Ask the Experts: Transitioning from Relaxed to Natural Hair

Ask the Experts: Transitioning from Relaxed to Natural Hair
ESSENCE.COM Jan, 11, 2012

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The “Big Chop” is a phrase used by naturals for when a woman cuts off her relaxed hair to begin her natural journey. “One of the chief concerns for women getting ready to make the Big Chop is looking too masculine with short hair. I always recommend that women taper the sides and leave more length at the top for a more feminine short look.”

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“When my clients first go natural, I always work with them and help them get to know their natural texture,” says Fletcher. “It’s important that you start learning about your hair texture and really embracing your own unique curl pattern.”

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“A lot of women choose to wear braided or twisted styles during the transition,” says Fletcher. “These are good because a lot of women want low-maintenance styles so there’s not a lot of manipulating the hair, which can be fragile with two different textures during the transition.”

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If you opt for braids or twists during your transition, be sure that the style is not too tight. Soreness or headaches are a sign that you could be experiencing too much tension on the scalp or your edges, which could cause breakage and even permanent hair loss.

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One of the most popular styles to wear during transition is a short, kinky-curly bob. “If you choose to add extensions make sure to use the appropriate hair and the appropriate technique,” warns Fletcher. “Use hair that is similar in texture to your own so that you get used to taking care of styling and wearing curly hair.”

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“Our salon offers what we call a ‘Wildflower Weave’ which is one of our most popular services for women in transition,” says Fletcher. “First, we cornrow your own hair and then latch-stich the extensions onto the braids. Since there are no tracks, glue or thread, there’s no tension on your own hair. We have 8 different naturally curly textures to choose from to make the hair look as natural as possible.”

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If you’re worried about your short hair being boring, toss those fears out the window! Sassy makeup or bold accessories can make any naturally curly, braided or twisted style sizzle with flair.

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“About 90% of my clients work in corporate America and are very concerned about looking professional during transition,” says Fletcher. “There are many styles that look both professional and classy, such as twisted bobs which we cut into layers to frame the face.”

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Another great alternative for working women is a twisted bun. “Some of my clients were worried about their hair being a distraction at work,” says Fletcher. “As a result, I created a style called the ‘Interview Bun,’ where hair is pulled off the face and the style is very neat and polished.”

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Another great thing about wearing twists during your transition is not having to use heat on your hair daily. “If you’re new to transitioning and you have two different textures, more than likely you’re going to want to flat-iron your hair,” says Fletcher. “I always advise to stay away from heat. It’s only going to make your transition phase longer because you really continue to straighten out your natural curl.”

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“It’s always best to consult with a professional in the early stages of your transition,” advises Fletcher. “You may not need to go to the salon on a regular basis, but you need someone to help you customize your new regimen and answer any questions you may have.”

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“After meeting with a professional, you can then start to seek out different styling ideas on YouTube or other sites on the Internet,” says Fletcher. “There are so many more resources today than there were 16 years ago when I made my own transition.”

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If you’re concerned about not having a “curl pattern,” coils or what Fletcher calls “Pygmy Twists,” can add definition to short, kinky textured hair. “Not everyone’s hair is going to have really defined curls naturally, so I always tell clients that it’s important to find techniques and products suitable to your own texture,” says Fletcher.

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No matter what style you choose, always keep in mind that your transition is a personal journey. “Transitioning is not only about hair, it’s a mental change too,” says Fletcher. It’s important to open yourself up to exploring different looks and embracing your beautifully textured hair.

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