Belle Afrique: Back To Basics
Made the choice? Making the choice? Or just currently inspired by the choice? Wherever you stand in relation to the beautiful transition to natural hair, Belle would love to help you on your journey. We will be featuring regularly here, on Brimah and John, starting today with TRANSITIONING.
Before you start the transition, you may have some concerns about managing your natural hair; managing the transition; understanding new terminology; dealing with people’s perceptions; and generally accepting your newest beautiful self. I would say that it would be good to provide yourself with positive affirmations to acknowledge that this is the right choice for you, your hair, your health, your self love, and your peace.
“Return to natural”
“I love my kinks”
“Natural hair is beautiful”
“Girls with kinks still get winks”
This is a big step. Know why you are doing it, and why it is right for you. For example, have chemical processes caused your hair to thin? To shed? Or damaged your growth cycle? Has not protecting your hair during heat straightening frayed your ends and caused breakage?
Making the conscious decision to stop chemically processing your hair. Accepting your naturally beautiful self, every curl, every kink, everything.
During the transition period, the aim is to grow out the relaxer, or other chemical treatment, until you are comfortable with cutting all the processed ends off. Transitioning enables you to retain the length of your hair, however, it can sometimes be a frustrating wait for growth, as well as having to deal with two different hair textures; your new kinky, curly growth and the straighter, processed ends.
Options: Go for the BC (big chop) and cut off all the processed ends of your hair and strut your funky stuff with a tailored low cut or bob hair style. This is a bold move and not necessarily for the faint hearted. If you do not want to take this step, I would suggest a regular trim, perhaps every 6 weeks, to remove the relaxed ends and encourage new growth.
Top tips for transitioners
- Regular treatments - with steam to open the cuticle and enable the treatment to penetrate the hair stands. This helps reduce breakage and strengthens the hair. Home treats include mash half an avocado with olive oil and leave to sit on your hair for 20 mins, then shampoo and condition hair.
- Wide tooth comb - thin toothed combs will snag on your lovely new coils. Use a wide tooth comb, or better yet your fingers to gently rake through your strands.
- Low or no heat - this is the time to strengthen your hair, so reduce the amount of heat that you apply in terms of straightening and blow drying. Getting to long and luscious locs will be a quicker process if you can focus on rebuilding your hair.
- Products - a few simple products, 1 shampoo, 1 moisturising conditioner, a protein treatment, and commitment to moisturise. Don’t think that you need an army of products on your shelf to deal with your new tresses. Also, healthy hair starts from within, I don’t promote ‘hair vitamins’, rather I would encourage a healthy and wholesome diet. -
- Stick to a simple routine. See our suggested one below. Routine is the Mother!
- Patience is the best bet! Hair growth and a head full of kinky coils is not an overnight process. Be patient to understand the needs of your new hair texture. Increase moisture for curly and coily roots and apply moderate protective moisture for your straighter ends.
- Handle with care - your hair can be more prone to breakage during transition, especially at the line of demarcation, which is where the new growth meets the processed ends.
- Low manipulation styling - protect your hair from fuss which encourages breakage. Twist or braid your hair and gather the ends together in a loose bun. Leave styles in for up to three weeks and then leave your hair to breathe for a week or so.
Routine is the Mother and moisture is the Father!
Water is the best and only real moisturiser that your hair is asking for. You can also use a leave in conditioner that has water listed as one of the first ingredients. The best way to apply water is to spritz your hair lightly with a mist of water in the morning and evening.
Washing your hair also provides it with the moisture it needs.
After you have added moisture (water), you need to lock that moisture in. Sealants contain oil and/or butters and are best applied whilst your hair is still slightly wet/damp. Locking in moisture helps keep your hair stretched and moisturised. Love soft hair? Then get your L.O.C or L.C.O game correct!
Oils that penetrate the hair shaft
Avocado oil is rich in fatty acids and proteins and penetrates the hair shaft. Locs in moisture longer.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) - a great moisturiser that leaves hair soft and manageable.
Almond oil - light oil that seals in moisture, and soothes an irritated scalp.
Coconut oil - a great pre wash treatment, seals hair and prevents breakage.
I hope this has been a simple introduction to transitioning, and look out for our next post, which will be about protective styling for natural hair.
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We look forward to hearing from you.