How to go natural? Is going natural hard? Can anybody go natural? Unfortunately, there are few how-tos that give step by step directions on how to go natural and the reason many think going natural is hard because it is the direct opposite of being relaxed.
5 MUST-HAVES TO BE A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITIONER
Relaxed hair is no easier but we have been relaxed for years so we know all about it. Going natural is something new and that can be quite scary. Yes, many of us were natural as little girls but we weren’t caring for our own hair and there were few products that actually nurtured our curls, coils and kinks. Times have changed and there is support and a ton of products out here now.
So, how do you go natural? Here’s a quick how-to that will ease your mind as you take the amazing leap and care for your natural tresses.
CHOOSING AN APPROACH – THE BIG CHOP OR TRANSITIONING
Once you’ve made the choice to go natural, you have two options to choose from – The Big Chop or Transitioning.
THE BIG CHOP
The Big Chop is a term that is used in the natural hair community to describe the act of cutting off all chemically processed hair. After The Big Chop most women are left with a short Afro, or TWA (teeny, weeny Afro).
If you’re eager to go natural, then this method is for you. With The Big Chop, you’re immediately natural. You don’t have to wait for your natural hair to grow out or have trouble styling two completely different hair textures. Even though you are only dealing with one texture it does not mean your path will be easier necessarily. It just means you will be dealing only with one texture.
Transitioning is the term used to describe the act of allowing natural hair to grow out over time. With this method, chemically treated hair is left intact and trimmed off gradually as your hair grows. Many women prefer to transition for a while before doing The Big Chop. This gives them a chance to play around with their natural hair texture before making The Big Chop commitment.
Those of you who don’t feel comfortable rocking a short Afro may also find transitioning a better approach to going natural. Transitioning doesn’t come without setbacks. Women who transition to natural using this approach often experience split ends, knots and breakage.
STEER CLEAR OF HEAT!
When going natural your hair may be delicate going from relaxed to natural and as you remove dangerous chemicals from your routine, adding heat can only cause more harm than good. Direct heat (flat irons, curling irons, straightening combs, blow dryers -without diffusers) dry out and damage curly, coily and kinky hair.
HERE ARE 5 COMMON MISTAKES WOMEN MAKE WHEN THEY GO NATURAL
No one is saying to leave it alone forever but give your hair a fighting chance as you go natural and care for it. Natural hair needs a ton of moisture, I mean a ton! You also can get heat damage with one application of direct heat and heat damage is irreversible. Here's an explanation below:
“If you heat keratin (hair protein) to around 215-235°C (419-455F) the alpha helix starts to melt. This is a physical change and it is irreversible, your hair will retain the shape of the melted keratin at a molecular level. Your hair shows you this molecular damage by not getting back into its natural curl or wave and staying straighter.” The Natural Haven
Indirect heat like heating caps, blow dryers with diffusers and on low heat or cool are the ideal ways to apply heat to your hair to stave off heat damage and dryness.
GETTING THE RIGHT TOOLS
Once you’ve decided on an approach to going natural, you must then equip yourself with the right styling tools and products. Before you begin buying new products, you must first get rid of all relaxers and chemical treatments from your home. If you decide to keep them, you may be tempted to use them further down the line.
Here is a list of all the tools most naturals need
- Wide-tooth comb
- Moisturizing conditioner
- processing caps (cheap plastic caps)
- Satin sleeping bonnet and/or satin pillowcase
- Clarifying Shampoo
- Cowashing conditioner
- Deep conditioner
- Leave-in conditioner
- Styling gel and/or styling cream
You may also want to experiment with different natural oils, sulfate-free shampoos and deep conditioning treatments to see which work best on your hair texture. It may be hard to find out what works initially so try a few popular brands that are easy to find and not that expensive like SheaMoisture, Curls, AS I AM Naturally or even Eden BodyWorks.
If you have decided to go with the Big Chop, chances are you’ve never had any experience styling your natural hair texture. You may want to take this time to test out different products on your hair, such as styling gels and curl activators.
For those of you who decide to transition, you will have more styling options, which may require purchasing several different hair care products. If transitioning, you should invest Magnetic Rollers / Perm Rods Or Flexi Rods
Wearing roller sets is an excellent way to disguise the difference in hair textures that comes with transitioning.
This is a very condensed list and by no means all the things you may need but a great guide. I have a few articles below that will also help as you start out:
BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO NATURAL HAIR | NATURAL HAIR 101
HOW TO MOISTURIZE DRY NATURAL HAIR
I'm continuing with the Going Natural series so let me know if there are more areas you would like help with below.