into consideration the fact that you still have perm are always a good choice. Styles that fall into that category would be: wet sets (roller sets, rod sets, straw sets); braids, twists and cornrows; braid-outs, twist-outs, and cornrow-outs; Bantu knots.

Is it a good idea to press out my new growth? What about transitioning with extension braids? 

If your ultimate goal is to be able to wear/style your hair naturally then relying pressing is out of the question. You are really working against your hair and you are missing the opportunity to get acquainted with your hair in its natural state. Pressing your hair can also subtly and not so subtly change the characteristics of your hair by breaking the natural bonds. No amount of washing will bring it back.

Braids with extensions can be helpful in the process if done correctly (not too tight) and redone frequently with trims. However you don’t want to become dependent on braids either. Although wearing your hair in braid will not change your hair’s natural characteristics you still don’t get the opportunity to work with your hair in its natural state. You have to start learning about your hair sometime. What better time is there than during the transition period?

Should I go to a professional to get my hair done?
It really depends on you. If you really want to learn how to take care of your hair yourself then no one will ever know your hair better than you. But if you don’t know anything about doing your hair or work in a profession where you hair needs to have a certain look consistently then you may want to get some help while you are learning.

That help could be your co-worker, friend, or church member who happens to have natural hair that looks nice. Ask them what they do and if they would be willing to show you.

If you do decide to get your hair professionally done, try to find a natural stylist (different than a braider) who is willing to educate you on how to take care of your hair at home. Try to pay attention to what she or the other stylists are doing. Take mental notes.

Going to a salon is a great treat but it is best that it is a treat and not a necessity.

Help! My hair is falling out!

Stay calm :) most likely your are just experiencing some shedding. Some people experience a lot others barely have very little shedding at all. Remember to be careful with your hair. The point where the natural and the chemically processed hair meets is very fragile. Those chemical ends will have to go some time but you probably want it to go on your terms.

Split ends tangle easier that well managed ends so you may want to get a trim. Also if you are loosing a lot of hair when you try to comb your hair out, try finger combing, using combs with wide teeth or detangling/combing in the shower.

The less you handle your hair during this time the less prone it will be to breakage and shedding.

How often should I trim my hair while I am transitioning?
An inch a month seems to be the norm. If you will be trimming your ends yourself make sure that you invest in a good pair of hair trimming scissors. Remember to only use your hair scissors to trim your hair. Cutting other things will dull them.

Why is my scalp itching?

There are many reason that you scalp could be itching. It could be reacting to the products that you are using. It could be dry. It could be just getting use to your new hair routine.

What products should I be using on my hair?

This is a hard question to answer because everyone’s hair is different. What works for me may not work for you. But I can give you some guidelines of things to look for and things to avoid. Look for products that moisturize, have proteins, and humectants (products that draw moisture from the air.) Avoid products that contain perfumes, dyes, petroleum, sulfates, mineral oils, and list of ingredients that look like the come from a chemist’s lab. After that it will be trial and error seeing what works best with your hair.

What should I look for in a good moisturizer?
Water at the top of the list is a good sign. Some good natural moisturizers are aloe vera gel and shea butter.

How often should I wash my hair?

Natural hair loves water, so you can wash it as much as you like as long as you are not using regular shampoos (those with sulfates). Co-Washing will get your hair clean and leave it soft and easy to detangle (very important when you are working with two different hair types.)

What is a co-wash or no-poo?
This is using conditioner or something other than of shampoo to wash your hair. Shampoos have harsh chemicals that can be drying and damaging to your hair. You can find more information about going shampoo free here.

Are there any safe shampoos?

Yes there are several sulfate free shampoos and shampoos that are better than what you usually find in the store.
What is ACV and what does it do? 
ACV stands for apple cider vinegar. You can make a rinse with it by mixing 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water you would pour this over you hair as your final rinse. The rinse is mildly acidic so it helps balances you scalps pH. It closes the cuticle scales on your hairs surface which helps your hair to feel softer and makes light reflect off your hairs surface giving your hair a natural shine. It also can help to remove products that build up on the hairs shaft which can make hair look dull.

What is scab hair?
Scab hair is a term that refers to the hair that is just below the scalp that has been damaged because of the relaxers/perms. This type of hair may be drier and harder to style. It is not your actual hair but the remnants of the relaxing process. You may or may not experience this condition. It all depends on how often and how long you relaxed your hair before you decided to go natural.



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