Natural Hair Transition Tips

I had the privilege of leading a workshop discussion at the Fall 2012 Fro Fashion Week in Atlanta, GA Saturday, September 29, 2012. Fro Fashion Week is a celebration of the naturalista, curly girl and fashion. The event consisted of breakout workshop sessions featuring hair styling demonstrations, tips to shop on a budget, feminine hygiene, and transitioning.

This topic is close to my heart because having given up chemical relaxers for the past two years, I’ve struggled with getting thru this so-called ugly phase. The ugly phase is that period of time when your hair isn’t doing the things you want or expect it to do. It’s not looking pretty at all.  For those that decide to go the ‘big chop’ route, this period can be when your hair is beginning to get some length to it.  The fro gets bigger, thicker and sometimes less manageable. For those that decide to cut their relaxed ends while their hair grows out, this period can be when there are two types of hair on your head.

I shared what helped me get past this so-called ugly phase while I transitioned from relaxed-to-natural. It all comes down to understanding how you view yourself, how you define ‘pretty’, and learning to work what you got (ala Mary J. Blige).

Come to grips with your genetics. Realize that you aren’t kin to Miss Jessie and ‘nem. We all have different hair textures. Your hair will not look like mine. Mine will not look like yours. Your natural hair texture will most likely resemble your mom’s, grandma, great grandma, etc. Embrace it and learn how to style that.

Embrace the carefree style without being care free. There is a certain carefree feeling that I got when I decided to cut my hair and wear it short during the Summer months. I didn’t have to worry or fuss with the style. It was short and free! While it grew out, I embraced the messy fro, but this didn’t mean I rolled out the bed and had “bed head”. I still had to put something on my tresses to bring them to life.

Put some makeup on. While your hair is growing (if slowly), the attention is now on your face.  Make it shine with makeup. Use makeup to enhance your outer beauty and draw attention to your beautiful face. Even clean skin tone is always attractive, and kissable shiny lips are just cute!

Mix it up with scarves, wigs and color. Who says you have to wear the teenie weenie fro ALL the time? Give yourself a hair break. I personally have a drawer FULL of wigs, scarves that I wear, when I don’t feel like messin’ with no hair. The goal is to feel cute, and if a wig does it one day, then so be it. Done!

See a professional stylist. During my transition period, I was also learning how to DO my hair and this was frustrating. So once in a while, I’d treat myself to hair guru to style my hair for me. While I was there, I’d ask the stylist for tips on how I can duplicate the style for later. Also, the stylist would share some styling tips with me while I was in my hair rut.

Get a natural hair buddy. Don’t go it alone. Having a friend who has gone thru what you’re going thru with your hair, can help you get thru this process. Sharing your experience with them can help you get out of that ‘ugly’ funk. My friend Jernell has been natural for years, and I just loved her hair. She shared her tips with me, and gave me encouragement.

Fro Fashion Week "Getting Past the Ugly" Workshop Attendees

The three ladies who attended my session (from left to right) are Crystal (blogger at KinkyHairAffair.com), Jocelyn (stylist at MissJocelynr.com), and Jessica (blogger at HairGetsKinky.com).

Interestingly, during the session, a gentleman attendee had questions on how he could get past that ‘ugly phase’, too, since he is considering cutting his (long) locs and starting the hair growth process again. While most of my tips were geared toward a female audience, I shared with him some tips on how to keep a professional look while at work. Honestly, I do think that men have it easier to maintain their hair than women do. However, we all want to feel pretty (or fly!).

Thanks to Mary Kent Hearon for letting me wear her Heart Knot as an accessory necklace for the event.