Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Transitioning Checklist: How To Transition With Minimal Breakage

If you are considering going natural yet the looming thought of uncontrollable breakage is keeping you from taking the plunge, check out some of these tips. While it isn't necessary to use all of the products I recommend, it is necessary to follow the basic rules of minimal manipulation, little to no heat, as well as maintaining a healthy moisture and protein balance. 

Common causes of breakage during transitioning: 
Lack of moisture
Lack of protein 
Too much manipulation 
Improper detangling methods
High stress hairstyles [like ponytails or tight braids]
Too much protein
Too much moisture

Following this checklist will help avoid some of these common issues: 
My hair styles don't last long
My hair breaks while combing
I'm having a hard time blending the two textures

And will also help answer these questions:

What styles should I wear while transitioning?
Can I use heat while transitioning? 
How often should I use a protein treatment?  
What products should I use? 
Shampoo: I recommend shampooing hair once weekly preferably with a sulfate-free poo to keep the drying effects to a minimum. Remember that your scalp needs to be clean and free of debris for optimum hair growth. Also remember that some moisturizing and styling products tend to cause product build-up which in turns locks moisture out. Shampooing hair regularly helps keep your strands and scalp in the clear.

Deep Condition: Deep condition once weekly with heat. I recommend 30 minute sessions. This is very important as chemically processed hair tends to be a little on the porous side meaning that the amount of moisture your hair is able to retain is on the low side.  Weekly deep conditioning treatments helps to fortify your hair at the follicle as well as provide a much needed moisture boost.

Rinse: Rinsing all of the product out of your hair is just as important as cleansing your tresses. Excess residue left on your hair can not only cause product build-up, but it can also leave your finished style stiff and dull [due to the product coating the strands]. 
>>Do you have hard water? An ACV rinse is highly recommended to keep your hair free of mineral build-up as well [which also leads to dull, lackluster, moisture deficient hair].

Follow-up Condition: This is otherwise known as applying a leave-in conditioner to your hair. This is important as chemically processed and transitioning hair needs an abundance of moisture and nutrients to remain at optimal health levels.
>>It doesn't stop there, using a leave-in conditioner also helps make managing your new growth much easier as it leaves both textures pliable and soft.

Lock in Moisture: Lock in moisture with your favorite oil [see my list for product recommendations]. This will help your hair stay hydrated longer while imparting a nice sheen to your hair. 

Low Manipulation Style: Extremely important!The goal is to transition using styles that require little to no manipulation on a day-to-day basis. I would steer clear of ponytails and any other style that places an extended amount of stress on your hair. Remember that the line of demarcation [the point where your newgrowth and relaxed hair meets] is extremely fragile and susceptible to breakage. 
>>Opt for styles like roller sets, braid outs, twist outs, and flexi sets, as they require little manipulation to maintain the styles and they blend the two textures seamlessly. 

Skip the Heat: I would advise steering clear of heat until at least 6 months into your transition. Heat can weaken the protein bonds causing breakage near the line of demarcation and other areas the hair is too weak to withstand additional protein degeneration. 
>>If you want the sleek look of a thermal style, try a roller set instead. It is possible to get your new-growth silky and straight with the assistance of rollers or flexi-rods [you can see my flexi rod video here].
Other Key Points

Product Application: How you apply your product makes a big difference in the managebility of your hair, how long your hair holds a style, and how your hair looks and feels. Are you applying tons of products in hopes to tame your new-growth? If so you may actually be doing more harm than good. Not only does excess product weigh down your hair, but the film the product leaves behind can also make the hair appear dull, greasy and lackluster. 
Instead, try to practice the dime-size rule:
Serums: A dime size amount for your entire head
Stylers [like custards, creams and puddings]: A dime size portion per section you are twisting, braiding or rolling]
Leave-In Conditioner: A dime size amount per 3 inch section 
>>Are you having a hard time styling your hair due extremely thick new-growth? Spritz the new-growth thoroughly with your favorite moisturizer and cover with a plastic cap for about 15-20 minutes. This allows your hair to soak up all of the moisturizing properties making your hair easier to manage and will take some of the fuss out of styling.

Nighttime styling: Avoid cotton pillowcases like the plague. They can be extremely damaging to your hair, especially transitioning hair. The friction from the pillowcase can cause splits, tears and breakage. Use a satin pillowcase or bonnet for protection against cotton. 

Trimming: Trimming is an essential part of every hair care regimen and can help save your hair from additional damage. If you're ends are damaged, a trim should be in order immediately. Neglecting to trim can actually do more harm than good as split ends travel up the hair shaft until the strand eventually breaks. - Trimming schedules during your transition should be on an as needed basis. 

Protein Treatment: Protein treatments will help significantly curb [and in some cases eliminate] breakage whilst transitioning. Protein treatments help to fortify the hair which helps it withstand mechanical manipulation from styling and detangling as well as fill in the gaps along the hair shaft which will vary depending on the needs of your hair; however many transitioners operate on a 6 week protein treatment schedule. 

Detangling: Proper detangling methods can possibly eliminate issues with matting, ease styling efforts as well as make hair easier to handle while finger combing and moisturizing. I recommend a thorough detangling once a week during wash day [check out this detangling/shampoo tutorial], and finger combing if needed throughout the week.

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  1. This is extremely helpful! Thank you soooo much!

  2. Excellent post, this guide will help me with my transition indeed. Thank you.

  3. i just had to post that the top pic is GORGEOUS!! you find the best pics to go with your posts :D she is stunning


  4. Great post! I am 9 months into my transition, and I do a lot of these things.

    Keeping the hair sectioned off also helps keep the frustration down when detangling, applying conditioner, wet styling, etc. Oh and having a good shampoo that smooths the cuticle and detangles, too. Glad you said sulfate-free b/c that is helpful too.


  5. OMG ! How gorgeous is that pic !!!!!

  6. That picture is sooooo beautiful!!!! Where did you get it from (source)?

    Thank you and God bless!!!!!

  7. Can i just say that your blog is the best? You have some of the most comprehensive and well thought-out posts. I really appreciate the information you give and it is always well written. Thanks for what you do!

  8. wat if i apply a texturizer to my hair? cos i want to believe it's not the same as relaxer.

  9. almost a year since i started my transition its so awesommme rocking my natural hair, moptop maven u're an angel all my tips i picked up from your blog!

  10. another great post. i swear i'm waiting for ur book!


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