~To Big Chop or Not To Big Chop?
One of the easiest ways to start the transition from relaxed to natural is to "Big Chop". If you are new to the natural world and our lingo--Big Chop or BC is the process by which you chop off all of your relaxed hair and opt for a style much like Amber Rose's classic look. If you are not brave enough to BC because a) your employer will not understand, b) your not sure if this style will be flattering to your face shape or c) you've always been a "long hair don't care" kinda girl then the Big Chop is not for you. The other option would be to slowly transition by trimming your relaxed hair as it grows out. If you decide to transition instead of chopping off your relaxed hair spiral rods, perm rods or twists are good way to disguise the difference between new growth and relaxed hair. To speed up the transition process you will need to trim your ends every 6 to 8 weeks.
Another option would be to wear sew-ins. Sew-ins are a great way to transition because the hair is braided. We know that less manipulation equals length retention. Since your hair is protected it will grow faster, which means more new growth and a shorter transitioning process. There are rules to wearing sew-ins, #1- Straight weaves are a "NO NO". The portion of your hair that is left out to cover the tracks has to be constantly straightened to blend with the weave. Because of this, that portion of hair will be permanently heat straightened leaving a patch of hair that is different from the rest. Rule #2, the sew-in should not be left in for more than 3 months at a time. Any longer than 3 months, you run the risk of matted and mildew hair. In between sew-ins, it is important that you trim your ends and deep condition every time.
~What's the real reason behind your choice? Do you have "Hair Lust"?
Lately you've been watching "natural hair" you tube videos or you've been seeing gorgeous pics of "natural hair" ladies on your Facebook timeline. So you think to yourself, "I wish my hair could look like that" or worse "If I went natural my WOULD look like that." This is one of the biggest misconceptions among new naturals and it frustrates many. Although, there is a hair typing system that bundles naturals into certain groups, everyone's hair is different (I do not subscribe to the hair typing system, as I have looser curls in the front and tight curls in the back). Genetics is responsible for hair texture and determines how your hair will look. For instance, sisters who have the same mother and father may have totally different hair textures. So you cannot look at a strangers hair texture and think that your hair will look like theirs once the relaxer fades away. The "Natural Hair Journey" requires self acceptance and embracing who you are. Know that your hair will not look like Natural Chica's or the random girl you follow on Instagram, your hair is unique. Once you've accepted the fact that your curls are unique to you, you have permission to "pass go and collect $200".
~Do you think natural hair will be easier to maintain?
The shorter the hair, the easier it is to maintain. Teeny Weeny Afros (TWA) are the easiest, as they require very little styling. As your hair grows, it will require much more maintenance and attention. Detangling long natural hair can be a tedious process and styling it can be a pain. Throughout your journey, you will experiment with different products, styles and techniques to make the process easier but it requires patience. Deciding to 'go natural' is a commitment, much like a marriage. You have to take the time to understand your hair and its needs. Researching products, styles and investing in the right tools will go along way.
~ How thick is your skin?
New naturals often receive negative comments from their friends, family and coworkers (Remedy: I suggest purchasing the "Kiss My Kurls" tank in our "Natural vs. Relaxed" post). Since natural hair is not your usual look, people will comment on your hair and some of those comments will be negative like: your hair looks dry, natural hair is not for everyone, or when are you going to get a perm? My advice is to ignore all the background noise and find other naturals in your area. Read blogs, join the #teamnatural and #naturalhair discussion on twitter, attend natural hair meet-ups in your city and watch other naturals on youtube for inspiration.
If you're thinking about "Going Natural" and don't know how. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.