I had gotten my last relaxer at the end of 2009 because my hairstylist suggested it. The reason I decided to not relax my hair anymore was because my hair stylist suggested it. I had no idea what motivated her suggestion, but I would soon find out. She said, “You don’t need a relaxer, we can blow it out straight.” Although, I have a background in cosmetology, she had been doing my hair for over 12 years, so I left it in her hands. This is when I began my pseudo transition. I continued my regular schedule, I went every two weeks for my wash, set and blow and she was right, my hair looked like I had a fresh relaxer. Every time I went, she would blow my hair within an inch of its life. After doing that for a year, which I describe as my pseudo transition, the damage was starting to visibly show. My hair started to thin out, detangling was taking more and more time, I was experiencing a lot of breakage and no matter what I did, my hair felt dry and brittle.
One day, I decided to skip my normal salon visit and wash my own hair. To say that I had suffered some damage to my hair was an understatement. I was so surprised to see the new growth with stringy ends and my hair felt fragile. At that moment, I decided that I was going to have to deal with my own hair for a while. As I made that decision, I looked in the mirror at my hair and realized that I had no idea what to do. Do I just cut it all off, suffer through a protective style like braids, weave or wig? Although, I worn braids in my early 20’s, I could not see myself doing it now because I’ve always been tender headed, but even more so than I was back then. A weave and wig were out too, those had never been for me. I decided against cutting it all off – I wasn’t ready, so I had to just deal with it. Dealing with it was easier said than done since I had had a relaxer since I was like 5 years old. I had no idea what my natural texture felt like. Even with my education in cosmetology, this was new and extreme to me. To add more stress to the situation, I had no idea how to deal with two textures.
I started my research on Google, then I ended up on natural haircare forums, I read tons of blogs about natural hair and even found some on transitioning to natural hair. On one of these blogs, someone mentioned a YouTube video as a reference and I went on YouTube and was hooked. I probably watched YouTube video tutorials until my sight was blurry. I had to figure out how to deal with the two textures. I learned about lines of demarcation, how my relaxed hair may respond differently than my natural hair, different ways to style to match the textures, how to develop a healthy hair regimen, etc. I was determined to figure out how to manage my hair. After lots of trial and error, I started to get the hang of it. I will admit that I spent an unmentionable amount of money on products for my hair (yes, I was a product junky). At that time, I wasn’t paying attention to ingredients at all. I didn’t know how petroleum, mineral oil, parabens, silicones and sulfates would affect my hair or my skin for that matter and because of it, I suffered some setbacks.
To figure out how to really manage my hair, I decided to do more research, so I bought a bunch of books on hair care such as The Science of Black Hair, If You Love It Will Grow, Grow It, Ultra Black Hair Growth II, Curly Girl: The Handbook, Hair Rules and Don’t Go Shopping For Hair-Care Products Without Me. I learned about protein moisture balance, porosity, PH balance, emollients and so many other things. After that, I started adding raw ingredients to my commercial products then eventually I started experimenting with mixing my own products from raw ingredients.
Another challenge that I faced during that time, to make matters worse, was that my family and friends weren’t very supportive at all. They would ask me what I was going through and tell me to just relax my hair. They just didn’t understand what I was doing. I did my best to ignore that negative chatter even though at times I questioned should I just go back to relaxing my hair? I went through some soul searching and realized I couldn’t and wouldn’t let their opinions sway my decision to be my authentic self despite adversity. I was adamant about staying true to myself which was the best decision I could have ever made.
My transition lasted a total of 22 months before I decided to cut off the remainder of the relaxed ends and it has been one of the best decision that I have ever made. My transition has changed my life. I will not lie, my journey has not always been easy, but it allowed me to learn a lot about what works on my hair.