Check out the this week’s installment in CurlyNikki’s reader Q&A series:
What’s the best way to maintain my natural hair through transitioning? I don’t want to cut the residual perm off! –Denise Jackson
The process of ‘going natural’ is highly personal and there is no right or wrong way to do it. While many opt to Big Chop, or to chop off all of their chemically treated hair at once, others, like yourself, choose to slowly grow out the relaxer, or “transition.” The benefit of transitioning is that you get to keep your length while your natural hair grows in. Since your hair has two very different textures, breakage and shedding can become a problem. Here’s how to have a smooth, successful transition:
Excessive heat styling is dangerous as it compromises protein bonds. Using heat as a crutch while transitioning can result in an uneven curl pattern, loss of curl and breakage. Sadly, this damage is irreversible and you’ll be facing yet another transition.
Try Low Manipulation Styles
Choose styles that seamlessly blend the two textures (and don’t stress your edges!). Twist and braid-outs, pin curls, roller sets, buns and braids should be your style staples. Handle your hair gently and infrequently and remember to moisturize.
The line of demarcation is where your natural hair meets the relaxed hair. It is a point of weakness and the source of breakage for many transitioners. For this reason, use your fingers instead of combs and brushes when detangling and styling.
Your relaxed ends need protein to maintain strength and prevent breakage. I recommend monthly protein treatments and weekly moisturizing deep treatment with heat. Your hair will thank you later!
You’re gonna need it. The two very different textures can be overwhelming, often the reason why many women chop prematurely. And a hasty Big Chop could lead to a return to the relaxer, or months of confidence issues related to your hair. Nikki “CurlyNikki” Walton is a psychotherapist and creator of the largest online natural hair resource. Along with tips and product recommendation, Walton also implements her psychotherapy skills in the sub-section “On the Couch with Curly Nikki.