Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Q: How do I know when it's time to cut my relaxed hair?

Another question from myspace!

Good morning, I spoke with a classmate who recommended your website, and I saw that you are on myspace. Anyhow, I have relaxed hair, and I have made the decision to grow out my natural hair...I am at a lost. It will be two months since I have last had a relaxer! I am excited, and I am wanting to know what I should do while my hair is changing. I do not want to cut my hair for personal reasons. Nevertheless, I wanted to know will I know the time to when it is time to cut my relaxed hair? I really didn't know I was going to have to cut my hair in the long run, but I am not changing my mind because I am happy with the decision I have made. I wanted to know if getting braids or twists for a while will help my hair because I don't want to experience hair loss or scalp damage? My hair is usually dry in the winter, and the grease I have purchased (its the grease mama and 'nem' used to press my hair ages ago :) I am not sure I should use. Do you have any suggestions of what types of products I should use? I am going through this process alone, and I really do not have any one that is telling me how I should take care of my hair since I am use to knowing how to take care of relaxed hair. I am sorry for this long message. I had so many questions for you.

My response:

First of all, congratulations on your decision to go natural! There are quite a lot of women who would rather not cut their relaxed hair off all at once. It is a very personal decision. Likewise, you will know when it is time to let it go. You will feel it, and you will cut it. There are a number of ways women know when it's time - they experience a lot of breakage, they get tired of trying to style the two different textures, their natural hair reaches the length they want, or they suddenly get a burst of courage.

During the time you are transitioning, there are really two key things to focus on: 1) you will need to keep your hair moisturized, and 2) the point where your relaxed hair meets your natural hair is very fragile. You want to wear the simplest styles possible with as little manipulation as possible. Something "tied down" like a bun or cornrows are good options. Styles that disguise the two textures and don't require combing like a wet set are also good. Check out Natural Hair Photos for a few pictures of transition styles.

Braids and twists are fine during your transition. If you are planning to use extensions, it's probably best to go to a natural hair stylist to have them done versus a braiding salon. Theoretically, a natural hair care salon will understand what you are trying to accomplish and give more consideration to the overall health of your hair. When you get braids done improperly, unfortunately they can cause scalp damage and hair loss. When my sister was transitioning, she learned how to do extension braids and cornrows herself. It may be easier than you think. Try Braids by Breslin, Taliah Waajid, or Khamit Kinks for braiding videos.

Use a moisturizing shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, leave in conditioner, moisturizing styling products...there is really no such thing as hair that is too moist for a transitioner. Sorry, but I have to say you should take that grease and toss it, or use it to fix squeaky doors...seriously the petroleum is not good for our skin or hair. It clogs and coats instead of penetrating or moisturizing. Stick to natural products as much as possible, which can be tough to find in the drug store. A few of my favorites are Mia Simone's Boutique, CURLS, and Kinky Curly, all available online. I also use Elucence moisturizing shampoo which I like a lot. For homemade products, I use vegetable glycerin and castor oil mixed with water.

I hope I have answered your questions, and I wish you the best of luck in your journey.

Peace, Kaya

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