After over 22 years of loving, living and working in the "Beautifying Business", it never ceases to amaze me how trends and fads, while some are cool and some are "interesting", tend to make some feel their style choices give them the right shame others.
"Going Natural" has been the trendy thing in some cases and the empowering thing in other cases. But what does "Going Natural" mean? Technically it means: You do not use ANY chemical to alter your hair, ie. relaxers, perms (yes, there is a difference- that's for another blog post), color, texturizers, keratin treatments, chinese straighteners, Vigorol (some of you may be to young to know with this is: it a old fashion liquid relaxer) or any other CHEMICAL that can be used to change the natural pattern/texture of your hair.
If this is true, why is there so many "Naturalist" that shame people for either blowing out, flat ironing or hot combing their hair. First, let me just send this piece of advise out, "Mind Your Hair Business!" Now that I got that out the way, let me now talk to those that are thinking about this choice because of medical reasons, financial reasons or just because you want a change in texture or routine... Going natural outside of the explanation I previously wrote, is totally up to your discretion.
Over the years, as the natural hair movement has grown to the point where the big product companies have jumped on the "Black and Natural" bandwagon, I am constantly asked, "is it really natural if you put heat to your hair?" The answer is yes! I know several "Naturalist" just clutched their Shea Moisture and Cantu closed to their chest and began crying. Before all these grown women were so educated and self-righteous, they used to get their natural hair pressed and curled with the steel hot comb using that big blue or green jar of Dax, and they were still natural. These same "specialists" offer weaves, braid extensions and wigs as "protective styles. I am just as confused as my clients and others, I thought the point of going natural is to...be natural. Don't get me wrong, I feel you can and should do what ever is healthy for YOUR hair. Everything is not for everyone's hair and not every stylist knows how to assist with someone transitioning from chemical to natural. Do your research outside of just looking for cute styles. Find a good ethical stylist and follow their instructions.
After 30 years, I have decided not to chemically straighten my hair. As a stylist, I believe we must be groomed and stylish at all times (heels, coiffed hair, stylish outfit and a bag is my everyday all day must have). That being said, as I am going natural, I will and have been flat ironing my hair once a week. My relaxed hair is healthy, my natural portion is soft and easy to manage along with what is left of my relaxed hair. I would rather not do a big chop. When all of the relaxed hair is trimmed off during my regular scheduled hair trims, I will continue to flat iron my hair. I will also do twist outs, rod sets, roller sets, top knots, color (once all the relaxer is cut out, because it is weaker than my natural and may break off) and other styles with my own hair.
I am a stylist that believes that my clients must be educated about "Their" hair. When you know what is best for your hair and why, you are more prone to take better care of your crowning beauty. This allows us to look good as a unit ;-)
The following are some tips for transitioning:
Know Why You Are Transitioning. Trends and fads work great for clothes, but can be disastrous when it comes to your hair. If the reason for your decision is for medical reasons, explain the issue to your stylist to allow them to create a "Transitioning Plan Of Action". If it is because of finances, talk to your stylist about other options if you would actually prefer to continue using chemicals or discuss the financial commitment and process of transitioning. You always need a "Transitioning Plan Of Action"
Create And Follow The "Transitioning Plan Of Action" That You And Your Stylist Create. You will need take home products such as: a good Oil, Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-In Conditioner and a Styling Product that will help you recreate your style just in case your salon style explodes after the gym, rain, vacation etc. Discuss simple styles you can do at home if you are not able to get into the salon. You may be used to just pulling it back into a neat ponytail on bad hair days when you have a relaxer, but during the transition period bad hair days can sometimes be catastrophic depending on the difference between your natural texture, length and the remainder of your relaxed hair.
Choose Your Stylist Wisely. Natural hair is big business right now. Many clients have come in and said they have been charge upper-wards in the amount of $125 just for a blow dry with a basic shampoo and conditioner and have walked out with over $100 worth of products. Hey, I am not knocking anyone's hustle, but know what you are paying for. You should receive a treatment. I prefer a oil treatment if your hair is healthy. You can alternate both a moisturizing protein treatment once a month and oil treatment once a month if your hair is damaged while transitioning to help the hair that is relaxed stay healthy and strong, while keeping the natural hair moisturized and extra manageable. You should also get a trim between every one to two months to help the relaxed hair from spitting. After the transition period moves into full natural, you should do you best to get at least one treatment a month and a trim every three months. You should buy the products that are used on your hair at the salon, such as the products I mentioned previously.
Choosing Protective Styles Should Be Decided Depending On The Health Of Your Hair. Braids can be a gift and a curse to both natural and chemically treated hair. If your hair is dry and brittle use human hair. If your hair holds moisture pretty well and is healthy, you can use good quality synthetic hair (I still prefer human hair, but they have create pretty decent synthetic hair recently). Do not allow the braider to braid your hair too tight. Get a treatment prior to applying the braids. Do not blow dry the hair from wet; let your hair air dry under the dryer braided and then blow dry your hair to remove the rest of the moisture. Do not let the braids stay in too long; six weeks for adults is the longest and one month for children. Oil your scalp while the braids are in your hair. You should receive a treatment after you remove the braids. Do not get braids back to back; give your hair and scalp time to recover. Weaves are my least favorite style for black women. It can be very damaging when applied improperly or handled improperly after the client goes home. You should receive a treatment prior to applying the weave. The weave should not be too tight. Instructions on how to maintain the hair that is left out must be given to the client. Do not use glue unless a protective cap is applied under the weave. Do not color your hair while the weave is still in your hair. Do not leave the weave in too long ( I suggest 6-8 weeks at the most). Do not apply weaves to children (yes, people do). Wigs can be useful during transitioning. You must braid the hair under the weave and wear a cap. All of the steps I previously mentioned above should be followed with all of the previously discussed protective styles; shampooing, deep conditioning, trims etc. Some of these steps can not be completed as frequently as needed if you have protective styles such as weaves and braids.
When deciding what is best for you and your hair lifestyle, have patience, educate yourself other than watching the wonderful "kitchen beauticians" that are on YouTube with the shower curtain backdrop, find and trust your stylist and eat right. Remember, you are not your hair...or anyone else's