The image above is the day that I cut off the rest of my relaxer after long term transitioning for 22 long months. I was finally free bare face and all!
Time to learn what works
I have learned to appreciate my transition as a learning experience. Even though I was left with a new head of hair after my transition chop, I had worked with the hair so long that I had a good idea of what worked for my hair and what didn’t. This made managing my newly natural hair so much easier.
You don’t have to deal with short hair
I never wanted short hair. It personally just isn’t a desire of mine so hearing that people were able to successfully transition from relaxed to natural without having to cut off all their hair was amazing to me. I have seen some people who have had a hard time with the big chop not because of the short hair but because of the “awkward stage” that happens when their hair starts to grow out. It may not seem like a big deal to some but I know for others it can be a major hurdle. Some end up keeping short hair just because they can’t stand the awkward stage and just end up cutting their hair again. The good thing about long term transitioning is that I never had to deal with this stage.
Creativity of blending
Because of the difference in textures, I was able to try lot of different hairstyles while I transition. It gave me the courage to try new things and be more creative with my hairstyles. The good thing is that most these styles imitated natural hairstyles. This allowed me to get practice because all the hairstyles totally work for my natural. Score!
Time to get used to being natural
Not only did transitioning allow me to practice hairstyles, it helped me get used to being and seeing myself as a natural. Some people may think that this is not a big deal but for me, it kind of was. I like the occasional curly look but I mostly felt like I looked like a little kid with textured hair. Don’t ask me why I just did and sometimes I still do. Taking the time to transition allowed me to find my look and to embrace it.
This is might be bad but I mostly transitioned on the idea that any day I could change my mind and relax my hair if I wanted to. You see, I didn’t actually want to go natural. At first, I was just stretching out my relaxer and things got out of hand but that’s another story. Any ways, knowing that the choice was mine helped it not seem so permanent. In the end, I guess I wanted to be natural more than I thought because I stuck to it through my whole transition.
There’s no sugar coating, it takes a while. 22 months for me. The only way to get around this wait time is to big chop.
Working with Multiple Textures
Along with the wait, if you decide to transition you will at some point have to deal with two or more textures. It’s a little more complicated than relaxed hair versus natural. I know, your probably like “Chloe, what do you mean? I knew there would be two textures but multiple?” Yes, I have yet to meet a natural, myself included that has one natural texture over their whole head. Usually there’s a mixture of a few. This means that if you are like the majority there will be more than two textures that you need to blend, detangle, style, wash, etc.
I know I just mention detangling in passing in the previous con but this process is definitely worthy of getting its own con. This is easier for some but it really depends on how kinky your texture is. For me, a kinky coily girl, it was not easy for a while. It took some time to find out what worked and even after that it still was a long process. When you have relaxed hair attached to your natural hair, breakage is very easy where the two textures meet. Because of this you need to take time and use care when detangling, always.
Not knowing your texture
One thing I found hard for me is not knowing my texture. I wanted to be able to see what it was and learn to work with it but the relaxed hair at the end prevented me from having full access. I didn’t want short hair so I couldn’t cut it off.
Everything is a longer process because, if you cannot tell by now, the relaxed hair is working against you. Well, maybe not maliciously but you get it. Even something as simple as a bun on transitioning hair would take me longer than my natural or relaxed hair. I know this seems weird because it is just a bun right? But for me the struggle was real because the shrinkage would combat with the straight hair. The only way I could do a bun was with stretched hair which was a whole new process on its own.