Extensive use of heat and chemical manipulation can be damaging to our hair, especially if your hair routine depends on it. For a long time, I felt dependent on heat manipulation methods such as chemical relaxers and flat ironing, and I turned a blind-eye to the damage it caused to my hair.
It wasn’t until my mom pointed out that my hair was thinning that I had to face the facts, and that what I thought looked like ‘good hair’ was really dry, dead and burnt.
At this point, I was also wearing hair extensions and flat-ironing and swirling my hair several times a week (for those unaccustomed to swirling or a swirlkouse - it’s a less trendy DIY hair wrap made from an old pair of stockings). The irony was that I still expected my hair to grow long, lustrous and healthily even as I was stripping away all life and nourishment.
After I made the choice to transition from damaged, life-less hair to naturally, healthy hair, I got rid of the extensions and stood staring into the mirror at the explosion of straggly, knotty hair on my head and wondered, “What the hell do I do now??”
Remember there is no right or wrong when going natural, but here are basic tips and methods that helped me during each stage of transition. I hope this inspires you onto the path of naturally, healthy hair.
Phase 1 – Shed those unwanted ends
Rather than chopping off all unwanted ends at once, which can take off a lot of length, I opted for the gradual chop. My hair was in bad shape with most of my hair past the point of any return. Because I was so used to wearing my hair in a bun all the time, I chose to maintain a manageable length that gave me the ability to still do so.
If you’re doing the DIY chop like I did, I cut off about 2 inches every 2-3 months. It’s important to differentiate your natural, healthy hair from the dead, damaged tips. The difference will be obvious as what you’ll need to cut off is the dry, limp-looking tips.
Phase 2- Becoming hair-ducated
I quickly discovered that our hair tells us what it needs – plenty of moisture and plenty of nourishment, especially after years of manipulation.
While waiting for re-growth, finding new products, styles and regimes that work best for you is important, but often requires trying a few before finding the right one.
The best daily regime and method that helps me retain moisture and conditioning is the Leave-in, Oil and Cream or LOC method.
It’s important to find a Leave-in water-based shampoo and conditioner. I am currently using Tresemmé Naturals shampoo and conditioner. It contains aloe vera, which is great for moisture and leaves my hair feeling soft, moisturised and smelling fresh.
Because we’re exposed to so many elements, Oil provides a lubricant that helps prevent loss of moisture. I made use of great yet easily accessible oils, such as coconut oil and olive oil.
Cream is an extra seal-in layer of hydration and assurance that no moisture is lost. I found that shea butter cream works best to aid that critical hydration and reduce breakage.
To find out more on the LOC method, go here
Phase 3 –awaiting growth
Because I chose to love my hair, my focus during this journey was about choosing what my hair needs to be healthy. Most of phase 2 and 3 is awaiting re-growth and requires plenty of patience while maintaining protective styles. The length will come so continue focusing on deep conditioning and moisturising, keeping your hair detangled and opt to wear hair in protective styles.
Google and Youtube became my go-to source for all tips and concerns I had.
Don’t become discouraged during your journey, going natural is going brave. Please note that there is no set time frame or limit to each phase or the overall length of your journey. It will take at least a year, so be patient with your crown.
Do you plan on or have you already started your natural hair transition? Share your stories with us and you could win a fabulous natural hair hamper!