Hey there lovelies
For some of you it may be an initial welcome to my blog and my content (heyyyy) and for others it may be a welcome back (how you doin’??). Either way, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my post(s).
Today I’ll be sharing things I wish I knew/ learnt when I was transitioning. I transitioned back in 2013/2014. Transitioning can be defined as letting go of unhealthy hair care practices and allowing your hair to return to its natural state. These unhealthy hair care practices consist of chemically straightening your hair, using excessive heat or using excessive or permanent colour dye on your hair.
Everyone’s definition of being natural is different.
Some believe it is the complete absence of chemicals on your hair while other naturalista’s still indulge in adding some poppin’ blond highlights to their curls. What’s important is that you define what being natural means to you, as long as you love those hairs growing out of your head.
So let’s jump right in:
Hair porosity is a thing. Curl type? Not so much
Your hair’s porosity is its ability to absorb and maintain moisture. There’s a number of ways to test your porosity but if you’re too lazy (or water conscious) to go grab a glass of water just to stick a strand of hair in it, you can try this quiz by Shea Moisture called Porosity 411. The cool thing about the web page is that not only does it explain the porosity concepts better than I ever could, you get your quiz results immediately and you can shop for low/high porosity from this web page. If Shea Moisture products are not within your budget, you can always have a peak at the ingredients used and see if you can spot a dupe in one of our local stores (if you do, please share the knowledge). However, if you have the time and the water, you can try the tests and helpful tips on https://www.naturallycurly.com/texture-typing/hair-porosity .
Curl type is really cool don’t get me wrong, whenever I see a human with hair that looks anything like mine I fan-girl so hard it’s actually a little embarrassing. We can often share similar experiences about products, but because often we have more than one hair type on our heads it makes each head pretty unique. In my humble opinion (brought to you by Uncle Google and hours of binge watching hair YouTube videos) knowing your porosity is just a little more helpful when it comes to choosing hair products that will keep your hair at its happiest and healthiest. You can still consult people with your hair type for advice, it’s likely to be in the right direction at least. If you can figure out your hair type(s) that is, NaturallyCurly provides some useful information about curly, kinky and coily hair typing and texture typing too where they provide information about other factors like the width, length or density of your hair.
I’m still trying to figure out which products work for me, even with the abundance of information available to me and all the years of product trying. In my experience it’s trial and error and very likely the products your hair likes will change as your hair progresses from a damaged, thirsty state to its healthy natural state and then continue to change following any hormonal/ dietary/ seasonal changes you encounter in your life.
My favourite brands/ products to use on my fine, awkwardly-reaching-shoulder-length, medium porosity, medium density, type 4A hair are:
- Femmes Des Karite- Shea Hair Formula
- Anything from the Afrobotanics brand, my favourite product is the the Enhanced Moisture Hair Juice from the Black Pearl by Pearl Thusi range
- The Design Essentials Almond and Avocado Moisturising and Detangling shampoo and conditioner
- Garnier Ultimate Blends Avocado oil and Shea butter shampoo, conditioner and oil moisturiser ( feel free to boycott this option if you are participating in the L’Oreal Group boycott, this opinion was obtained before the incident)
- The Perfect Hair Curl range: deep-deep conditioner and styler product
Protective styles are not always protective
When you are transitioning you are juggling two vastly different textures of hair on your head. These different textures have different needs. You may find your ends are always dry and stringy and your roots fuzzy and unable to last a few hours without frizzing into oblivion. Alas, you may find yourself tempted to put it all away in some braids or Senegalese twists and as tempting as this is, putting your hair in a protective style is not a chance to take a break from moisturising your tresses. In fact it is during any protective style that maintaining moisture becomes even more important- did I mention water is your best friend? While your hair is free from daily manipulation, it is a great chance to retain some length and smash your hair goals.
I found that during my transitioning phase braid outs (plaiting of the hair in separate sections without the addition of synthetic hair ) were by best friend, as it married the two textures and I got to walk around with cute-ish curls. I didn’t have the styling products or ranges available now, only some random Dr Miracles product that smelt like my grandmothers medicine cabinet that didn’t hold my styles very well so imagine how great the marriage between your various textures could be? At that point the word “curl” on a bottle was so exciting now we have entire aisles, we have come a long way in a short time in the South African natural hair community.
Big chopping is not as daunting as it may seem
The big chop: the removal of all the damaged/ chemically altered hair from your head. It may seem like a colossal step to take, you lose a lot of length but in doing so you gain a lot of strength. Literally in the sense that your tresses that may remain after your transitioning period, no matter how short it may be, are just waiting to be released from the weight of the damaged ends and bounce back all healthy, strong and what-not. Figuratively, cutting off your damaged ends can act as ceremonial farewell to parts of your life that were weighing you down leaving you all emotionally healthy, strong and what-not. And if the big chop really terrifies you, your big chop does not have to look like anyone else’s. Feel free to do a series of mini-manageable-chops, your journey is your own therefore the pace is your own.
Lastly, some transitioning truths to keep in mind:
- Keep your hair goals realistic- your hair may not end up growing out like your hair crushes
- Be patient- hair grows at a steady rate, there isn’t really anything you can do to make hair grow faster. You can only practice healthy hair practices to ensure that you retain length.
- There is no magic formula for curls- the only way to rid yourself of the straight, stringy ends is to cut them off
Love and trust the process, transitioning is an intimate process of getting to know a part of yourself that’s always been there but seems so new. You will learn about your hair’s temperament when you treat it wrong and your own temperament when you treat it well and it won’t cooperate. Your hair will grow and hopefully so will you, even if it it seems to take fro-ever to do so.
Remember to keep loving yourself, one strand at a time