Transitioning to natural hair is not easy for everyone. For some people it may take two, three or even more trials to finally embrace natural hair. I was about 19 when I transitioned to natural hair and I literally woke up one day and decided that I would never relax my hair again and that was it. I realise that this is actually unusual and it is more common to find people struggling with natural hair especially in the early stages. Here are the top reasons why transitioning may be difficult and what to do if you are struggling to transition:
1. Nothing catastrophic happened to your relaxed hair
If your hair is currently processed in some way (relaxed, texlaxed etc) and it is well taken care of, meaning not overprocessed, no overt breakage, no relaxer burns etc, you are unlikely to have a compelling reason to stop relaxing your hair. Your reasons would have to be more organic for example reducing the expense of chemical processing, reducing time spent on maintenance of the processed hair and /or stopping the use of chemical processing or even wanting to change your personal aesthetic. These reasons although valid, simply do not have the urgency related to loss of hair or persistent scalp problems. They therefore can be postponed indefinitely and therefore the solution is to set a deadline and stick to it.
2. Negative feedback/resistance from friends, family and significant others
It is your hair and you should do what makes you happy with it. If your friends or relatives say negative things about your hair (and some are going to!)then it is your choice to select your reaction. You can ignore it, you can educate the person, you can fight the person or you can let it affect you. In general, the first two are usually the better options and I would go as far as to say that you should not transition at all until you can ignore negative comments or educate people without being defensive. Words can have a great impact on self confidence, if you are low on confidence, do not jump into transitioning without preparation.
3. Straight hair thinking with natural hair
‘When are you going to do your hair?’ or ‘What are you going to do with your hair?‘ These are the two most common questions I received in the first two years of being natural. A short moisture drenched beautifully shrunken afro with a flower clip for some reason meant that my hair was not ‘done’. If you hair does not form natural tendrils and spirals, then frizz (or a fuzz halo as I call it) is bound to be part of your normal look some of the time. If your hair forms tendrils and spirals, some days you will have frizz depending on the weather and products you use. You have to change your version of what it means to have your hair ‘done’ into what your hair actually does.
4. You’re not yet comfortable with the reflection in the mirror
Some of us were fortunate enough to grow up with natural hair and therefore are used to seeing ourselves as well as our peers with natural hair. Some people were relaxed at a young age and therefore are used to the image of straight natural hair. Some of us were taught to relate relaxing hair with growing up and therefore struggle with the idea of embracing natural hair as it appears to be a regression to childhood. For a smooth transition, you have to spend time in the mirror looking at that hair and that new image. Accepting that image for some takes seconds, for others it is a struggle over years. The more positive adjectives you use to describe yourself and your hair, the more you can condition yourself to accept and embrace that new image before chopping the relaxed hair.
5. You have not done your research – properly
The advent of forums, blogs and YouTube mean that information about natural hair is plentiful. The mistake that some transitioners make is sticking with information from a small set of people whose hair they like. Unfortunately, natural hair is not a one size fits all deal. It comes in different thickness, curl patterns and kinkiness. The worst thing to do is to emulate someone else’s routine without tweaking it if necessary to suit your texture. Something as simple as combing hair soaking wet with conditioner is very popular on youtube as is the infamous denman brush, yet on some hair these things are terrible. If a tool or technique does not work after a couple of trials and tweaking, it is not for your hair.
6. Lack of patience
Some people are able to transition but after 6 months or a year are ready to give up. Often the reasons cited include lack of length and problems with detangling. The fact is that it takes a long time to get long hair and with natural hair, the longer it gets, the more time and effort it requires to maintain (at least when it comes to detangling). Having short natural hair is a perfectly good solution as is locking natural hair. However, if it is your determination to have free form natural hair, a good dose of patience and protective styling is going to be mandatory in your journey.
Ladies, if you tried and failed to go natural, what were the reasons? What kind of challenges did you face?