Hello again! So you’ve made that decision to change your life for the better and embrace that beautiful messy hair on your head? Good, now all you have to do is get all those damaged ends chopped off before you change your mind. I’m kidding! It’s not that drastic, despite what you may have heard or “believe” about your hair. Have a little faith and let me enlighten you. In the natural hair community, transitioning and big chopping are the two first terms you may hear and want to familiarize yourself with before making either decision. Luckily I did both and I thought this topic was blog worthy.
Transitioning is just what it says it is. It’s the process of moving from one state to the next. You can transition from over processed hair, heat damaged hair or any damaged hair to your hair’s most healthiest state as you gradually trim the damaged ends. This is not big chopping although transitioning eventually leads to that. Big chopping is hacking off all of the damaged ends at once and starting fresh. The transitioning process was my preferred choice because I was hesitant to shave my head and start over. Not only that but the other major difference between transitioning and big chopping is that transitioning allows us to experiment with our natural hair as our new growth grows. During this stage it is important to gradually trim the damaged ends as they will become noticeably thin and unattractive until you just big chop which is what I did.
Always be mindful that everyone’s journey is different. I have a cousin who transitioned for years whereas I could only transition for about 6 months before I got tired of moisturizing and styling two textures. Still not convinced? True story- I knew nothing about moisturizing, deep conditioning, hot oil treatments, protein treatments, etc. I didn’t even wrap my hair at night before now (I know, smh). So if this is you or you still struggle with either of those things, then please, keep reading. BUT FIRST, read the next part thoroughly as I am about to tell you the most kept secret in the Natural Hair community.
Don’t Overwhelm yourself with the advice of all of the Naturalista bloggers and vloggers. This great advice was passed down to me and I quickly understood why so I have to share it with you. There is a ton of great, informative yet very misleading information circulating around the natural hair community, so please don’t believe that what works for one person’s hair will surely work for your hair based on curl pattern (type of curl shape). By all means, experiment! Just solid advice, in the beginning stages it’s critical to figure out what works for your hair to retain moisture and a healthy scalp first. Besides, there is so much more to the science of hair in general but I will spare you in this blog post. If you do happen to get sucked in which is very easy to do (again, I’m speaking from experience), you will find that the common denominator is to MOISTURIZE and seal. Which brings me to this, just Stick to the basics and don’t give up! Everything will look and sound enticing but you don’t need it, you just want it. Always tell yourself this and you won’t become a product junkie which is also very easy to do. Find your basic products like a moisturizing lotion, milk or leave-in that will hydrate your hair and an oil that will seal it all in. Keep it in a journal as you find what works and explore more into the world of styling. The length will come, trust me. Love your hair the way it grows from YOUR head and I promise you will love the results.
Here’s the second most important and basic take away that I’ve already mentioned. Can you guess? It’s MOISTURIZE! naturally kinky curly hair is naturally dry so it needs all of the moisture it can get. And best of all, it’s FREE! We get our moisture from plain water. You can fill up an empty spray bottle and voila, you have moisture for your hair. If any of your products do not contain water as the first ingredient, it probably isn’t a moisturizer. Even the moisture in the air (humidity) after a rainy day can make sexy and voluminous hair so embrace that precipitation babe. Hello twist-out! Vegetable glycerin, honey or coconut oil are also amazing humectant additives that draw the moisture around us into our hair for that all day long lasting moisture. Although I would highly suggest using coconut oil in moderation for your hair, you get tons more of its other botanical benefits when used on other areas of the body. Just by adding either of these simple, raw ingredients to your current products or DIY potions, you can turn that old leave-in that’s been sitting in the back of your cabinet from drab to fab in no time.
Here are some great products that worked very well for my retaining moisture and a healthy scalp while I transitioned and even after I big chopped.
I know you may disagree with some of the products on this grid and I will get to that but as I mentioned just because what worked for me, doesn’t mean it works for everyone. I found these items to be a great starter pack for me after trying lots of others but like anything they do have their pros and cons.
- Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in Conditioner– This product worked very well for me at the beginning but I believe it worked best for my permed ends. So this is good news for you, transition(ers). My hair didn’t feel sticky or weighed down as this product is a very light cream. However, after fully converting I realized the moisture did not penetrate my hair shaft the same as before. I recently found out from a YouTube Vlogger (go figure) that the new formulation of this product contains Isopropyl alcohol which is rubbing alcohol and that’s not ok. BUT, I have not found any scientific or reputable evidence to back this up so please do not quote me and do some extensive research on this issue before you spread the word. Thank you =).
- Shea Moistures African Black Soap Conditioner– This product is GREAT. I would still use this if it weren’t so expensive ($10) for such a small quantity and if I did not make my own products at home and if Shea Moistures was not being boycotted by the Natural Hair community right now. So yea, just come get your Andy Candy lol. This product is a great leave-in as well as it’s stated on the bottle.
- Eden Body Works Jojoba and Monoi Deep Conditioner– I LOVED this conditioner. I have purchased this multiple times as I transitioned and after I big chopped. It’s thick and creamy, affordable and effective.
- Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil– This is my Holy grail. I still use this product as well. It helps my hair substantially with shine, strengthening and reducing shedding. A powerhouse when mixed with essential oils for a hot oil treatment but it is definitely a great oil on its own as a sealant. EVOO can enhance your regular conditioners for added moisture and the benefits I listed above. The food grade one works fine for the hair as well.
- Grape seed oil– This oil is a great sealing oil and contains a good amount of vitamin E which promotes growth, strength and shine for the hair. Funny story about this oil. Before I even transitioned I played around with moisturizing and sealing as these are very critical steps to maintaining a healthy hair journey. I oiled my entire head instead of just the ends of my hair so I looked like a lil’ grease ball all day. Let’s say I know better now and you do too. Only seal your ends with oil. You’re welcome lol.
- Organic Unrefined/Refined Coconut oil– This oil is very popular in the Natural hair community. It’s one of the few with a small enough molecular makeup to penetrate our hair shaft (cuticle) and provide that deep penetrative moisture so it’s not a sealant oil. You may know that there are some adverse reviews and some reviews that are in favor of this oil but it still boils down to preference. My TWA hated it, now my APL hair kinda likes it but I use it in moderation due to its high protein content and how it makes my hair feel limp over time. Other uses: eye makeup remover, natural alternative to shaving cream and skin and hair moisturizer. The unrefined version smells like actual coconut whereas the refined one does not. That’s the only difference.
- ORS Olive Oil Shampoo– What can I say, my hair just really likes olive oil. This is a staple in my product artillery. It’s super cleansing without making my hair feel stripped (that rubbery dry feeling after shampooing). It’s not organic or paraben and sulfate free so I try not to use it a lot. I am currently working on my own concoction that my hair will love just as much but for now this gets the job done if my more natural alternatives just aren’t cutting it.
- ORS Olive Oil Conditioner– Nourishing, strengthening and replenishing just like the bottle says. I like that this product contains Hydrolyzed protein because it serves as a quick low protein conditioner which is just enough for me. I would follow up with a deep conditioner but again, it’s up to you. Here is a link to my DIY avocado deep conditioner. GREAT stuff.
- 100% Pure Tea Tree Essential Oil– I picked this up to help with my dandruff and itchy scalp. It works well so I honestly add a few drops in just about everything. The scent is STRONG and very medicinal so test it out on a small section to see if you like it. I love essential oils because of their multifunctional healing properties and fragrance. Tea tree oil is said to stimulate hair growth, and reduce dandruff and hair loss due to its anti fungal and antibacterial benefits. Mix this with any of the oils mentioned above and you have your own DIY hot oil treatment concoction. YAY! *Please consult your doctor if you are pregnant or using any essential oils for medical purposes.
You can choose from the 9 listed above as a starter pack to kick off your natural hair journey. Here are some other products I also liked and found later once I started to learn my hair. These will replace those products that are under a little controversy right now and those if you prefer a more natural approach.
Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Leave-In Conditioner replace #1 and #2
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration replace #2
Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner replace #7 and #8
100% Pure Aloe Vera Leaf Juice -pH balancing, great toner, great leave-in for wash n’ go
Now that you have found your starter pack, find you a cute little journal to document your epic fails and successes because there will be plenty and it helps to keep that stuff documented so you won’t waste time, money or both. But don’t give up when something doesn’t work. There are so many more products out there that will and many more individuals like myself working to raise awareness about natural hair care. Here are some very simple tips to success.
- Moisturize and seal daily
- Retain Moisture
- Style hair for the week after every wash or protective style every other month
- Wrap hair with a silk or satin bonnet every night
You will reach a point where your damaged ends are barely hanging on and they will look very bad compared to your new growth. I hit this stage after 6 months. This means its time to big chop if you haven’t been trimming away the dead ends already. I will admit this can be scary but if you are comfortable with short hair its a piece of cake. Which brings me to my last piece of advice: Love your hair the way it grows from YOUR head. You must go through this journey for you just the same as you would with any transformation. It will get tough and only you can motivate yourself to stay committed and love the new and beautiful you. If you take heed to what I have advised, you will reap EXPONENTIAL results but of course, do what works for your hair and have FUN!
For real time updates on my hair journey please visit me on Instagram @andycandy.co
I was compelled to write this blog post because my mom recently decided to transition and having the chance to help her and share my passion with her is incredible. This blog post is dedicated to her and all of the young women and men who have inspired me to even pursue Andy Candy and have allowed me to share my story and insight with you as you all do with me. Keep coming with your stories and questions. Thanks so much for your endless support.