There are different ways to start your journey to healthy natural afro hair. Depending on where your journey starts you’ll have different ways of approaching it. If your hair is relaxed (chemically straightened) you’ll have a few things to consider once you decide to stop using the relaxer.
The Big Chop
A lot of women decide to stop relaxing their hair and want to start over which results in a hair cut. This hair cut usually means chopping of almost all the hair on your head and letting it grow back over time. This method can be also used for women who have damaged hair due to excessive use of heat or color treatments. The benefit of this method is that you slowly get to know your natural hair texture over time. As it grows longer you learn more about it.
But this isn’t for everyone. A lot of women do not feel comfortable wearing short hair and therefore choose not to go natural. But this isn’t the only option.
Transitioning refers to when a woman decides to slowly go from relaxed/damaged hair to natural hair. As the new hair grows out from the root the person regularly cuts of the ends of the hair, over time will this will lead to the damaged hair being cut off leaving a head of healthy natural hair. This process usually takes a few years. The benefit of this for many women is that they don’t have to wear their hair short. But it may be a big challenge to transition as you have to deal with two different hair textures that need different types of care and hair products. The hair is usually prone to a lot of breakage during transitioning so it must be done with care. Before starting to transition make sure you do your research so you possess as much knowledge as possible to deal with the two hair textures.
For some letting go of the relaxer, hair color or flat iron is extremely hard. They may not be ready to deal with wearing their short as a big chop would lead to and don’t feel equipped or comfortable dealing with the two different hair textures as done during transitioning. Protective styling can be installing a weave, wearing a wig, adding extensions to your hair like box braids or twists, etc. A hair style where the ends of your hair are tucked away. Protective styling can be a good short term option if you feel a bit stressed out on your way to having a full head of healthy hair. But long term it shouldn’t replace the big chop or transitioning completely. The reason is that when you wear your hair in a protective style for an extended period of time you can’t moisturise or clean it as is needed which affects the health of your hair. You also miss out on getting to know your natural curl pattern and figuring out how to care for your hair. Many that go natural through protective styling get stuck. They may have their hair natural but don’t understand how to care for it and therefore never wear their hair out of protective styles.