Hey guys! I remember that when I first started my transition, I was SO confused because I didn’t really know how to start or what to do. The natural hair online community is so full of information that sometimes it’s hard to sort through everything and find out what you really need. I decided to create this transitioning FAQ as a starting base for new naturalistas that may need help on their hair journey. As you read through, if there’s anything on here that you would like answered then feel free to comment below or submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. xoxo
What is ‘going natural’?
For lack of interest in a great psychological debate, going natural is simply switching from adding any chemical treatments to your hair. For most, a natural hair journey involves stopping the use of perms and relaxers. ‘Going natural’ just means not putting any more relaxers in your hair.
How do I go natural?
Stop putting relaxers in your hair! You can go natural in two ways- either by transitioning or doing a big chop. A transition means growing your natural hair out while simultaneously cutting the relaxed ends until all of your hair is natural. A big chop (also referred to as BC) means cutting all of your relaxed hair off at one time. Some people cut all their hair off and start from scratch; others start off transitioning then get tired of dealing with the two textures and cut their hair off within a few months. It’s all about which method makes YOU comfortable.
How do I create a ‘regimen’?
If you haven’t already, you will need to create your own hair regimen. That means you decide what products and methods you will do to your hair. I have a weekly regimen myself, which consists of pre-poo, wash, and deep condition. I also have a daily regimen where I seal my hair and ends with a leave in conditioner and an essential oil. I have a post on How to create a hair regimen
; which goes into more details if you’re confused.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are pure 100% oils that help your hair in various ways. Some of them include (but aren’t limited to) coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil and avocado oil. Beware that some companies are tricky about what they market as a “oil”. Make sure to read the label (unless you bought the oil at a natural or health food store) because some products contain other ingredients in addition to your oil. That prevents your hair from getting the full benefit that it would have received otherwise.
You can find oils like coconut oil and olive oil at your local supermarket. I personally use the same brand of olive oil for my hair and my food. Castor, avocado, and sweet oil I found at my local BSS. I was fortunate enough to buy pure argon oil while on a trip to Morocco, but they do have it at stores like Duane Reade (only for a really high price, I haven’t seen argon oil below $20).
What is the best essential oil?
This is an impossible question to answer because all of these oils do different things. My personal favorite happens to be coconut oil, because it has the ability to penetrate the hair, it effectively moisturizes scalp and reduces split ends. An oil like grapeseed oil is good as a heat protectant. Castor oil is a really thick oil, and works well for pre poo and deep conditioning. It’s all about researching your oils (or reading my upcoming blog posts!) to find an oil with the benefits that your hair is craving.
How often should I wash my hair? Can I follow the same patterns I had when I had a relaxer?
NO! I’ve heard some naturals say that they do not wash their for weeks up to a month and I disagree with that totally. When your hair is processed, you tend to avoid moisture because the two did not combine well. In my personal experience, the only time I washed my hair when I had a relaxer was when I went to the salon to get it done. This is so wrong. Natural hair tends to be really dry and you need moisture especially when you’re in the beginning of your hair journey. It’s important to wash, moisturize, and seal your hair OFTEN to make sure that it doesn’t dry out. When your hair is dry you can get dandruff and dandruff can slow down or even stop hair growth. WASH YOUR HAIR LADIES!What are the best products to use to grow my hair?
This is a number one question that gets asked by transitioners- I myself asked this. But to be honest, there is no universal “it” product that is going to help make your hair grow. Going on a hair journey, whether transitioning or doing a big chop, is a cause for personal reflection. You learn how to care for your hair, what it likes, what it doesn’t like. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. It all depends on your hair.With that said, it’s still possible to find products that contain ingredients that are well known for being beneficial to hair growth. From my personal opinion, brands such as Shea Moisture and DevaCurl are good because they contain organic ingredients and not the “bad stuff”.What’s the “bad stuff”?
If you’ve been looking around the natural hair community for a while (unless my blog is the first place you’ve visited- in that case YAY!), you’ve heard that a lot of hair products contain ingredients that are really bad for your hair, and that it’s important to read and analyze product labels. Well that’s true. Certain ingredients, especially if they’re higher on the list, can be extremely damaging to hair. They include:
Reading shampoo or conditioner labels, you may come across ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate
or sodium lauryl sulfate.
These ingredients are responsible for the suds that you experience normally when washing hair. They are extremely drying, and are the same ingredients that can be found in dish washing detergents! When going natural, it’s important to remember that your hair is already dry enough as is. It’s important to give it moisture, moisture, moisture. This is one of the top ingredients to avoid in your hair. Some naturals are even known to skip shampoo-ing, because they don’t want to lose the moisture in your hair. (Enter The Cowash)
This ingredient can also be found within certain beauty products. It’s meant to help preserve the shelf life of items, seeing as how some products are left in stores or storage for months before even being purchased. Parabens have been rumored to have a link to cancer. As a result, I just avoid on principle. If you come across methylparaben, propylparaben,
then I would suggest just leaving the product alone.Silicones:
Silicones are a synthetic material and are used in a lot of beauty products as well. They are bad for hair, because they actually repel water and moisture. With silicones in your hair, it’ll be harder for your hair to absorb moisture. Apparently, they can also weigh down your hair and distort your curl pattern.
How do I pick a product with so much to choose from?
Since the growth of the “natural hair movement” (for lack of a better term), there have been so many companies that have started to market their “natural products”. However, don’t believe the hype. Just because a product may have “for naturals” written on it, doesn’t mean that the natural ingredients are dominant in the product. When reading the label of a product for a specific ingredient, look to see where the ingredient is placed on the list. If it is in the top 5, then it is a dominant ingredient. However, if you see it close to the bottom, it means that it’s barely in there so you won’t get as many benefits as you normally would.
Also, it’s good to read reviews from other naturalistas, because they can tell you what they thought about the product. Forums on websites such as Black Girl Long Hair and Hairlistas are good because you can interact with other members of the natural hair community, and learn what people think about certain products (it also helps to stay tuned for my product reviews haha).
What about deep conditioning?
Deep conditioning is a crucial step in your hair journey, and you should deep condition often. I personally try to deep condition at least 1x a week. You can figure out when to deep condition while you’re creating your regimen.There are two kinds of deep conditioning that everyone needs- moisture and protein.
What’s the difference between moisture and protein deep conditioning?
Moisture deep conditioning and protein deep conditioning do different things to your hair. When you do a moisture deep condition, you’re making sure that you hair stays hydrated. You know that your hair is in need of a moisture treatment if it is extremely dry, hard, or brittle. It’s good to choose a deep conditioner that contains ingredients such as shea butter, avocado, aloe vera, coconut oil, etc.
Protein deep conditioning is a little different. You know your hair is in need of protein if it snaps easily, feels brittle, or seems weak overall. You can either make your own treatments or buy a protein treatment. My favorite protein treatment is the JBCO Protein Treatment. If you’d like to make your own protein treatment you can use ingredients such as eggs, yogurt, etc. *Disclaimer* protein treatments need to be handled accordingly, because you don’t want to give your hair too much protein. If you buy one from the store then follow the directions in terms of length of time leaving it on. I suggest not leaving a protein treatment on for longer than 1 hour. Otherwise your hair can get hard and yucky feeling.
How do I style my hair?
There are plenty of ways to style your transitioning/natural hair. Braid outs, twists outs, bantu knots, wigs, braids, havana twists, clip ins, updos.. the possibilities are endless. In my Low Manipulation vs Protective Styling post, I show some examples.
These are all the questions I could think to answer for right now but I will definitely make sure to keep updating this FAQ as more questions arrive.