mane objective hair transitioning photos

Are you tired of relaxing, chasing your kinks away with a flat iron, or just ready for a change? Congratulations, you're on your way to joining #TeamNatural!

The Big Decision

But before you take the plunge, you need to decide--are you going to big chop or transition? If you're eager for change ASAP, or your hair is severely damaged, you're likely to opt for the big chop. But if you're like I was, and are not ready to part with your length, transitioning is most certainly an option.

Before I go any further, let's clarify the two terms:

Big Chop

Cutting off all straightened, damaged, or relaxed hair into a short fade or TWA (teeny weeny afro). The big chop allows ladies to begin their natural hair journey from the ground floor, caring for and styling only the natural hair that grows from the scalp.

Transition(ing)

Gradually growing out straightened, damaged, or relaxed hair. Transitioners make the conscious decision to stop the practices that got their hair into the position that it's currently in. Transitioners coddle along both natural and damaged tresses, growing out the hair until they are ready to cut the ends off.

One method is not superior to another, it ultimately is a matter of circumstance and preference. I transitioned because I was uncomfortable with the idea of growing out big chopped hair. There are plenty of resources available to support big choppers (here is a great place to start), but today I'd like to chat with all the ladies considering a transition.

Once you've made up your mind that you're going to transition, there are 4 things that you're going to need to do in order to make it a successful one. This is not to say that you won't make mistakes or get frustrated, but rather that those hiccups won't derail your journey to healthy hair.

mane objective natural hair

1. Backwards Plan

I'm sure you're no stranger to the saying, "Begin with the end in mind." That is the first thing you will absolutely need to do as a transitioner. How long will you transition? What goal length would you like to achieve before you chop your ends? When I first embarked on my natural hair journey, I gave myself 3 months to test the waters. I wanted to see how much my hair would change without heat in this amount of time. The results were so moving, that I tacked on another 3 months, and then another 3. By the 9th month, I had planted a firm decision in my mind that I would transition for 2 years. Yes, 24 months.

But I didn't make it, and that was okay.

By month 21, I was at my wits end with my transitioning tresses. I had more natural hair than heat damaged, and I just wanted to be done with them already. I booked a consultation and appointment at Devachan Culver City, and haven't looked back since. Beginning with the end in mind helped me get as close to my goal as I could. My goal was to have thicker hair that was long enough for me to feel comfortable rocking naturally (with shrinkage factored in), and by 21 months I was practically there. Knowing what I wanted helped me be more diligent about caring for my transitioning hair, and greatly improved my patience in dealing with more frustrating times.

2. Adjust Your Expectations

You won't wake up 6 months from now with hair like your hair crush or favorite Instagrammer. I used to have a practically covetous relationship with Hey Fran Hey's hair, and I realized that it was doing me more harm than good. The more I loved and longed for her hair, the more I ended up hating my own. It wasn't until I began to adjust my expectations for my own hair that it began to flourish.

No, my hair isn't going to grow 3 inches in a month.

And it most certainly will not be a fuzzy, curly, shiny, halo of ringlets after a year of transitioning. Or at all. Your hair is uniquely your own, and the best thing you can do is spend time getting to intimately know each kink, coil, curl, and wave throughout the transitioning process. Knowing your hair will help you develop more realistic expectations for your tresses.

3. Flex Your Info Filter

Another popular phrase, "all money ain't good money" most certainly applies here as well. All information isn't good information -- not for you at least.

This is not to discredit the wealth of information that exists online, but rather to encourage you to activate your own filter. Everything you read, and every YouTube video you watch won't directly translate into something beneficial for you.

A certain blogger may swear by a particular holy grail deep conditioner, but that doesn't mean it will automatically become a HG product for you too. Don't feel compelled to run out and slather Monistat on your scalp, or soak your hair in a paste made of garlic and onions just because you read about it online. Approach your transitioning journey with the same level of discernment you do in everyday life.

4. Get Some Sticktoitiveness (and lots of pictures)

You will get irritated.

Styling will become hard.

You will feel defeated.

You will cut off some hair (probably more than you wanted) out of sheer frustration.

All of this is normal. 

For all of its frustration, many wonder why transitioners even bother coddling along damaged ends. The truth is, the level of commitment varies by individual, but for those who choose to stick it out, the payoff is great. I blow myself away sometimes with comparison pictures:

natural hair transitioning collage

My hair would not be what it is today without the discipline and sticktoitiveness that kept me on my journey. My primary source of motivation was pictures -- of my own hair. Seeing my hair's progress with my own eyes got me back on track whenever I had fallen off. Seeing my improved hair thickness, and noticing curls and waves were there were bone straight pieces gave me hope, and inspired me to keep going. You'll need something to hold on to and inspire you when your hair journey runs you low. Why not keep a photo journal (Instagram is a great way to go), so you can see your hair at each stage?