About a year ago, I gathered up enough courage to big chopped my transitioning hair. I originally planned to grow out my hair for a year to 18 months and then cut off the permed ends. But eight months into the transition from relaxed to unrelaxed hair, I couldn't take it anymore! The two different textures were driving me crazy. So, for a variety of reasons, you can read here, September 13th, 2014, I big chopped.
I've learned a lot this year. I've had some good hair days and I've had some very bad hair days, but it's all worth it. I've learned how to keep it moisturized, how to detangle it, how to style it, how to maintain a style, how to create looks with Marley hair. And while it's having natural hair isn't a walk in the park, I still feel like it's right for me.
The hardest part was finding the right routine with the right products. But through trial and error, I think I found one that works well for me (at least in this stage of the game!)
My routine after the break!
Pre-poo with olive oil and water
If my hair is particularly dry, or I have a lot of product build-up, I'll mix extra virgin olive oil and water in spray bottle. I dampen my hair with the mixture and a put a cap over it for 20 or 30 mins and wash it out. The olive oil helps moisturize the strands before washing, causing less breakage.
The biggest change in my transitioning process was co-washing instead of shampooing. Shampoo strips hair of it essential oils making dry natural hair even drier. A sulfate free cleansing conditioner gets hair just as clean without the lather that strips it of it's oils. Additionally, conditioners help define your curls. Once I started washing with a conditioner, my curl pattern (4a/b hair, with a patch of 3C in the back) really started to pop. I started using As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner but switched to SheaMoisture Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System Conditioner and Giovanni Direct Leave-in Conditioner in the past few months.
I deep conditioned while I had relaxed hair, so this wasn't a big step for me. After co-washing, I put in a deep conditioner, either SheaMoisture Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System Hair Masque or Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner and let it sit under a cap for 30 or so minutes.
I detangle twice during my routine. Once in the shower under the running water with a wide tooth comb, which makes the process a lot easier and once before styling using a denman brush.
During the first six months of growing my hair back, I didn't do much as far as styling. When it was really short, I coiled just the top. When it grew a bit more, I bantu knotted the entire thing for an evenly length TWA. And I was soooo excited the first time my natural hair was long enough to flat twist. Now, I usually do a twist out or flat twists to achieve a fluffed out fro. And if done properly I can get 3-4 days out of it.
After rinsing the deep conditioner out of my hair, I dry my hair with a white tee. A cotton tee has a smoother texture than a terrycloth towel and helps reduce frizz. I side part my hair and apply Giovanni Direct Leave-in Conditioner. As a styler, I use either Shea Moisture's Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie or Shea Moisture's Jamaican Black Castor Oil Renewal Lotion. The smoothie is more moisturizing, but gives a softer curl. The lotion gives a tighter more defined curl, but can leave my hair dry after the first few days. Finally, I seal the moisture and styler in with a shea butter and jojoba oil mix. The addition of jojoba oil has really helped in adding and retaining moisture. The heaviness of the shea butter helps stretch the curls for a longer look.
Also, whenever my hair is dry or needs a refresh for a new style, I steam my hair using one of two methods. Leaving my shower cap off in the shower, or spraying my hair with water and letting it sit under a shower cap for 30 minutes. Depending on what products are already in it, I'll seal the moisture in with the smoothie or shea butter.
I've also tried a few protective styles. Protective styles, as the name eludes to, protect hair from manipulation and again, breakage. I've had fun with styles like hair wraps, Marley hair buns and purple Senegalese twists (and a failed attempt at crochet braids.) They've been great this summer to combat humidity and to keep my longer strands off my neck. Going forward I want purple box braids and maybe even a wig.
My natural hair is a source of pride for me. It helps me feel authentically me. Though I've had some tough times with it, finally after a year, getting a consistent routine has helped my hair to flourish.
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