All you need for a smooth transition to a natural hair journey.

A quote by Coco Chanel declares that “a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life”.

I had poured through thousands of pictures of women owning their natural hair and was haunted by old images of my mother and great-aunt sporting their full, voluminous hair. I remember clearly the day I looked at my flat chemically straightened hair and decided that I wanted to do something different. The decision was a culmination of the need to have a radical reimagining of who I could be which was both deeply personal and superficial. So, in November 2014 after begging my reluctant mother to help me cut my hair, I took the scissors myself and cut off the ‘relaxed’ ends of my hair.

Nov 2014

In all honesty, transitioning my hair was purely accidental. What I mean by this is that I didn’t know I was doing it and that there was a term for it until I googled how to cut my hair minutes before I did. The last time I relaxed my hair was in June 2013. The decision to not relax my hair again coincided with the sudden loss of one of my relatives to cancer, which made me pause and reflect on substances we unnecessarily expose ourselves and which have been shown to be harmful to us.

JAN 2015

Of course, when I stopped relaxing my hair, it became more and more unmanageable due to the natural hair growth beneath the relaxed hair. As an engineering student at the time, I did not have time to try and sort out my hair. Until November 2014, I wore my hair in twist or box braids. Although I didn’t know I was doing what we term ‘transitioning’, my intuition followed what was recommended for your hair when transitioning.

A quote by Coco Chanel declares that “a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life”.

As much as possible, try not to handle transitioning hair too much, rather keep it moisturized and in a protective style. Moisturizing is something I really struggled with. Transitioning hair means you are dealing with two or more different hair textures which respond to moisturizing products differently. At the time (before I discovered natural hair products), not a single moisturizing product helped keep the natural roots of my hair moisturized. Combined with the fact that hair salons can be very aggressive with hair, my hair suffered breakage like I’ve never seen, especially when I would remove my braids.

JULY 2015

The advantage of transitioning your hair is that you can retain the length of your hair. I was not ready to do the ‘big chop’ only because of my lack of confidence around that (although I have done it once when I was younger). There is cost for retaining that length, however. The day I cut my hair, I really thought that was going to be the end of my relaxed hair. The truth is that you never really catch and cut all those ends; and the relaxed ends haunted me after that for the past years. As my natural hair grew and became more defined, I continued to really struggle with the ends of my hair which felt uneven and relaxed no matter how many times I cut them myself or went to a professional hair salon to get it cut. It is only in the last two years that I feel I finally have my ends under control. There were many times, when I contemplated doing the ‘big chop’ just because my ends were a nightmare. That is the disadvantage of transitioning. You feel like you are perpetually cutting your split ends, and therefore your hair length will become stagnant and you will struggle to have neat hair styles. In fact, it will often feel like you are going backwards with your hair length because of the amount of hair you will lose trying to manage it. If you have the patience for that, I say persist and keep trimming those ends!

MARCH 2016

All this, of course, depends on your hair type and it really is just about learning about your type and responding to your hair appropriately. I try not to be too prescriptive about my recommendations when sharing my hair journey for this reason. Contrary to how we’ve often seen hair especially black hair, hair has a life of its own and it’s about respecting it and being responsive to its needs in the way you would a child. I know,… it’s a lot but worth it.

*remember you are marked by flawless craftsmanship*

img_7975  About Author:

Jessica was born in Tsu, a small town in Japan and grew up in Likasi, DRC and East London, South Africa. Her hobbies include her passion for writing personal essays and poetry; and photography.

Jessica’s mission is to help create more socially-conscious and wholehearted professionals and leaders in Africa who work towards the betterment of the continent through transdisciplinary collaboration and experiential learning. She is passionate about human-centred innovation led through design thinking.

Jessica has been a facilitator with the Global Citizenship Program at the University of Cape Town, doing work in social justice education. 




10 thoughts on “All you need for a smooth transition to a natural hair journey.

    1. Thank you for the lovely feedback.

      I hope so too on your behalf. 😇 keep going, I know it will all be worth it 👌

      have you tried washing in sections so that you wash your hair side ways so that your hands are not raised above your head?(I hope this makes sense🙈)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I see! Makes two of us 🙈. I’ve noticed that detangling when hair is soaking wet, then applying conditioner also helps with making the detangling process easier to work my hands /detangling brush through. Hopefully I can find an even more effective way.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. After the ‘big chop’ my hair started to get long healthy and thick very quickly, It soon became apprent that I would be unable to wash my hair as I had been( like you, my arms ached). I quickly learnt to pre-poo and this saved my life!!!

      Sectioning and pre-pooing not only help with achy arms, but softened my hair so it was a lot easier to manage on wash days!

      I hope that’s helpful!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Bri. Thanks for stopping by😇

      It’s crazy indeed lol. I’ve experienced such change with certain products whereby my hair seems to have become a version of itself I’ve never experienced.

      Liked by 2 people

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