Transitioning: What I would do differently!

Happy Sunday, lovelies!

Inspired by a recent Instagram post by a fellow Curly, CurlyGalLal, I thought it would be interesting to discuss what I would do differently since I transitioned into my natural hair journey, exactly two years ago!

[Click below to see my Curly Hair Transition from 2016 to 2018!]

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I’ve talked about it before, and I’m very open in discussing that my natural curly hair journey was completely unexpected. I use to have sew-in weaves as my go-to hair style, and would literally take out my weave for a day to wash and deep condition my natural hair, to re-do my sew-in weave again.

I did this consistently for well over a year and a half, so naturally my hair was extremely well protected and wasn’t exposed to heat or any other form of gradual damage, so my hair managed to reclaim it’s natural state!

The last time I’d taken out my weave I undid my matted braids underneath and decided to give my hair a severe deep condition and wore my natural hair down to let it breathe. I was genuinely shook to wear my hair down whilst natural but when I’d seen the healthy condition it was in, I instantly knew my time with weaves was done.

There was no ‘plan’ to me going natural…I genuinely just went with the flow and picked up some good (and bad) habits along the way.

After that day, I remember feeling anxious that if I washed my hair again, I’d lose the curl pattern that now existed. After one, two, three, four and the countless other washes that followed, my natural curl pattern remained and I felt a confidence that I’d never experienced before! I finally managed to get to a place that I felt truly confident in my own hair and didn’t feel the need to hide it underneath extensions.

With that said, my drastic jump into transitioning into a natural-centred hair growth journey was ignited by a number of flawed techniques and therefore I’ve shared below things I did, things I could have done differently and things I’ve completely stopped doing!

OVER-SHAMPOOING MY HAIR! 

When I started off my natural hair journey, I washed my hair way too often and what made it worse, is that I would constantly shampoo my hair! What us Curlies need to be more educated on, is not just the kind of products we put into our hair, but the effect that they have on our curls…

Over-shampooing causes your hair to become extremely dry and brittle. I now shampoo my hair once every two weeks, and in between that time I co-wash ONLY. If I feel that in between those two weeks, my hair could use a shampoo then yes…I’ll shampoo. However, the reduction in shampooing my curls has resulted positively in a much more hydrated and moisturised curl pattern throughout my hair and a massive part of that is due to using conditioners which contain essential oils such as Jamaican Black Castor Oil or Coconut Oil, and reducing how often I shampoo!

For the Curlies that are starting out, you may have dabbled in bleaching or excessive heat on your curls, so it’s especially important that you replace the products you have been using and in return use products that have repairing properties in them!

WATER, WATER AND…MORE WATER!

Invest in a spray bottle…honestly any hair shop will sell them. I’ve seen them in Peckham for as cheap as a £1.00 each. For those days you’re in a rush and you don’t have a spray bottle, just run your hands under the tap and apply water throughout your hair until it’s at that ‘damp, dry’ stage. One thing that I’ve learnt from other Curlies is not to be afraid of water. I use to fear that water would dry out my curls and yes…to a certain extent it can if you don’t follow through with applying the ‘right kind’ of hair products thereafter. I recommend using a hair lotion, a curling cream, maybe even a curl refresher and oil; this will help to restore elasticity.

Overall, water is a Curly girls’ best friend. Don’t be scared of using water and applying it to your hair to give you that necessary ‘revamp’. One thing I did when I first transitioned was I stayed clear of water on a daily basis and would only use curl refreshers. Yes, that’s a great option for when your hair needs it, but it can also be a little expensive when you can use a great (free) alternative; water!

AVOID SULFATE/SILICONE PRONE PRODUCTS!

Not every product that you see which reads ‘For curly hair’ is a good product; I learnt the hard way. You can always smell a product which is soaked in chemicals, sulfates, parabens, silicones etc…avoid them as much as you can. Do your research and actually understand what’s going into your hair.

I always like to focus on my own journey and understand what it is that my curls need. Not everyone’s hair journey is aligned with yours, therefore don’t assume products that work for someone else will work for you. That’s literally how I feel when I see Curly Girls with blonde hair. Inside I’m like, “ooh, yes my hair would look so good blonde, too!” but then I look back at pictures of me with blonde hair from a couple of years ago and decide to put that idea back on the bench…it’s the same with hair products, too!

Similarly, it’s important to remember that different curl patterns require a different type of ‘care’. Afro-Caribbean curls require a different type of routine and product in-take to those who have European Curls. For all the girls with type 3 curls upwards, with Afro-Caribbean hair types…stay away from the chemical-prone products!

TRIMMING!

When I started off, I should have trimmed my hair before I embarked on my natural hair journey. The simple reason for this, is because my hair had been protected under weaves for so long and the healthiest part of my hair was inevitably growing into the damaged part of my ends, which were split and brittle. I was so concerned with length over health and therefore didn’t trim my hair enough. In fact, it was only this year (2018) which saw me start taking trimming more seriously. I trim my hair myself and I also trim my hair regularly, whenever I see that my curls need it. I recommend dry trimming, which allows you to see which areas are dry and which areas of your hair need a good shape!

The issue I’ve found as someone who trims their hair independently, is that trimming damp hair means you’re likely to take off more length than is necessary. If you’re unsure about trimming your curls, get a pro to do it…there are a lot more Curly-Hair Hairdressers and Stylists now, so there’s no need to spend your coins on going to a hairstylist that has no idea how to manage curly hair!

(I’m guilty of this….trust me, don’t do it!)

DEEP-CONDITIONING!

Okay so…listen up. If you are someone who hasn’t deep conditioned yet, or just listen up if you deep-condition in general!

DEEP CONDITIONERS ARE YOUR SAVIOUR. 

I don’t know how many times I’ll say this, but I know for sure I won’t stop preaching it!

Deep conditioners are really good for repairing your curls. I try and deep condition every Sunday, as Sundays tend to be my ‘off’ day. So, find a day in the week that you can really pamper yourself. Apply a deep conditioner (Or in fact make one yourself?!) put your hair up in a bun or in two single plaits whilst the conditioner works it’s magic, and when you rinse it out just see how soft your curls feel…I can already picture the definition once it’s dry!!

With that being said, don’t drown your hair in a deep conditioning product. By this I mean, don’t over-use a deep conditioner and then leave it in to ‘soak’ for too long. The objective of repairing your hair will be completely void. I’ve done this before, and found that my hair ends up oily, even after washing out my products, and thereafter my hair doesn’t feel nor look that great.

GET INVOLVED IN THE CURLY COMMUNITY!

The best part about embracing my curly hair, is getting involved with other Curlies…in fact, I ended up reconnecting with a friend I’ve known for over 15 years, simply because she too is on her Naturally Curly Hair Journey!

There are many benefits of this; you connect with people in a similar space to you and in addition to this you expose yourself to a community which will give you an honest review on what to do and what not to do as someone who’s transitioning and fulfilling their journey naturally.

There are a lot of ‘awkward’ stages when you embark on your natural hair journey. Those can include those awkward hair lengths, dealing with those unimpressive curl patterns as your curls are transcending out of heat damage, or simply experiencing limp and lifeless curls in general by not implementing a healthy care routine. It may seem like a lot of work, but the truth is…it is a lot of work.

When I started out my natural hair journey, I didn’t immediately jump into the Curly Community because my journey was very much my own and stubbornly I wanted to do everything very independently. The truth is, my journey is still very much independent and orchestrated by my own decisions, however it’s nice to be a part of a community who have the best intentions in sharing honest advice!

Getting involved with a community of women and men who have similar curls to you means that you are exposing yourself to a network of people in general who are there to help. So don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek advice and generally network!

Anywho, I hope the above has been helpful and insightful! Just remember that the journey never stops…I learn things from other Curlies on a daily basis. I’m also really responsive to my Curls’ needs. If I feel I need to do something to help better their health, then I do exactly that! Be comfortable and open in your hair journey, and you’ll gain some great results!

 

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