I remember sitting on a chair on a Sunday evening, my mother was blow drying my hair and I was tired due to the heat, but also hurt, because I was not showing the real me. For twelve years I had been sacrificing at least a day in the week to have straight hair. However, at the age of 15 years I started to develop the desire to go natural. That Sunday when I was 18 years old I got the confidence to say no to relaxers. Everything seemed so easy. I would have curly hair within a year and then I would be able to enjoy every single day to the fullest. Little did I know that I was underestimating the transitioning process. Now that I'm natural, these are the 5 things I wish I knew before I transitioned.
1. Transitioning requires a change of mindset
Before starting the transitioning process, I was not aware of my lack of self-love and self-acceptance at the time. My mother had been relaxing my hair since I was 6 years old. I was raised with the belief that straight hair was more beautiful than my curly hair. Within the Latin community, my hair was described as ‘pelo malo’ (bad hair) or ‘pelo duro’ (harsh hair). Even though, I wanted to transition, I was having major conflicting thoughts and desires, which was no surprise as I was raised with a certain belief and was entering a lifestyle that conflicts with this belief. As the transitioning process proceeded I got to know that the beliefs I was raised with were not always in line with reality.
2. Your environment will not always be supportive
I expected that I would receive some support. I did receive support from a handful of friends but unfortunately, not everyone was as supportive as I wished. I was continuously advised to use a relaxer. Others recommended me to stick my hair in a bun and some told me to accept that I do not have beautiful curls. Luckily, some friends were able to give me great haircare advice. Looking back I really think that if my determination was not as strong as it was, I would probably give up and go for the relaxer again.
3. Invest more in protective styling
I did not do a big chop, instead I decided to let the relaxer grow out my hair. Looking back to the transitioning process, I think that protective hairstyling would have been a great solution. I would have had fewer bad hair days and I would have had more fun during the transitioning process. I would probably be focusing less on the negative aspects and enjoy my fashionable hairdos.
4. Not every hair product is worth the investment
I often bought products because of the promises communicated on their packaging. However, most brands have a great marketing department who know what customers want to hear. After buying the products I often felt disappointmented. I also underestimated the strength of relaxers, I should have known that once hair is relaxed it loses its texture. Instead, I should have focused on deep-conditioning and moisturizing my hair. Now I know that purchasing products that moisturize your strands and deep conditioners are the types of products that are worth the investment.
5. Eventually, a semi-big chop is neccessary
After two years of transitioning, I cut the remaining relaxed strands and finished the transitioning process. At the beginning of my natural hair journey I did not do a big chop because I did not think I could rock short hair the way others do. It does not suit me. After, the big chop my curls reached my chin (when not stretched). Finally I did not have to face the frustrations of having straight ends. I postponed cutting my hair because I did not want to lose my length. However, cutting these ends led to the beginning of the second phase of my natural hair journey: getting to know my hair.
The transitioning process is a long journey filled with hurdles, moments of self-acceptance and moments in which you will acquire new knowledge. It is a beautiful, valuable journey, which you should enjoy while keeping in mind what hurdles you may face.
Are you currently transitioning? What are your biggest struggles? What has helped you most during your tranisition? Let us know in the comments.