Thursday, July 26, 2012

10 Reasons Why I Put a Relaxer on My Transitioning Hair

If you're reading this, you either think I was talking about myself (and you are shocked right now)--or you are considering to put a relaxer on your transitioning hair. Either way, I'm happy to see you.

No, I'm not transitioning--so this never related to me. My tresses are completely natural, and frankly I wouldn't know how to handle the burn from a relaxer anymore.

I communicate with lots of transitioners on a daily basis, and I want to share some of the common reasons they are tempted (or have already returned) to relax their hair.

  1. Breakage. My best friend began her transition shortly after I did. Her relaxed hair was thinned out by the relaxer. Her natural hair (new growth) was never as thick as mine to begin with. By the time she started transitioning, her line of demarcation (where the natural hair meets the relaxed hair) was weak and started to break. Her relaxed ends were split as well. Breakage everywhere. IS THERE A SOLUTION? Possibly. She would have needed to start a consistent deep condition routine as well as a protein treatment regimen. Nursing her hair with low manipulation styling. Not handling her hair with styling tools after her wash/style day. We ended up cutting off her broken/split ends/hair and starting fresh
  2. Styling Confusion. That awkward puff. Hair styling while transitioning can be confusing, upsetting, and downright unpleasant. If  you're not a styling pro, you can quickly get tired of and lose patience with the 2 textured hair shenanigans. What to do with your puffy natural hair? What to do with your dead straight (and uncooperative) relaxed hair? IS THERE A SOLUTION? Yeah. Stay true to your style. If you are a person who loves straight hair---you may want to consider that your natural hair will be ALL curly. Embrace that. Don't fret-- styling your transitioning hair straight can be 1 option of many. Once you learn the safe way to use heat, limit your heat use to 1-2 times heat session per month. Roller sets are great. If you are ready to embrace your curly/coily hair, rolling your relaxed ends with perm rod rollers after twisting your natural hair is a great styling option. There are many transitioning styling tutorials online (check out YouTube). Research styling options, and take 1 day out of your week to care for your transitioning hair. Once you learn how to create 1 consistent texture out of both of your textures, your styling confusion will be cleared up!
  3. Mean Comments. Peer Pressure can effect anyone at any age. My daughter transitioned in Middle School. That's like the most rough stage of any one's educational career already! Much less add a puffy/non-relaxed hair daily to the mix. She did well though. When kids would ask her "when you getting your relaxer?", she would tell them "tomorrow", but tomorrow never came. Now that she's in high school, the same kids no longer ask her when she's getting a relaxer. They tell her she's got to be mixed. It's pretty funny. But the lesson learned here is to "do you". If this is something you want to do (transition)--just do it. Regardless of what anyone else has to say. In the end, you will be happy you did what you wanted to do, and not what everyone else was saying to do. IS THERE A SOLUTION? Yep. Don't listen to the foolishness. Keep focused. Understand that this awkward transitioning stage is only temporary. You will have 1 beautiful texture in a little bit.
  4. Not Ready. If you are not ready (mentally), then you won't be able to get ready (physically). You won't want to research and shop for the few things needed to transition your hair. You won't want to spend any time getting to know how to transition. You won't want to see your puffy roots. You will then break out a relaxer box--or head to your nearest beautician. IS THERE A SOLUTION? Pretty much. Wait until your mind is ready. Wait until you know in your heart that you have already embraced your coily hair.
  5. Lack of Knowledge. There's a few things to learn once you get started. Either way, once you stop relaxing, your coils will grow out unprocessed. Soon, you'll have more unprocessed (aka natural) hair than relaxed hair. Especially if you cut off the relaxed hair ends! Another option is long term transitioning (keeping your relaxed hair while your natural hair grows in). Either way, it's necessary to learn the basics: styling, cleansing, conditioning, moisturizing, sealing, detangling. These were basics that had to be learned while you were relaxed as well. If you are transitioning with the hopes of growing long, healthy natural hair--then take a little time to update your knowledge in that direction. There's hair care--and then there's healthy hair care. IS THERE A SOLUTION? Yes. Do some Research. Have some fun getting to know your coils.
  6. Think (your own) natural hair is not "good hair". As upsetting as this always is to me, I will need to bring this up. I get lots of messages from girls wondering what their "hair type" is. Trying to look through the transitioning mix of hair and determine if they have "nice hair". At times, they report back that they've relaxed their hair because it was "nappy". I'm not making this up. First I'd like to say that the hair you will see during your transition is not the hair that you will have when you are fully transitioned. Also, I want to share that the hair you will see at the beginning of your all natural healthy hair journey---is not the same head of hair that you will see a few years/several inches down the road. Your coils will evolve quite a few times. Amazingly enough, each stage it evolves is more beautiful than the one before. This topic is a whole 'nother post (SOLUTION IN THE OTHER POST).
  7. Frustration. All of the above reasons (1 through 6) can lead to frustration. This can and probably will lead to breaking out that box of relaxer. Follow the solutions suggested, and it may help you get through the difficult stages of transitioning.
  8. The Hard, Crusty, Dry, Ashy New Growth. This may be the most important transitioning issue that I hear a lot. My inbox gets quite a few messages from transitioners explaining that their new growth feels hard, dry, and is difficult to manage. Truth is: it probably is dry, hard, and difficult to manage. Think about it--the coily hair is a HUGE contrast from the bone straight relaxed hair. Just that fact alone will cause some difficulty. Next, the coily hair will require some conditioning treatment that is not usually addressed that close to the scalp. When you deep condition--do you make sure to thoroughly address the hair right on the scalp? IS THERE A SOLUTION? Yup. Make sure to add some body heat to it by covering your conditioning hair with a plastic cap and tying that down with a scarf. Feel free to add some oils into your conditioner treatment. Special attention needs to be given to that New New growth. Also, you can lay down the edges of transitioning hair by doing this conditioning method, then "setting" the edges when they are damp by pulling the hair back into a ponytail and tying it down with a scarf. When you remove the scarf in the morning, your edges should be soft, manageable, and laid down flat. This is great when styling buns, ponytails, sleek styles. This is just a stage. It will pass at around the 7th to 8th month (when you could have around 4 inches of natural hair).
  9. Corporate Office. You think it's not Professional. Transition/Natural hair can be styled professionally, just as relaxed hair can be styled professionally. IS THERE A SOLUTION? Yeah. Research and learn how to style transitioning hair professionally--or go to a stylist with a style request.
  10. Tired. It can be a lot of work managing 2 (or even 3) different textures. Add tired with frustrations, and lack of knowledge and you have a recipe for a possible relaxer pitfall solution. IS THERE A SOLUTION? For Sure. When I was transitioning and I got tired of dealing with both of my differing textures,  I paid to have my hair braided with human hair extensions. I kept those in for about 2 months. I did about 2 to 3 sets of braided hair extensions at different times of my 15 month hair transition. It helped a lot! I got the well needed break from worrying about my styling. By the time I took my braids out--I was rewarded with healthy ends, as well as 1-2 inches of new natural hair growth!
These solutions are not the "be all end all" solutions to transitioning hair woes. There are so many other options available for most of these issues. If you successfully transitioned, or are currently transitioning and have tips to share--please share! What I would have done to have a guide when I was transitioning. I learned by researching different informational sources. I used the solutions and information that best suited my lifestyle and style preferences.
Deep Conditioning Treatments on Transitioning Hair: ESSENTIAL to Softening
Roller Sets on Transitioning Hair: Great for Stretching Textured Hair
Take a Break from Your Transitioning Hair with Braided Hair Extensions

Laid Down Edges on Transitioning Hair


  1. I don't know what I'm doing. My daughter would like to continue on this journey but it seems impossible. No relaxer for her since last October and yesterday she removed her second round of rope twist. I took my time taking each twist working it with fingers and oils thinking I was delta gluing and preparing for easy wash and style. My God how awful! After shampoo and conditioning hair a tangled mess. She still has relaxed strands but I don't know what and how to detangle this. We finally went to bed at 2am but I am terrified to see what it looks like after I take these sections down. Want to support her but would really rather pay someone to deal with it. :-(

    1. Hey Kimberly! She's almost a year into her transition! That's a long time. I had a similar situation. My daughter took her hair out of twists (with extensions) and ended up with a tangled birds nest. Most of it was ripped out. The worst thing we could have done was to add shampoo into the mix (you live and you learn). The shampoo definitely causes knotting to increase. It sounds like you did everything right when you took each twist down carefully. Did she moisturize regularly while the twists were in? That definitely plays a role in the amount of tangles on the take down. Transitioning hair is the trickiest. What detangling tool are you guys using? Try deep conditioning with a trusty conditioner, and some body heat for about 1 hour. Then detangle hair in sections with a flexible tooth paddle brush (with the balls at the ends), under warm running water. Start at the extreme ends and work your way up inch by inch. You may need a little trim after this. Let us know how it turns out! Maybe this post can help someone else going through detangling after twists. p.s. if you find someone that is good with natural/transitioning hair--that would be a big help :o) I wish I can find someone now lol!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I am about 3 months without a relaxer and I'm already wondering "what am I gonna do with this hair". I didn't realize there was a process. I just decided that I was done with the artificial straightener and stopped relaxing. However, I am committed to the transition and beginning my research into making this transition without losing all of my hair. Thanks for the encouragement. It's much needed.