Being a rookie when transitioning to our natural hair texture can have its advantages. Despite the daunting prospect of a long journey, in the initial stages, one can feel empowered, excited and inspired by the new decision which can feed determination and commitment to stay on the new journey. However, this positive energy can also mean people are naive, blissfully unaware of difficulties and often times not prepared for the new path. This, of course, means unintended errors can be made. In an attempt to help you bypass all, or most, of these mistakes here, are some rookie mistakes to avoid when transitioning to natural hair.
ROOKIE MISTAKES WHEN TRANSITIONING
#1| LIVING IN PROTECTIVE STYLES
While protective hairstyles such as weaves, wigs and extensions can help minimise excessive breakage, help retain hair length and help relieve the stress of this hair journey, they can also work against you. How?
Ever heard the saying “Too much of a good thing can also be bad for you”? Well, this is one of those situations. If you believe that living under these styles 24/7/52 weeks of the year will spare you from all the woes you want to avoid so desperately then don’t hold your breath.
Your scalp and hair need a rest from these protective styles. Just because your hair is not exposed, or as exposed, to the elements that can damage it, it doesn’t mean your hair doesn’t still need your TLC. Continue to pamper it, otherwise, breakage, dryness and thinning edges can stop being an unpleasant dream and start becoming a dramatic reality.
#2| USING THE SAME OLD TOOLS TO DETANGLE
Using a regular brush or regular comb to detangle your relaxed hair may have been the tool you reached for without much thought or consequences in the past, however, with transitioning hair, the story plays out differently. Your weak and straight relaxed hair can easily break at the line of demarcation, whereas your easily tangled curly hair can quickly become more tangled and knotted as you try to work with these tools on your hair.
To overcome this problem, use your fingers to gently separate and detangle those big tangles. Then go in with a brush maybe like the Ouidad Double Detangler or a wide-tooth comb, preferably with no seams.
#3| HAIR TYPE ANXIETY
How many of you can relate to this one mistake? Even though I was not obsessed with finding out what my curl type was, I guess we can all say that at some point on our journey we all wonder what ours is. And, there’s nothing wrong with knowledge, it empowers us.
However, when you compare yourself to others and expect/wish to have what they have, you are setting yourself for disappointment. No two heads of hair are the same and one normally has more than one hair type. I do! I guess this is related to unconsciously pre-imposed, perceived and accepted concepts of what “good hair is”. Notions that you are starting to challenge (since you’re taking this journey) and will certainly lose as you continue to get to know and love your hair. Remember, Good Hair is Healthy Hair!
“Comparisons can only lead to disappointment.
Remember: Good Hair is Healthy Hair!”
#4| THINKING YOU CAN CONTINUE AS YOU WERE
Making the decision to embrace your curly hair is not as simple as you may think it is. It’s not a just question of stopping a bad behaviour and expecting all the perks of not engaging in it (relaxer). No. It involves much more than that, it requires you to have a new relationship with your hair, one where you understand and meet its needs so you can reap the benefits.
Leaving your hair in the care of others (hairstylist) as before, or neglecting its needs will have to be a thing of the past. While doing periodical visits to your stylist is needed (trimming, specialist advice/services, treatments, etc), you should know your hair as well or even better than your stylist. How can you do better? By making the effort to understand the nature and needs of curly hair and by taking the time to know your hair, its unique characteristics – porosity, elasticity, texture and density (follow the 5 post series). You should also remain consistent and committed on your hair journey.
If you need some help with being consistent and you lack guidance on your daily, weekly and monthly hair care practices I wrote a post and created three different checklists you can print to help you out. It’s completely free, you only need to sign in and you can download them. You’ll also have access to a Free Recourse library with lots more help. Click this link or the image below to have access to your checklist. (Discontinued)
#5| SKIPPING THE DEEP CONDITIONER
Skipping isn’t even the proper word to describe what I was doing to my hair before I started my transitioning journey. Deep conditioning was simply nonexistent, the concept didn’t even make it to my hair routine. If this is an area you are lacking in, then you need to set yourself straight.
I know sometimes our wash day can become a long day and laziness can strike us. But, if this is your case you need to know that doing your conditioning treatments will improve your hair’s health by making it stronger, deeply moisturised and more resilient to damage.
If you want to learn more about deep conditioning make sure you grab my Curly Guide to Deep Conditioning.
#6| USING HEAT THE WRONG WAY
Frequent use of heat will have to become a thing of the past. Just because you stopped relaxing your hair it doesn’t mean that it’s automatically healthy. Your new hair, if taken good care of, will be but your relaxed hair is damaged and weak. In order to keep your natural hair healthy and to manage your relaxed hair, you will have to restrict the amount of heat you use heat.
On this journey, heat is good when used for your deep conditioning treatments or diffusing on a low setting. Heat, however, is not advised if you want to frequently use it to manage the two different textures or even to go about your transitioning hair journey with straighten hair thinking no harm is done and that it will make things easier.
Well, if these are your thoughts then by the end of your journey (though you won’t need to wait that long) you’ll be wondering where did your curls go? Yes, that’s right, you’ll have to deal with heat damage and go through another transitioning period. I’m sure you don’t want to go through the ordeal again.
#7| NEGLECTING A REGULAR TRIM
I know we all signed up for the long road to natural hair because we couldn’t entertain the notion of having short hair and wanted to keep our length. However, regularly trimming your hair will actually help you retain your length. Overlooking this very important step in any hair journey is signing up for breakage.
Your relaxed ends are vulnerable and will become more damaged as they get exposed to environmental, physical and mechanical damage. This means split ends and breakage will increase and the length and health will decrease. Trim your hair regularly.
#8| TRYING EVERY PRODUCT IN THE MARKET
We can get inspired and thrilled with all the different results our curly hair icons are getting when they use a specific product or even try a new technique, but we can’t go around constantly trying everything that is thrown our way. Yes, transitioning can be about experimenting and discovering new things, however, you should give your hair, and yourself, some time to try a new product or technique before you throw in the towel and skip to the next one.
Give your products at least a 4-week trial before discarding them. Try them in different product combinations and techniques and maybe you’ll be surprised by what you discover. Transitioning doesn’t have to break the bank or have you become a product junkie. Still, if you really dislike a product you should stop using it or you can always repurpose them.
We’ve all been novices in our hair journeys and we’ve all made mistakes, at least once. This post is not meant to point out any possible errors you’ve made so far, it is only meant to help you avoid any further mistakes. Hey, maybe you’ve been an A+ student in your journey and committed minimal “offences”, that’s great! Congrats. However, for those of you who have not been so lucky, or those who are just starting out I hope this post will help avoid rookie mistakes when transitioning to natural hair.