So: the following are the steps I took to go from relaxed hair to natural hair. I believe this is the best method not just because I used this method, but it was indeed a stress-free transition.
1) My last hair relaxer (not PERM but I will explain during my next blog) was in May 2008. I decided at that point I needed something different and decided to take the challenge AGAIN (I went natural is 2005 after the birth of my second child but I wasn't ready so I got a relaxer after 3 weeks).
2) For the next 10 months I wore what I call "phony pony's" ponytails, weaves and braids. When I wore the pony tails I washed and deep conditioned my hair once a week, to get rid of the build up for gels, sweat, and the natural oil build up from my scalp and pores. When I braided my hair I made sure to invest in a good oil for my hair and scalp. I did not keep the braids in too long: keeping them in causes your hair to break at the root due to the extensions pulling and weighing your own hair down when your hair starts to grow out. With weaves, the same rule applied. Weaves make your hair grow a lot but you must be careful on how long you leave weaves in, and make sure your stylist does not weave your hair too tight.
3) In March 2009 when the weather started to get a little warm, I decided to take out the fake hair and wear my own. I started getting my mind mentally prepared for the change. After all, I haven't seen my natural hair texture since I was 14 and I didn't pay that much attention to it then because the "in" thing was to get a relaxer and not walk around with your hair "nappy". So I began to roller set my hair on perm rods (the rods that are used for permanent waves) and that is how I achieved my straw curl set. Using straws on natural hair just wasn't going to work for me, so I had to improvise.
4) In June 2009, I couldn't take it anymore. The constant warring between the two textures on top of my head nearly drove me nuts- especially when I washed and conditioned my hair, and I saw all of this beautiful, natural new growth and then these straggly, stringy ends just there, limp and dead. So my friend, who has been natural for years offered to cut my relaxed ends off. Now my timeline was September but I couldn't take it anymore! So there I went and....BAM! Off. Gone. Did I like it initially? Not really. I wanted big, natural ringlets cascading down my face, blowing in the wind...yeah not just yet. So, 20 years of relaxers, wash & sets, getting burnt by the blow dryer, using vinegar and cholesterol conditioner to wash out the sores from the relaxer... gone. I am au natural!
Now what do I do? I go to the beauty supply store and purchase loads upon loads of products. It took a while and through trial and error, with the help of my natural sistahs, I learned about some great products most of which, I still use today. Let's take a look at some of those products.
Shampoo- I don't use shampoo often, but when I do, I use Phyto Organics Theratin Extreme Moisture Shampoo is a great moisturizing shampoo. You can find this at your local beauty supply store, or JC Penney's Salon (they often have great sales on retail products).
Homemade conditioners- Fresh Haas Avocados with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Store brought conditioners- I found Herbal Essences to be a great conditioner. I use the Hello Hydration, & the Long Term Relationship conditioners.
Oils- you can make some great homemade hair oils for daily use or for hot oil treatments. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil as your base and mix oils, depending on results you want to achieve (I will go more in depth on this at a later date.
Styling Products: Kinky Curly Curly Custard and Knot Today Hair Detangler are two amazing products for natural hair! I've been using it for the last 3 months and I love it! The knot today is used to detangle your hair and separate your natural curl pattern. The Curly Custard is an organic gel that helps to enhance your natural curl pattern and they way it looks wet is the way it looks once your hair dries. The trick is you have to read and follow the directions. The best method I've found is to apply these products in the shower while your hair is saturated. You can find these products on the Kinky Curly website: www.Kinky-Curly.com
Styling Products: Mizani True Textures is a great product as well. I only used it once, and the curl pattern was stretched out more than the Kinky Curly, but the texture of my hair was different. I plan to do more research and experimenting with this product, so I'll keep you posted.
Well that's just about all folks! I know this is a wealth of information, but as the summer creeps around the corner, keep these things in mind:
* Wash your hair with conditioner. If you frequent the beach or pools, you will need to keep your beautiful, thick tresses moisturized.
Until we meet again, take care of your hair!