You've decided to make that move toward natural hair. You're not going the quick, drastic route with a big chop, but are planning a transition, possibly long-term. Along the way, you're sure to learn some things not only about your hair but yourself as well. These common mistakes can befall anybody. For a smooth transition to natural hair, try and avoid these pitfalls. You'll cut down on frustration and learn to accept your tresses just the way they are.
1. EXPECTING A CERTAIN TEXTURE When it comes to texture, everyone is an individual. It's not uncommon to see varying degrees of curl among family members, so don't get hung up on how curly, kinky or wavy your new growth is. If you really intend to be natural, you'll have to accept your unique texture. Embrace it and love it because it's all yours. One of the surest ways to hating your hair is by expecting it to be something it's not.
2. ALWAYS HIDING YOUR HAIR While playing around with extensions and wigs gets many women through the roughest days of transitioning, these additions shouldn't act as replacements for your hair all the time. What's the point of growing out your locks only to keep them hidden all day, every day? As with anything, use weaves in moderation. If you have no idea on how to style your differently textured head, use extensions in the meantime, but eventually, you should be able to come up with hairdos that work for you.
3. USING THE SAME PRODUCTS The hair products you apply to relaxed hair aren't cut out to make the most of natural locks. This is especially true if your current products are too heavy on oils or greases. Natural hair loves water, so choosing more water-based products is the way to go during a transition. It takes trial-and-error to find the right products to use, and yes, it can get pricey. Try getting recommendations from naturals you know, particularly if their texture looks similar to yours.
4. CHOOSING STRAIGHTING OVER CURLING Sometimes, women aren't comfortable enough with their own tresses. It can feel awkward going around with hair that looks completely different from what you've sported for years. Transitioning is often about more than hair; it's also about your mindset. If you only feel good with straight hair, maybe it's not yet time for you to be natural. Otherwise, try more styles that incorporate your relaxed ends into your new curls, instead of the other way around.
5. NOT MOISTURIZING ENOUGH The point where your relaxed hair and new growth meet is vulnerable. This area, the line of demarcation, is where breakage is most likely to occur, especially if you don't moisturize enough. This includes daily moisture as well as regular and deep conditioning. Your natural hair may feel drier to the touch. As you become more familiar with your own texture, you'll recognize what's normal for your hair and when it's actually dry.
6. CHOOSING THE WRONG STYLES Few things lead to frustration more quickly than not being able to find a hairstyle you like. You try one and it doesn't work, so you start from scratch. Then hairdo number two looks funny, so you have to begin again! Finally, when you're down to the wire, you end up pulling your hair back and sticking pins everywhere because it's not long enough for a ponytail. To avoid this, choose styles that are designed to work with transitioning hair. In general, these hairdos either blend your textures seamlessly or hide straightened ends out of sight.
7. NEVER GETTING YOUR HAIR TRIMMED You're doing all the right things when it comes to your hair. Heat is kept to a minimum, you cleanse and condition regularly, and you experiment with transition-friendly styles. However, you never, ever trim. Eventually, you'll have several inches of new growth weighed down with lifeless, relaxed strands that look as if they belong on someone else's head. These old ends will affect how great the rest of your style looks. Trim a little at a time if it's less painful for you, but natural hair is exactly that: no straightening chemicals allowed.
8. BEING IMPATIENT One of the biggest surprises many transitioners discover is how long it can take to style their natural hair. Get into the habit of patience. Rushing through basic care can lead to breakage. It's a good idea to plan your styles in advance so that last-minute rush jobs don't happen. When you do find yourself with only minutes to spare, have a quick hairstyle in mind, whether it's a ponytail, twist or even a hat!
Remember: these tips are designed to nurture your naturally curly hair, because in the end, THAT is what you'll be keeping.
Good luck and congrats on going natural! We're here to help!