Transition Update: 9 Month Reflection

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 I can't believe it's been 9 months. I had to go back into the annals of my blog and make sure I wasn't crazy. Time flies when you're going natural! Okay, maybe it doesn't -- but that's how I happen to be feeling this week. When I first re-established the blog and set out on my reduced-heat natural hair regimen, I didn't know what was going to happen. But many moons, and oodles of youtube videos, books, magazines, and articles later, I'm excited.

Last night, as I detangled and prepped my hair for cowashing (later to end up in satin strips for a braidout....hello!), I noticed something.....

I am at the halfway point in my transition.

Whoa. Even though I'm only halfway there, I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment! When many folks go natural, it seems like forever journey -- full of setbacks, reversions to old habits, breakage, chops, braids, and more. Not that I didn't have my fair share of frustrations, I just believed it was my approach that got me to this point in under a year. To distract myself from wanting to just cut the rest off (haha), I'm going to share some of my top transitioning tips:

Tip #1: Get Healthy.
I've explored it time, and time, and time again. There is an infallible connection between the state of your health and the state of your hair. Although I'm not the poster child for fitness, I can definitely say that taking strides to eat cleaner (I'm human...not a super turbo vegan), work out regularly, drink more water, and take my vitamins/supplements has turned my health, body, and hair around. My hair is stronger, grows well (I won't say faster), and is thicker than I ever remember it being. For more info on how a healthier body leads to healthier hair, click here.

Tip #2: Don't Be Afraid to Throw Stuff Away.
I know this seems counter-intuitive to my recession-proof mantra, but it is a necessity for the new transitioner. The reality is, some products you used to use on your hair caused damage, dryness, breakage, thinning, and brought you to the point of transitioning. If you are going to go natural, chances are you need to chuck some of your old products. Obviously, if you're transitioning from a relaxer, say goodbye to your boxes with Meagan Good on the front. Heat damage transitioners -- don't throw out your expensive irons, blow dryers, and combs...just put them away (for now). When it comes to products, your stash will likely need an overhaul. Relaxed and heat trained (er...damaged) hair has different needs than natural hair. Ditch the expensive serums (that are silicone based anyway...not pure oils) and oil sheens for jars and bottles of pure oils. For the best bargains on pure and unrefined oils for hair, click here.

Tip #3: Rethink Your Regimen
When I first began transitioning, I gave up heat for 3 months. I loved the results (new thick curly hair) so much, that I made the 3 month mark a regular thing. What I discovered is that when it came to the flat iron, I had it all wrong. Click here for my post on how to have a healthy relationship with heat and avoid re-damaging your hair. On top of heat styling, transitioners should consider adopting a holistically protective regimen (I use that term loosely) that minimizes breakage, damage, weathering, and split ends. I am not saying to completely overhaul your life and wear your hair under a beanie for 12 months, but reconsider your use of shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioners, moisturizers, scarves, and more. For me, shampoo is used no more than once a month, and sometimes even less frequently...and the product must be free of ALL sulfates (and any derivative thereof).  I make up the in-beween time with cowashing. Deep conditioning is a regular (weekly) occurrence that helps strengthen and retain moisture in my hair. I finger detangle or use a wide-tooth comb and a super slippery product on damp hair. I am to protectively style my hair during the week, and let it all hang out on the weekends. I sleep on a satin pillowcase every night, even if I have a satin scarf or bonnet on. Surely, these things take time, but not as much as you think. The largest deterrent for most folks in going natural is "not having time". Which leads me to my next point...

Tip #4: Yes, You Do Have Time for That (Even When You Don't).
Time is probably one of the most off-putting things about going natural. Many folks feel like Sweet Brown in that regard. And if you genuinely work 20 hours a day, 7 days a week, then my condolences to you and you are exempt from this tip. The rest of us with normal jobs (mommies included), can and do have the time it takes to be natural. I used to think that I didn't have the time to detangle for hours on end, cowash all the darn time, and protectively style my hair. But it turns out, I did. Case and point: when it came time to flat iron my hair, it was a process that took me 4-5 hours in totality -- from wash to wrap. Going natural takes less time than that per week -- with the added luxury of splitting everything up over the course of several days instead of one marathon session in the mirror or your hairdresser's chair. If you find yourself spending a an hour or so per night reading, watching TV or working out, incorporate those times into your haircare regimen. I often detangle while watching my favorite TV shows, and the time FLIES by. I henna overnight, so I don't have to walk around all day with a beanie on (I tried it once, and I definitely looked like a crackhead). Deep condition while working out, allowing your body's heat to create a greenhouse moisturizing effect on your hair. Cowash while showering. See? You do have the time.

Tip #5: Get Over Your Fears
This one is fairly short and sweet. Get over your fears of breakage. It may not be popular to say right now, but you are going to have some. Transitioning hair is weak at the line of demarcation and 100% breakage free hair is impossible in this stage. Get over your fear of scissors. The whole point of a transition is to gradually trim away the damaged hair. If you take an inch off every two or three months, that's not a big deal! Lastly, get over your fear of texture. Just because you go natural, doesn't mean you will end up with bouncing smooth ringlets and spirals. The texture that sprouts from your scalp is the one God blessed you with, and it is beautiful. I don't care if it is curly, kinky, coily, wavy, or cotton ball -- it is healthy, natural hair and will flourish if you treat it right.

Tip #6: Don't Worry About the Next Natural
This is the BIGGEST tip of all. I wasted SOOOO much time looking at YouTube videos and blogs, coveting curls all over and praying my hair would be as shiny as Shelli's, with Hey Fran Hey's crazy volume, and Naptural85's density. Eventually, I reached a point where I had to distinguish what I was looking for from them. Tips, advice, product reviews, DIY recipes, and more were all wonderful -- and I continue to look to these ladies (and more) on a regular basis. Envying their curls, and wanting their hair was more counter-productive and self-destructive than anything else. I had to embrace what I was given, and work with it. Now that I'm halfway there, I can see where my texture is going, and I am rather excited about it.

For more information on things transitioners should steer clear of, click here.
For more information on things transitioners may have to do differently than full naturals, click here.
For my product recommendations thus far for transitioners, click here.